How a Digital Brokerage Leveraged Boost for A New Type of D&O Insurance, And Grew D&O Premiums 105%
A leading digital brokerage firm that largely focuses on commercial insurance lines serves businesses that gravitate towards all-digital experiences. This includes many startups, whose younger-skewing leaders expect to be able to conduct all parts of a transaction online in one seamless digital experience.
In 2019, the brokerage was looking to expand its offerings geared towards startups by adding an insurance product their clients had repeatedly requested: Directors and Officers (D&O) insurance.
This coverage is important for businesses of all sizes, and in many cases is required by investors after a certain level of fundraising. For startups, however, it could be difficult to acquire. Traditional D&O products were priced based on factors like revenue, years of operation, and employee count - all data that new companies like startups might not have. As a result, when startup companies tried to buy D&O insurance, many were either denied outright or rated at a far higher risk than they faced in reality, which made the cost of their insurance policy prohibitively expensive.
The brokerage’s customer base included a considerable number of startup companies, many of whom needed a better solution for D&O. If the brokerage could provide what they needed, it could potentially cross-sell D&O to many of its existing clients.
“Directors and Officers insurance was a chance to address a real pain point for our customers, which was the challenge of finding fair, affordable coverage,” said an executive at the brokerage. “If we could offer a better alternative, designed for what our customers actually needed, it represented a big opportunity for growth.”
In order to provide that growth, any D&O product would need to take a fundamentally different approach to assessing the risk of startups than what currently existed in the market. But the digital brokerage wasn’t the only company to see potential in D&O insurance for startups, and several of their biggest competitors were starting to offer solutions. If they wanted to stay ahead of the curve, they needed to get to market quickly with a startup-focused D&O offering of their own.
The brokerage immediately ruled out building their own D&O product in-house - it would be extremely expensive, and take far too long to actually bring to market. At the same time, simply reselling a traditional D&O product wouldn’t solve the problem either. Their customers would still be subject to the same legacy underwriting guidelines that created the problem in the first place.
The brokerage needed a D&O product actually designed for startups, that could be deployed quickly. A shared connection put them in touch with Boost.
Boost provides a complete insurance infrastructure-as-a-service platform that includes everything necessary to launch or expand a line of business for insurance. This allows partners to get to market with white-labeled Boost products very quickly, since everything they need is already assembled - all they need to do is connect to the Boost platform via API.
For the brokerage, there was one more advantage to working with Boost: the ability to create new products, much more quickly than building from scratch. As a fully-licensed MGA with an in-house team of insurance and compliance experts, and A-rated reinsurance capacity already in place, Boost has already handled the hardest part of creating new insurance products. This allows Boost to greatly streamline the process of developing new insurance programs, and grants the flexibility to innovate in their product offerings.
As it happened, Boost was already considering creating a D&O product for the startup space. The brokerage signed on as the product’s first go-to-market partner, and Boost’s insurance team started development in earnest.
The biggest challenge? Price. To ensure the product was accessible to its intended market, the Boost team took an innovative approach to assessing risk, based on a startup’s investors.
“We had to figure out how to offer the kind of comprehensive protection that startups needed, at a price point they could actually afford, and that meant a new way of looking at the risk,” explained Alex Maffeo, CEO & Co-Founder, Boost. “Finally we came up with the idea of looking at the investors. They go deeper into these companies than we ever could - why not leverage that diligence?”
The idea was simple: before committing money to back a company, investors examine it in great detail, including far more information about its business practices than a potential insurer would be able to access. If a top-tier investor supports a startup, it’s a reasonable indication that that startup is well-run.
The result was a proprietary algorithm that took a startup’s institutional backing into account when assessing its risk. The alternate risk assessment allowed for rates up to 40% lower than traditional products, making D&O insurance far more accessible to startup companies.
Once the product was ready, Boost’s API-based policy admin system made it easy for the brokerage to integrate it with their existing website. Within weeks, the product was ready to go live.
“The Boost APIs were very easy to build into, and the support team was fantastic,” said the executive. “At every step in onboarding, we were impressed with how smooth and simple the process was.”
The new D&O offering proved popular with the brokerage’s customers. Gross written premium for Boost D&O policies grew over 105% year over year, and the number of quotes generated year over year grew 88%. Offering D&O for startups also increased cross-sell opportunities with that segment of their customers. And since Boost’s API-based technology allowed them to get to market quickly, the brokerage was able to reach their intended audience before competitors did.
Boost’s ease of use also helped the brokerage’s agents increase productivity. Boost was able to streamline the forms themselves, reducing the number of questions by 30%. With less time spent gathering unnecessary information, their agents were able to help more customers through the signup process. With the slimmed-down forms and all-digital experience, agents could also process more applications than with comparable other products. Utilizing the brokerage’s existing front-end flow and Boost's customizable product, they were able to provide startups with affordable D&O quotes in under 5 minutes.
“Boost has really helped our agent productivity numbers, which in turn has helped drive overall revenue,” said the executive. “The whole system is easy to use, and the D&O product is simply better than anything else out there for our startup clients.”
He added: “Expanding into D&O for startups has been a great growth opportunity for us. And we couldn’t have done this quickly, or this well, without Boost.”
A leading online brokerage needed an insurance product that didn’t currently exist: Directors and Officers insurance that their startup customers could afford.Solution
Boost developed a new D&O insurance product that leveraged alternative data sets to offer rates up to 40% lower than traditional products.Results
The brokerage’s gross written premium for D&O policies grew over 105% year over year.
YoY gross written premium growth for Boost D&O policies88%
YoY increase in number of quotes generated<5
Minutes to provide an affordable D&O quote
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