Electronic Chat with Martin Burlingame
Laura Mazzuca Toops | October 18, 2019
Martin Burlingame is CEO at Commercial Insurance Group LLC dba Bigfoot Insurance, an MGA and program administrator supporting underwriters and independent insurance agents. Based in Colorado Springs, Bigfoot specializes in niche markets including contractors and other hard-to-place risks.
How did you first get into the insurance business?
I was in the high-tech industry when the market collapsed in the early 2000s. I did a self-assessment and determined that I was best suited for real estate or insurance and I decided I wanted my weekends free!
You have had an interesting career: from the U.S. Army, independent insurance agent, and tech guy. How has each of these jobs influenced your current position?
My time in the army helped me develop the ability to delegate and to prioritize tasks. This has served me well as I moved into insurance and handling the new technology applications that we develop. Success is about being able to focus on what makes money and can be achieved within the established time frame.
What do you enjoy most about working with specialty lines insurance?
Every day is different. We’ve had days where we get shrimp farms, explosive factories, weird products, and the homes of movie stars -- each one unique and requiring a different thought process.
What do you predict will be the biggest insurtech trend affecting the property/casualty insurance industry over the next few years?
The implementation of gig economy products across the entire insurance ecosystem. We’ve launched multiple insurtech products to handle the gig economy and they gain traction quickly as people become early adopters
What are the trends outside of the insurance industry that will have the biggest impact on your business – e.g., the growth of medical marijuana, growth of Airbnb-type gig economy, booms and busts in construction, blowback on e-cigarettes, etc.?
Marijuana continues to be the driving force for insurance change. It’s a new product which forces the creation of new forms, exclusions, applications, and types of insurance. Booms and busts will continue and the e-cigarette market remains hard to insure but marijuana, CBD, and hemp continue to explode. Agents have to be able to insure bakeries, candy manufacturers, lotions and oils manufacturers, grow facilities and all kinds of new uses for these products.
I love the name Bigfoot. Any special significance to the cryptid reference?
We handle hard-to-place policies with hair on them. If you are having issues finding a carrier we can help!
The imminent demise of the independent insurance agent has been predicted – wrongly – for years. However, between M&A and shifts in the industry, it is true that the number of independent agents has been dwindling for awhile. How can independent agents use insurtech to thrive in today’s challenging environment?
Everything is about speed to market. We’re in discussions with multiple market segments about innovative ways to provide insurance to their product distribution models. This requires nimble, independent insurance agents who can handle complex problems and adapt quickly. For example, we had our tiny home program up and running within 90 days of Identifying a need. Larger agencies could not pivot that fast, and captive agents could not bring the carrier selection to help address the problem.
What do you enjoy doing outside of insurance? Any special hobbies or activities?
I love to travel, cook and run. I’ve got two kids in high school/college and we’re active with Young Life and our church. This year we are hosting a Polish exchange student and we spend most days of the week shuttling between kids’ games, events, and activities.
Talent retention and recruitment has traditionally been an issue for the insurance industry. What is your company doing in this area?
We offer a competitive benefits package with a salary range that is in the top 25% locally. We’re constantly exploring the addition of new benefits to help recruit and retain new employees. Over 50% of our team is millennials, so we have added remote offices, work-from-home, pet adoption time off, and most recently we’re looking at enabling employees to use vacation time to pay off student loans. We do quarterly fund raisers (I pick one quarter and each team picks another quarter) – we’ve done breast cancer, school books, clothing drives, and had an axe throwing contest (at pictures of the senior leadership) to raise money for back-to-school backpacks. We also do monthly pot lucks to bring everyone together and the company pays for licensing and certification.
Any words of wisdom to industry newcomers?
We’re in a fun industry where everything is changing. Be able to go with the flow and adapt. Always review your quarterly expenses and income and focus on what makes you money. Most importantly, the new shiny object is not always the best thing to focus your time on.
