We've been saying for years that the traditional business model for the typical insurance agent would be threatened by technology. The last couple years have seen real shifts in that arena. Word this week that the online workers' comp insurance provider Pie has received $45 million in series B funding is another example that the financial world is seeing power in the concept. It is projected that over $1 billion has been invested in commercial insurance startups since 2015.
Pie is an MGA for Sirius America offering workers' comp policies for “construction, restaurant, manufacturing, cleaning and janitorial, landscaping, auto repair, retail, and health care companies.” They currently offer coverage in 19 states.
I was going to call this column, “Easy as Pie? You can't be Sirius,” but I just couldn't make it work.
We've written about other online and app-based technology insurance solutions, like Pinnacol Assurances “Cake.” Currently limited to only Colorado, I originally conjectured that Cake would be Pinnacol's vehicle for expansion beyond its home state. I was wrong on that point (I knew that would happen eventually), but in discussions with Cake's leadership learned they hope to license the technology to other state funds in the future. It could potentially provide a new dynamic for those jurisdictionally restricted entities, while making the purchase of comp insurance much more convenient for a multitude of small businesses.
I can personally attest to the fact that small businesses have been looking online for workers' comp solutions for years. As operators of the domain WorkersCompensation.com, we've seen that trend. In fact, over the last decade or so, more than 60,000 businesses have contacted our site in search of workers' compensation insurance coverage. We haven't had a great solution for them, but in a few months that will also be changing.
More on that down the road.
It is clear that traditional methods of selling insurance are under pressure from the same technologies that gutted the travel industry. Agents need to specialize and adapt, as the market around them changes in significant ways. This will become even more relevant as millennials advance further into decision making roles. They are far more comfortable dealing with such topics online, and the importance of face to face contact in such endeavors, while not being eliminated, will surely fade.
Our world is changing, and many are learning to adapt. The future is here; whether it is as easy as pie or just pie in the sky remains to be seen.
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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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Bob is an accomplished speaker for the workers' compensation industry. He is available for conferences, corporate events, children's birthday parties and Bar Mitzvahs. You may access his Speakers Brief here.