What insurtech CEOs look for in a partner

Shared vision is just one element

What insurtech CEOs look for in a partner


By Jen Frost

Shared vision, openness and strong relationships are all traits that Insurtech CEOs look for in a carrier partner, executives have said.

During a panel session during InsureTech Connect’s 2023 Las Vegas event, insurtech leaders described what they look for when considering how they work with and select insurers and other partners.

Carriers have undergone a “shift” in how they look at insurtech – Policygenius CEO

Over the last decade, a “real shift” has occurred when it comes to insurance carrier willingness to partner with insurtech businesses, according to Jennifer Fitzgerald, Policygenius CEO and co-founder.

“In the early days, we had to work through a third party BGA, we weren't able to get appointed with life carriers directly,” Fitzgerald said. “I remember one P&C carrier, I finally got through to the regional sales manager for Brooklyn [and they] gave us an appointment to sell in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where we had our co-working space.

“I was like, I don't think you get the model that we're trying to build here.”

Fast-forward a few years, and Policygenius, which was acquired by Zinnia in 2023, has worked with carriers to develop new products and models of underwriting, Fitzgerald said.

“With the combined company with Zinnia, we're really seeing an exciting market receptiveness to that end-to-end value proposition, from consumer to distributor to carrier, so it's been a real evolution,” Fitzgerald said. “That's probably been one of the biggest benefits to the whole insurtech rollercoaster, is it you really pulled along and gave some proof points to a several-hundred-year-old industry that's not well known for moving quickly and innovating.”

The Policygenius CEO labelled the pace of change at insurance carriers over the last decade “remarkable”.

“It's not something I would have predicted 10 years ago, just based on the initial reception that we got in the industry,” Fitzgerald said.

“Deep partnerships” vital for insurtech Betterfly

For Eduardo della Maggiora, Betterfly CEO and founder, carrier partnerships rank “if not number one, number two” in terms of importance.

“What we're trying to create, and what we're building at Betterfly is a new category with the incumbent,” della Maggiora said. “We decided early on, and this was a very big bet, because at the beginning we didn't know how it would work out, [to] … choose one partner for every market we open and go with a value proposition … that is differentiation on product, a product or service that is 10x better, and not necessarily competing on price per se.”

This approach and looking to distribute products in a different way has meant Chilean wellness and fitness platform Betterfly has had to work “very closely” with insurance partners, della Maggiora said.

“Disrupting the whole value chain … is very difficult,” della Maggiora said. “The way to do so is through deep partnerships with incumbents.”

“Shared vision” a critical component of insurtech/carrier relationships –  Cover Genius CEO

Being on the same page was also touted as a vital characteristic of any potential partner.

“From our point of view, a really good partner is someone who you can have a shared vision with, and then you can also have shared objectives of what you're trying to achieve,” said Angus McDonald, Cover Genius CEO and co-founder.

Bad partnerships emerge when companies lack alignment and transparency, according to the Sydney-headquartered global distribution platform CEO.

“Then it just can become a sales exercise for one party to be selling some sort of software solution to them,” McDonald said.

Unqork CEO on approaching a partnership like an integration

Gary Hoberman, Unqork CEO and co-founder, likened corporate partnerships to integrations.

For large companies, it can be a “pain” to bring in a new partner, and codeless platform Unqork looks to take a “plug and play” approach, Hoberman said.

“To us, it's about the successes, your application goes live, and your customers are happy and you're secure –  like there's a view there,” he said. “And if that's your target, and you want to make software engineering fun, you don't need to own every aspect of that, you want to bring in the right partners to do that.”

In a more difficult fundraising market, partnering to achieve goals can prove more critical than ever, according to the CEO of New York-headquartered Unqork.

“I'd say in the corporate world, that should be the exact same way you're thinking through it,” Hoberman said.

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