- Property & Casualty Insurers Raise Digital Games as COVID-19 Elevates Customer Expectations, J.D. Power Finds
- Electronic Chat with Bobbie Shrivastav
- Meet the Board: Marissa Buckley
- Big Data and Insurtech: A Carrier Perspective
- Traditional Insurers Need Open Ecosystems, Partnerships to Remain Competitive, CapGemini Report Finds
- Electronic Chat with John C. Siegman
- 4 Ways AI is Empowering Insurers During COVID-19
- 6 Big Changes to Insurance from the COVID-19 Crisis
- Electronic Chat with Christopher Ewing
- Independent Agency Staff Morale High During COVID-19, New Survey Finds
- Electronic Chat with Brad Epker
- Tapping AI to Improve Policyholder Experience
- Electronic Chat with Manisha Bhargava
- ITA Pro Magazine, March/April 2020
- COVID-19 a Game Changer for Workers’ Comp
- Electronic Chat with Steve Comer
- COVID-19 Pandemic Forces Cancellation of ITA LIVE 2020
- Leveraging Digital Resources in the Time of COVID-19
- Electronic Chat with Robert Hartwig on COVID-19 and Insurance
- Celent Study: Most Small Businesses Still Unclear on Importance of Cyber Insurance
- The January/February 2020 ITA Pro is here!
- Deloitte: New C-Suite Roles Mean More Opportunities for Women
- Electronic Chat with Pankaj Parashar
- Electronic Chat with Tara Kelly
- Electronic Chat with Chuck Wilson
- ITA, InsNerds Collaborate to Enhance ITA LIVE 2020 Content and Coverage
- How SMBs Can Compete in Digital Ecosystems in the 2020s
- 4 Ways Insurance Can Prepare for New Data Privacy Laws
- Brewer Lane Ventures Launches and Hires Insurtech Vet Martha Notaras as Managing Partner
- 2020 GIA Cohort Launches on January 14
- The November/December 2019 ITA Pro is here!
- Electronic Chat with Joshua Snead
- Electronic Chat with Wendy Aarons-Corman
- Simplifying the Move to a Third-party Print Provider
- Take a Business-Driven Approach to Continuous Improvement for Core Systems and Processes
- Electronic Chat with Ron Glozman
- Guidewire’s Data Guru Mike Byam on How Insurers are Using Internal and Third-Party Data
- Electronic Chat with Russ Bostick
- Electronic Chat with Rock Schindler
- Electronic Chat with John Siegman
- Electronic Chat with Martin Burlingame
- Insurtech Landscape 2019: Top 5 Takeaways
- Grinnell Mutual Tackles Massive Transformation -- in Stride
- A Candid Conversation with Paul Mang
- SageSure Insurance Managers Improved Competitiveness by Consolidating Payments to a Single Digital Platform
- Digital Does Matter in Insurance-- And Insurers are Missing the Mark
- The 22nd-Century Insurer: Taking a Cloud-First IT Approach
- The September/October 2019 issue of ITA PRO magazine is now available in digital format here:
- ITA Pro Magazine May/June 2019
- Spotlight on the 2019 IASA Conference
- ValueMomentum Selects Erie as Site of Regional Development Center
- Capgemini and Majesco Become Alliance Partners
- Electronic Chat with Dr. Dan Shoham
- Electronic Chat with Todd Greenbaum
- Martha Notaras: The “Outsider” with an Amazing Inside View
- Electronic Chat with Larissa Tosch
- Martha Notaras Will Join ITA LIVE 2019 as a Keynote Speaker
- Five Things to Consider When Evaluating Your Cyber Risk
- ITA Pro Magazine, January/February 2019
- Synergy Between Insurers' IT and Analytics Teams Key to Operationalizing Insights, Says Novarica
- Major Ransomware Attack Could Hit U.S. with $89B In Economic Damages
- ITA Announces 1st of Three Keynote Speakers at ITA LIVE 2019
- Electronic Chat with Jeroen Morrenhof
- Legacy Systems Are Dead. Really? Don't Count On It.
- Now Accepting Nominations for the 2019 ITA Bridge Awards
- It's time to register for ITA LIVE!
- Registration is Now Open for ITA LIVE 2019!
- What to Expect from a Digital Experience Platform Implementation
- ITA Pro Magazine September Edition is Now Available
- It's National IT Professionals Day
- Save the Date for ITA-LIVE 2019
- OneShield Software and UrbanStat Work Together to Improve Real-Time Analytics and Risk Decision-Making
- ITA LIVE 2019 - SAVE THE DATE!
- Insurance Technology Association Announces New Editor-in-Chief
- August 2018 Edition ITA Pro Magazine is Now Available
- Enterprise Architecture in an Agile World
- Top 10 Tips for Securing Your Mobile Devices and Sensitive Client Data
- Industry Insight: 4 Global Insurance Trends in Digital, Data, Content Services and Security
- Diving Deeper into Prioritizing Your Strategic Digital investments
- Why Content Rules
- How Mass Personalization Will Open the Small Business Benefits Market
- At Year End 2017, Will Your Organization Be Protected from Cyber Risks?
