Electronic Chat with Adam Kiefer, CEO, Talage
Staff Writer | August 31, 2020
Adam Kiefer is co-founder and CEO of Talage, an insurtech that specializes in working with both carriers and agents to grow and manage their business digitally, delivering insurance products and services to small businesses. The Talage Wheelhouse platform and its 12 A-rated carrier partners allow agents to sell via any digital channel, offering customers a true comparison-shopping experience. Talage is backed by Merus Capital, Calibrate Ventures, Hallador Financial, WTI, BrokerTech Ventures, Battle Born Ventures, and Acceleprise.
Talage recently announced its partnership with four regional Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America (IIABA) organizations to provide digital tools to member agencies.
For years, many in the independent agency space have expressed concern that apps and online platforms will replace them. Can the independent agency system coexist with this technology?
When it comes to independent agents, I am constantly reminded of Mark Twain, when he said, “The report of my death was an exaggeration.” The independent agent has withstood attacks from the “Insur-these” and the “Cover-thats,” yet, here we are in 2020 and the majority of small commercial insurance is still managed by traditional agents. The true value of technology will be realized when agents embrace it to handle some of the more mundane or redundant tasks, allowing them to focus on bringing advice and consultation, the expertise that tech can’t replace.
At Talage, we have built our Wheelhouse platform for agents so they can use technology to enhance their agent-client relationships. The platform automates some of the most tedious agent tasks, allowing businesses to work with agents 24/7 and agents themselves to focus on bringing as much value as possible to their customers.
What tech tools are carriers and agents using to improve that relationship and make transactions easier for both parties – and customers?
At Talage, we are focusing on making the quoting process as simple as possible for agents. For example, we have partnered with Accident Fund Group to bring their agents a digital application. This allows agents to deliver bindable quotes to businesses 24/7 via any digital channel, saving both agents and customers time during the insurance buying process.
How are carriers leveraging their agency force in conjunction with tech tools to improve the customer experience?
At this stage, carriers have experience working with the larger digital agencies and are learning what works well and what doesn’t. There are undeniable advantages to digital distribution, and those advantages are multiplied when paired with the network, reach, and expertise of independent agencies. Today’s leading carriers are now providing tools to their agents that bring these positive experiences to their customers, such as simplifying the application and purchasing process with partners like Talage.
Which insurtechs are targeting agents as their primary customers?
There are many insurtechs targeting agents as their primary customers, including Talage. Those with founders who do not have an insurance industry background simply see insurance distribution channels as an easy mark for disruption. Having worked in insurance for much of my career, It was important to me that Talage empower agents instead of attempt to further disintermediation efforts in the industry. Today, we are enabling agents to write small business coverages profitably, helping them grow their businesses, and improve overall efficiencies through the application or utilization of technology.
Are agents viewing AI and ML as a threat, or a potential advantage?
The short answer is that it depends on which agent you talk to. In many ways, these technologies are just buzzwords which still don’t have practical use for any given agent. As a result, it can be difficult to identify them as a threat or advantage. The exciting thing is that there are countless ways AI and ML can be leveraged by agents, and I believe those agents that understand the possibilities are eagerly waiting for new tools to enter the market that will allow them to take advantage of them.
How has the insurtech phenomenon changed the way agents operate?
The most important thing the insurtech movement has done in our industry is force incumbents to ask why. Why do we do things a certain way? Why can’t we automate that? We are in an exciting time when agents are evaluating all aspects of how they do business, and ultimately, we believe as a result, agents will become more efficient, productive, and most importantly more valuable to their customers than ever before.
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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.
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