Interview with Mike Albert of AskKodiak on InsurtechBoston

This interview originally appeared in the 5/9 edition of Insurance Marketing Weekly.

The first InsurtechBoston event was held on May 5. We talked with one of its organizers, AskKodiak Co-Founder Mike Albert, about how the event came to be, what ground was covered during the panel discussion, and the Insurtech scene in Boston.

How did you first arrive at the idea to organize this group and event?

AskKodiak started its journey a little more than a year ago and we realized quickly just how strong the insurance tech community was in and around Boston. But, we also realized there was no central connecting thread. So many of the folks that we talked to had not had occasion to meet one another. And so, InsurtechBoston was born.

Talk a little bit about the process of organizing the event and how you went about getting panelists and sponsors together.

Organizing the event was as simple as deciding something needed to be done. A couple of casual conversations later, we discovered that we weren’t alone in this thinking. We were thrilled to find folks willing to step up in being involved in all facets — from planning, to sponsoring, to participating on the panel. Within the first weeks of announcing the event, additional sponsors got on board without any outreach per se.

The theme of the evening was “Broker versus Technology;” how do you think the panel did at addressing that core tension that we’re seeing in the insurance industry today?

Really well. We were lucky to have such a great group that represented so many unique perspectives. The ‘tension’ as you put it was validated by the highly varied answers, especially as it pertained to the role of the agent and broker in the future. Answers ranged wildly, which in some respects is exactly the issue right now. Things are changing, everyone agrees on that, but there are vastly differing opinions on where we’re headed.

Were there any surprising takes put forth by the panel or the audience during the Q&A that you found particularly surprising or enlightening?

One of the most interesting takes came from answers to this question: “what % of small business will be written with broker touch versus written by a technology presumably replacing the broker?” The panelists gave answers that ranged from 12% to 70%. (That’s a huge variance!) And its a reflection of a big theme over the past several months: how will the role of the Broker evolve and stay relevant? Opinions vary and vary strongly.

You had a large portion of the Boston Insurtech industry together in one room; what makes the Insurtech industry in Boston unique, if anything?

The culture for sure. Unlike other parts of the country, it’s not just new entrants to the insurance tech game. Unlike other parts of the country, it’s not just a bunch of insurance companies. We have this really unique blend of brokerages, big and small companies, and (1st and 2nd generation!) Insurtech software providers all represented. It’s not exactly the PayPal mafia, but multiple startups in the room had origins at Goji or AgencyPort. In many ways, those companies paved the way for this new generation.

What’s next for InsurtechBoston?

Chapter 2, baby! Working on it now, likely to be held in the fall. If you or your organization is interested in being involved in any capacity, hit us up at events@askkodiak.com

One final question: tell us more about your company, AskKodiak.

AskKodiak is kind of like Kayak.com for commercial insurance. Brokers get a really simple (and totally free) way to search for eligible carrier markets. Carriers get a digital marketing platform that gives them some unique analytics about what agents and brokers are searching for and some easy-to-use tools to feature their products. It’s way better than the Sharepoint portals, agency visits, and email blasts of the past. Check it out (and sign up!) at https://askkodiak.com/#/product.