Blake Konrardy on the insurtech ecosystem in the US
” I expect more insurtech companies will focus on true disruption“
Blake Konrardy, Vice President of Product at Kin
Insurance Innovators spoke to Blake Konrardy on the growth of insurtechs in the US insurance market and how collaboration may play a crucial role.
Tell us a bit about Kin and how you are disrupting the industry?
B.K. Kin is a home insurance technology company that provides affordable coverage to homeowners in catastrophe-prone regions. We leverage thousands of property data points to customize coverage and prices through a super simple user experience. We take care of the complexity of home insurance so the customer doesn’t have to.
Whereas legacy carriers often neglect catastrophe-prone markets like Florida and California, we focus on serving these regions. These areas have the biggest challenges with insurance supply, but we can successfully service these areas because of our advanced data and granular underwriting.
One other point worth noting: Kin is a full-stack carrier, meaning we have both the tech platform as well as the insurance carrier. This allows us to own the customer experience from beginning to end and make it consistently exceptional. There is no middleman or “You’ll have to talk to the carrier about that.” It’s also more efficient than an agency model, allowing us to pass savings on to customers. And we can roll out new insurance products at our own (very fast) pace.
How is Kin using technology to enhance the lives and experiences of its customers?
B.K. Technology enhances every part of the customer journey at Kin. As much as I personally love insurance, I realize the average consumer wants to spend as little time dealing with it as possible. That’s why we built out an incredibly simple quote and purchase experience that can be completed fully online in under five minutes. For most properties, we get enough data in the background that the customer only needs to answer one or two questions about how they use their home and what coverage they would like to purchase.
For example, we get aerial imagery of the home that allows us to determine the type of roof and the general condition it’s in. This is not only faster but more accurate than trying to explain to a customer the difference between a hip roof and gable roof or 3-tab shingle and architectural shingle.
Technology also improves the claims experience. Customers can notify Kin of claims via text or call. After a catastrophe like a hurricane, we leverage aerial imagery of the area and drones to assess the damage and resolve claims quickly.
What does customer-centricity really mean to you and how does this manifest in the work Kin is doing?
B.K. Customer-centricity to me means putting myself in the shoes of the customer, understanding what is most important to them, and making that most important to me. I always want to understand the customer’s problem before trying to come up with a tech solution.
To this end, we realize that homeowners insurance in Florida is complicated, and many customers are not yet comfortable making coverage decisions without talking to someone. That is why we integrated our simple customer interface with our internal agent view, allowing a customer to seamlessly transition from online self-service to agent service. This allows customers to move at their own speed.
How do you see the role of insurtech evolving in the US insurance market??
B.K. Currently, a large portion of the insurtech ecosystem is focused on helping modernize traditional insurance carriers by transitioning off their legacy systems. While this is a logical step to make these companies more efficient, it is not transformative change.
Moving forward, I expect more insurtech companies will focus on true disruption by taking control of the end-to-end customer experience with their own carriers and integrating across other industries and points of sale. For example, an auto insurance company may also offer transportation services, and a home insurance company may offer warranty and repair services.
To what extent is collaboration crucial to future success (both from the perspective of incumbents and insurtechs) in the insurance industry?
B.K. Insurance companies today have some combination of a deep relationship with customers, innovative technology, operating efficiency, and capital. No one has all of them. This is where collaboration is needed. Incumbents need support to transform from legacy carriers into tech companies. Startups need capital and scale to achieve operating efficiency. Ultimately, the companies that can do all of these in-house will be the most successful, but until then, cross-company collaboration is needed.
Longer-term, the most valuable collaboration will be between insurers and other points of sale.
What does 2020 hold for Kin?
B.K. 2019 was a foundational year for Kin. We launched our insurance carrier in Florida, complete with our own policy admin system and customer-facing app. 2020 will be focused on rapid growth. We will ramp up our marketing to go deeper in existing channels as well as expand to new ones. We will also continue to add new insurance products like HO-6 (condo) and DP-3 (rental homes).
Given the changing climate and increased rate of catastrophes, we plan to double-down on our goal to support catastrophe-prone areas that are exposed to wildfire or hurricane risk and will focus our expansion in those areas.