Electronic Chat with Michael Kassing, CEO/CVO, insured.io
Laura Mazzuca Toops | March 01, 2021
Michael Kassing is CEO/CVO of insured.io (formerly TundraLogic), a B2B SaaS play in the insurance sector. A former combat medic with an insurance background in MGAs, he brings a unique perspective to the world of insurtech. In his words, insured.io takes “old, nasty insurance systems and updates them to today’s standards for portals, payment processing, client interfaces and quoting systems,” utilizing its Cloud Interactive Voice and Insured Portal products.
You describe yourself as a “human golden retriever.” What are your top canine abilities, and how do they apply to insurtech?
Let’s face facts: insurance is not the most fun and exciting of subjects. Much like going to a park and standing in the middle of a grass field, it can be decidedly boring. Now, take that same situation and insert a crazy, friendly, energetic golden retriever into the mix. Suddenly, you have a party, and you are throwing the ball while the dog does zoomies. Fun!
While I don’t typically chase balls, I do have a propensity for getting excited about bringing value to a static, under-leveraged asset. Most of our clients have good insurance products with a solid market fit for both consumers and producers. What they usually lack is that excitement factor in their engagements (the ball for the dog, so to speak) with their consumers. We help to bring that excitement back into their organization. I love to do zoomies on calls where we are figuring out the value proposition on what we can bring to the table and the assets that have gone underutilized.
I also like belly rubs.
Please tell us how you got started with insured.io.
For me, the transition to software startup was an easy one. Steve Johnson, the insured.io co-founder, and I were running the technology arm of a non-standard MGA in California. We figured out how to automate 90% of underwriting and increase retention by more than 20% using modern interfaces and client engagements. This was the testing lab where we could run our experiments and watch the metrics. When the MGA was acquired, we decided to take some of the lessons we had learned and move them into our own technology company so we could bring some of those ideas to a larger audience.
Bringing a well-designed, Amazon-style engagement to consumers and producers became the early focus of our company. The ever-changing way consumers want to be communicated with keeps me engaged in new technology everyday (someone keeps throwing the ball), keeps me energized, and the creative juices flowing.
Your background ranges from a combat medic in the U.S. Army to a law degree. How does this experience translate to your current insurtech career?
I also did a stint in pre-med in Washington where I worked in an ER and brought five people back from the dead, and my master’s degree education in Geological Oceanography (I went to law school rather than do my thesis). While it may look a little schizophrenic or undecided, the one common theme in this is knowledge. If I am, in fact, a human golden retriever, then knowledge is the ball I eagerly chase.
Having global knowledge of how the different pieces of the puzzle fit keeps the spiderweb of linkages in my mind growing. This is of value to my insurtech path because I can continue to “see” the path toward value in the varied different insurance systems. Taking a bunch of different insurance companies with varied technology environments and making a SaaS-based engagement center really tasks my abilities to see the connections.
Insured.io prides itself on easing the “pain points” for insurers. What do your customers say are their top pain points, and how does your company solve them?
By far, the main pain point for our clients is the inability to gather sufficient traction using internal teams or policy admin providers to bring something “new” to their existing IT environment. We shine by taking a different approach to integration. We take over the majority of work and guidance. There is very little work that needs to be done to bring the client’s data into our systems, and we tag into their tech in any way possible and reuse many of their existing exports and webservices. By taking over the work, we facilitate adoption of the new look and engagements in just about 90 days. This is a project implementation timeline most insurance companies just can’t fathom -- 90 days to come out with a whole new persona and engagement pattern with little effort from their internal teams.
One of our non-standard insurance company clients had eight different policy admin systems across five brand channels that we unified in 90 days. We re-used a few web services and exports from other clients on the policy admin systems and took a few flat files to create our data repository to produce a unified consumer front-end with full consumer portal, integrated voice response (IVR), payment reminders (text, emails, and calls), and an autopay solution. We have gone on to include an app and a customer service representative (CSR) unified portal for quicker onboarding of CSRs. In the next 90 days, we are unifying the producer experience and coming out with a direct-to-consumer sales platform. Fast and efficient.
What do you see as the biggest insurtech advantages that are impacting the industry today?
Consumer behavior in the post-COVID world. This is huge and will continue to increase the adoption of online alternatives to real-world interactions. The insurance industry was already turning to online adoption for direct-to-consumer (DTC) insurance before COVID hit. While this adoption is mostly in personal lines at this point, we are seeing some light commercial adoption for the DTC model. While the increased adoption of online interaction and self-service was already moving forward, it is now in full ludicrous mode (hat tip to my buddy, Elon).
As chief vision officer, where do you see your company – and the insurance industry – headed over the next few years?
Like many things in the world right now, consolidation is the key driver because of a flood of money that needs to be put to work. I believe that insured.io and the insurance industry are both facing the same outcome: getting gobbled up by someone larger with more free cash. In the insurtech space, all of the smaller, faster movers are being purchased by larger software companies, typically publicly traded entities. They are creating ecosystems and towers of insurtech plays in order to create increased value and adoption across the platforms. Payment providers, policy admin systems, broker management systems, and more are all being purchased for that enhanced value proposition.
I do not believe this is a bad thing for insured.io or our clients. Belonging to a larger, more robust ecosystem where trusted partners can be brought to bear on a unified goal really brings the value intended. The same consolidation over the next few years will also bring a new environment for the next generation of insurtech startups. When everyone is big, the advantage goes to the small and fast. I look forward to the next holes in the market that open.
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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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