The Journal Gazette
Sunday, June 16, 2019 1:00 am

Disrupting how consumers buy insurance

Paperwork gone with direct sales

Sara Fiedelholtz | Fort Wayne Magazine

Parker Beauchamp is a fifth-generation insurance professional, but he is not following the traditional plan for selling insurance.

Instead, Beauchamp is working to transform how the insurance industry does business.

His forward-thinking abilities allowed him to take the Wabash-based, 144-year-old insurance firm Beauchamp McSpadden|Morrison Galliher and transform it into Inguard. As an insurance and risk management firm, Inguard provides an insurtech ecosystem with unparalleled ideas, products and services to its partners and policyholders throughout all 50 U.S. states and abroad.

“When I saw the potential for a digital revolution for the insurance industry I was really pumped,” Beauchamp said. “But it was essential to think about how to use technology to better serve our clients. I always think back to a Steve Jobs talk I heard in which Jobs said, 'You have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.'”

In 1996, Beauchamp was an early adopter of the internet and created a website for Inguard and began selling insurance online. He then started building microsites, using Search Engine Optimization marketing to get prospective clients in the door and even before the launch of Google, he was buying clicks for pennies. (Initially, payments for internet click-throughs were very inexpensive; now, they can cost anywhere from $80 to $100 per click-through. This makes the selling of insurance online difficult to monetize.)

“We did this for 10 years and it went well, but then everybody caught on and began to use technology as a distribution channel. We also saw that it was getting harder and harder to monetize the costs of selling insurance online to make a profit. We knew we had to be progressive and continue to evolve,” he said.

So Inguard began to focus on figuring out how to use application programming interface technology to incorporate the requirements and regulations of selling insurance in order to be able to innovate and digitally transform the insurance industry.

API technology allows an insurance firm to securely offer information and services to a wide range of related businesses to add value for those companies and provide them with opportunities to gain new clients by servicing their additional needs and giving a much better customer experience.

“Our partners are disruptors and innovators in their industries and reject the old way of doing things,” Beauchamp said. “They understand how they can bring the value and benefits of insurance to their clients.”

Inguard works with a variety of Fortune 500 and 1000 companies as partners to provide the back-end technology, which gives them the ability to sell insurance directly to their clients and customers.

For example, if a company sells cars through its relationship with Inguard and then uses its proprietary technology, the company can also provide the carbuyer the opportunity to immediately get insurance offers from various carriers, compare offers, and with the touch of a button buy insurance in real-time as they finalize the car purchase.

“Think about it. Traditionally when someone buys a home, it is the homebuyer's responsibility to go out on their own and get the required home insurance. They typically go to an insurance agent, who may only sell one insurance product, or maybe go to an independent insurance agent, who can get proposals from several carriers but involves a bit of time and paperwork and really doesn't offer transparency of the offers and information provided,” Beauchamp said. “But with what we offer, the homebuyer clicks a button, fills in the required information and immediately gets multiple proposals from different carriers and can easily select his preferred policy and purchase the insurance. Our partners can offer insurance faster and cheaper and keep their customers engaged with them.”

In 2013, Beauchamp went all in with this insurtech business model and closed all of Inguard's brick-and-mortar facilities except in Wabash. The company also eliminated all of its relationships with insurance brokers and consolidated all of its services and products under the Inguard umbrella in order to have its partners sell insurance directly to clients.

“Since then, we have seen double-digit growth year over year. But what is even more significant is the operational savings we have by being completely digital and a 100% paperless organization,” Beauchamp said.

“Everything we do is completely cloud-based and we offer a very progressive employment policy where our employees can work from anywhere. Really all they need is a keyboard, screen and connection to the internet. Personally, in the past 15 years, I don't think I have worked a complete day in my office.”

In wanting to support other innovators and disruptors in the insurance space, Beauchamp established an annual insurtech fellowship, where he provides entrepreneurs with access to resources, connections and money to accelerate their insurtech venture.

He also wanted to provide entrepreneurs outside the insurance industry with the opportunity to realize their ideas for disruption and innovation, so he created Innovate@Inguard, a state-of-the-art innovation space at the company's headquarters to spark creativity and encourage entrepreneurs. Beauchamp and Innovate@Inguard were awarded part of a $195,000 grant given by the Indiana Economic Development Corp. provided to the nonprofit Grow Wabash County to support various entrepreneurial programs.

Beauchamp is working to implement entrepreneur education at Wabash City Schools through the Unchartered Learning Curriculum. These initiatives include an after-school entrepreneurship club; enrollment of all of Wabash's eighth graders in a nine-week introduction to entrepreneurship course; and Wabash High School students getting involved in the INCubator education program.

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