With a small but crucial acquisition, NSI Insurance Group instantly dove into the digital age.
The Florida-based independent insurance agency recently snatched up HoneyQuote.com, a digital insurance agency also based in Florida. The strategic purchase gave NSI a way to expand nationally, launch new product lines and more. According to NSI CEO Oscar Seikaly (pictured above), it was also a crucial move in today’s market.
“We felt it was necessary for us to move into the insurtech world,” Seikaly said. “We believe some of insurance, the transactional side of it, is going to become highly technological.”
Part of the gain will be expanding NSI’s customer base to consumers that don’t want to deal directly with people.
“We now have a platform that allows the consumer to go directly - without having to speak to anyone, just by putting his home address – and get at least nine or 10 possible options from insurance companies who are interested in his zip code or the type of house he has,” Seikaly said. “That’s an important part of what we do.”
Plans call for keeping HoneyQuote as a wholly owned division with its own name and direct-to-consumer digital clients, according to James McCue (pictured below), NSI’s chief operating officer. More than 100 people work for NSI, and approximately six were with HoneyQuote (all will remain).
“We keep it separated because there’s a growing demand for a direct consumer model where the consumer doesn’t necessarily want to talk to somebody,” McCue said. “They want to transact business online. They’re very different business models.”
Additionally, within the next month, NSI agents will start using the platform to search for quotes for the company’s existing client base. Some technological work will be needed to connect agents to the system.
“It’s basically building a [technology] bridge from our agents in NSI over into HoneyQuote to use the system,” McCue said. “It’s really, really easy.”
NSI agents use a historical comparative rater system typical to most agencies, McCue explained.
Using HoneyQuote as both a direct-to-consumer platform and a tool to help NSI agents search for quotes more efficiently will have a positive impact, McCue claimed.
“It will make us much more effective and efficient, McCue said, “and give us an advantage over other agencies because we will be able to serve the customer much faster.”
Seikaly said the alternative for agents, even now, has been far less advanced.
“Our industry has never been advanced from a digital point of view,” Seikaly said.
In the past, he said, customers called agents, and then the work took place over the phone and by email. HoneyQuote will bring it to another level, he added.
“This is the only way we can actually transact and write business without ever having to speak to anybody,” Seikaly said, adding that NSI can now reach two groups of consumers quite well.
“You have the consumers that want to do everything on their own and they don’t want to talk to anybody. Perfect,” Seikaly said. “And then you have the consumer that wants to call [and says] ‘Hey, can you help me with this? Can you do it for me?’”
HoneyQuote’s technology centers around a machine learning algorithm that matches users with property insurance carriers in real time, the company explained when it announced the deal. Its proprietary search engine is designed to let consumers shop and purchase homeowners’ insurance online. The start-up, since its 2019 launch, has partnered with 30 of the top insurance carriers in Florida and insured more than $1 billion in property value. With the acquisition, HoneyQuote is looking at a national expansion and plans to head into insurance areas including condominium owners, renters, personal umbrella, pet and auto insurance.
HoneyQuote will continue with its existing team, Seikaly said, with a focus on continuing to grow the company’s core technology and the resulting business, whether from NSI or direct users.
“Their job is to grow it and make sure that the technology keeps being approved and adjusted, adding more options for the consumers as well,” Seikaly said.
As an example, he noted that NSI will soon be offering auto insurance, but now customers can compare with several different companies at once, thanks to HoneyQuote.
“Now, when you buy a GEICO policy, you have to go to GEICO for all your information and you are only getting GEICO, and if you want State Farm, you have to go to State Farm, Seikaly said. “Imagine now [that] you have a way of getting all of those [at once] and then clicking and saying, ‘OK, I want that one’ - you can actually buy it.”
NSI does business in 48 states and the US District of Columbia, as well as 80 countries around the world, Seikaly said.