- Do Insurance Bots Dream of Mitigating Risk?
- Conditioned to Respond
- Managing & Mobilizing Insurance Data in a Connected World
- Race to the Finish Line
- New Tools, New Opportunities in Claims
- ITA LIVE: Reaching Insurance Industry Crossroads
- Advice to Insurance IT Leaders: Keep Your Eye on the Ball
- New Date, Venue for ITA LIVE 2017
- Guidewire Makes Major Push to Small and Midtier Market by Acquiring ISCS
- Insurance Disruption is Happening Right Now
- Insurity Adds Strategic Investment Partner, General Atlantic
- Beyond Transformation: The Convergence of Finance, Risk, and Actuarial Functions
- The Rapid Evolution of Consumer Protection Regulation
- Talent Hunt: Finding, Attracting, Retaining Top People
- Insurers Flexing Their Distribution Models
- Technology Driving Disruption in Insurance
- Fear of ‘Next Bubble’ Challenges Life, Annuity Carriers
- Technology Allows Commercial Lines Insurers to Stand Out
- Single Sign-on Viewed as Biggest Tech Challenge for Agencies
- ISCS Observes 20th Anniversary; Scurto Predicts Major Changes Ahead
- Policyholders and Their First Impressions
- Progressive Making Progress on the UBI Front
- High and Dry: Insurers Search for Disaster Recovery Plans
- Insurers Sign The (Un)Dotted Line
- Reflections of a Retired Insurance CIO
- Mobile Device Management Just One Answer to BYOD Issue
- Lessons from GEICO and Progressive on Winning the Critical Buying Stage
- You Are a Target for a Cyber Attack
- Web-based Systems are the Next Evolution in Claims Technology
- Gaining a “Wow” Experience from Web Users
- Time to Shift from Business/IT Alignment to Business/IT Alliance
- Healthcare Insurers Changing to Consumer Model
- Organization is the Key for Selecting Software Vendors
- Analysts Expound on the Needs of the Mid-tier Insurance Market
- Finding the Cure for Obamacare’s Website
- New Software Solutions Benefit Insurers on the Inside and Outside
- Products, Market Impede Investment in Systems for Life Insurers
- Combatting Cyber Threats: Predict, Prevent, Persist
- The Future of Telematics Heads Beyond Insurance
- The Shame in Cyber Security Lapses
- Building Policy Administration Systems for the Future
- Insurers Look Into The Eyes of Their Policyholders
- It’s a New Dawn for the ITA
INSURANCE IT NEWS
- Veruna Forms Strategic Partnership with Insuritas
- BrokerTech Ventures and InsureTech Connect Announce Strategic Alliance
- MSO Promotes Megan Townley
- Investment in Risk Management Systems Booming, New Study Finds
- Origami Risk Appoints Sean Salvas Senior Marketing Strategy Lead
- Messagepoint Announces Availability of a Connector for Sefas’ Customer Communications Management Solution
- Property & Casualty Insurers Raise Digital Games as COVID-19 Elevates Customer Expectations, J.D. Power Finds
- Pie Insurance Raises $127 Million in Latest Financing
The Email Chat is a regular feature of the ITA Pro magazine and website. We send a series of questions to an insurance IT leader in search of thought-provoking responses on important issues facing the insurance industry.
ITA LIVE 2020
ITA LIVE 2020 –SAVE THE DATE!
April 5th – 7th, 2020
The Diplomat Resort
Become a member today to receive updates – www.itapro.org/MR
BLOGS AND COLUMNS
COVID-19 has said to insurers, “It’s time to move... READ MORE
Without a very strong focus on data as a strategic and vital corporate asset, insurers will struggle to keep up with the necessary changes in the “new... READ MORE
You have surely heard it said that small businesses are the growth engine for America. Today, the phrase has a special ring to it for benefits... READ MORE
With stagnant growth and lingering low interest rates, the life insurance industry faces a challenging future... READ MORE
Finding insurance carriers willing to write commercial lines risks has always been a challenge for producers... READ MORE
As Guidewire Software prepares for the start of Connections, its 11th annual user conference that begins on Nov. 2, Brian Desmond, chief marketing... READ MORE