The growing significance of insurtech
"Patra named Company of the Year for 2020"
In the context of business, the adage, “Stick to what you know” entails that an organization must focus on its strengths rather than investing time and resources into functions that, albeit integral to its processes, fall outside its area of expertise. With regard to insurance brokers, the priority should ideally be selling insurance, developing and creating new insurance products by partnering with carriers and getting them all into the market faster than their competitors.
Launch From Original Source
However, the growing significance of insurtech and how it impacts insurance-related processes have pushed insurance brokers to venture out of their comfort zone. Suddenly, they are required to address technology-related “peripheral aspects” of their business, such as researching and deploying the ideal Lost Run application, Policy Checking software, Insurance Cert (Certificate) tracking and compliance management software, Insurance Indexing system, and various other technology solutions needed to serve their customers better.
Furthermore, with new solutions launching ever so frequently, insurance brokers are required to make multiple technology evaluations, purchases, changes, and re-evaluations, a series of time-consuming and expensive tasks that also create a fragmented infrastructure.
In reality, they don’t have to undertake this burden onto themselves.
Just ask 7 of the 10 largest consolidators—or large PE-backed insurance broker firms—in the U.S. To relieve themselves of such obligations, these multi-billion-dollar insurance brokers have placed their faith in Patra, one of the foremost solutions providers that has been driving profitability and customer acquisition for insurance brokers since 2005.
Patra’s preeminent position in the broker sector accounts for 62 percent of the top 100 insurance brokers, 60 percent of the Top 10 largest P&C Wholesalers, and 70 percent of the Top 50 Commercial Line agencies. Besides the broker space, Patra continues to grow in the MGA, wholesaler, and carrier markets. “We are taking customers on a journey into the future of insurance. They need not worry about which technology solutions to evaluate or deploy,” says John Simpson, founder and CEO of Patra, and an innovator and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in leading technology-focused companies. Instead of taking on those worries, Simpson says that clients can approach Patra and be provided with only the best-in-class technology. “By making decisions for them, we allow them to focus on their business and provide engaging customer service to their own customers,” he adds.
Been in the Trenches with Insurance Brokers
When Simpson and his team founded Patra in 2005, they were responding to a glaring industry pain point. Since Simpson was an insurance broker himself, he saw from close quarters that paper-based processes were still rampant, and organizations were unwilling to adapt to technology solutions. Nearly 15 years later, Patra, which continues to print, email, fax, and mail insurance certificates on behalf of its clients, has a clearer picture of the percentage of clients who still use paper-based processes. The rate dipped a fraction ten years ago but still stands at 65 percent, informs Simpson. “It is shocking that the number has not fundamentally changed in all these years,” he rues.
As Patra gradually learned and observed the processes undertaken by brokers, it identified that the biggest problem—why paper-based processes still exist—is based around certificate processing, distribution, and the contact information of the insurance certificate holder. The data was incomplete, fragmented, or not accessible, which meant that brokers reached a saturation point and could accommodate only 35 percent of the processing requests.
These challenges gave birth to Patra’s full-service certificate processing solution, CertVault—a proprietary cloud-based certificate repository that provides brokers, insureds, and holders with 24/7 access to view, obtain and distribute certificates of insurance on any device. By applying robotic data extraction and blockchain technology, certificate data is seamlessly converted and stored in CertVault, ensuring swift and secure digital delivery, certificate accuracy, and compliance.
CertVault also brings to life “a nationalized distribution system” that allows brokers to use the network effect to obtain and maintain all the contact information necessary and search electronically, rapidly replacing the conventional paper-based search. “If we utilize each other’s connectivity through CertVault, the contact information will be centralized, nationalized, and the need for paper-based cert is going to disappear rapidly,” elaborates Simpson.
In summation, CertVault streamlines all elements of the certificate of insurance process—ranging from template creation, management to delivery.
To Patra’s credit, streamlining insurance certificates is one of many areas that it tackles. From its early days, Patra began expanding its solutions to include policy checking, direct bill reconciliation, downloading, lost run ordering, and analysis reporting.
A Bucket of Cloud-Based Solutions
All those solutions culminate in the form of PatraOne, a flexible cloud-based platform that Patra internally leverages to bolster its 24/7 workforce capabilities and more than 3,600 employees. The platform prioritizes, distributes, and monitors millions of work requests from Patra’s customers to various teams in the company across the globe. Simpson explains, “PatraOne is our technology infrastructure that allows our global workforce to manage distributed work with all our customers across the board, regardless of their account or any app they are running.”
Besides PatraOne, the company also provides cloud-based solutions to answer the customers’ technology needs. Simpson informs, “Our cloud-based solutions are designed to allow our customers to take control and own that solution.” The array of solutions, which are carved out from the PatraOne technology stack, include PatraPay, QBIS, and the aforementioned CertVault, targeted to replace paper-based functions. PatraPay, a payment solution, focuses exclusively on eliminating paper checks and streamlining premium financing documentation and ACH and credit card into one system by fragmenting the reconciliation process of payments, especially during insurance cancellation. QBIS is Patra’s policy management platform for agents/brokers and insureds in order to quote, bind, issue, service, and renew insurance policies in a digital and modern format.
The Patra OnDemand Service line targets specific tasks that brokers, MGAs, wholesalers, and carriers perform within their company, such as issuing insurance certificates, policy services, claims services, accounting and billing, and over 160 workflows. This service line is a significant hit in the marketplace that the company issues over four million certificates a year.
As for Patra Select, this service line was designed specifically for brokers who give Patra a book of their business to manage, allowing brokers an option of having Patra be the broker of record or keeping the agency as the broker of record. This service is about handling customer service on behalf of its customers.
Patra Direct Model, an omnichannel global contact center capability, helps the insurtechs, carriers, MGAs to sell insurance directly to the consumer. Lastly, the printing service involves a printing and mailing center to print insurance certificates. Even in today’s digital age, Patra generates “millions of pages a month” of printing for its clients.
Through this array of solutions and services, Patra presents an end-to-end solution. “We do so by combining technology and our vast global human capital,” notes Simpson. “We are constantly evolving the methodologies and processes that over 3,000 of our employees are using to help our customers become more efficient in servicing their own customers.”
Speaking of human capital, Patra employs scores of U.S.-based, licensed insurance experts who become a part of Patra’s client teams to provide their customers with top-notch service and expertise. Through the white label program, Patra essentially provides the client with technology and human resources to rapidly and secure insurance. This service is part Patra Select, which mainly caters to insurance brokers with smaller accounts and hand over “the book role” to Patra, along with thousands of policies to manage.
Equipped to Undertake Assignments of All Sizes
What makes Patra unique is its ability to manage customers of all sizes. For example, as a testimonial to Patra’s excellence, Simpson narrates a success story involving a multi-national consolidator. As this multi-billion-dollar agency approached Patra to standardize the process across its organization, Patra applied its services, technology, and methodologies as a part of its fully-integrated solution. Today, the client organization is renowned for having some of the best margins and one of the most standardized streamline processes in the marketplace.
The consolidator continues to acquire agencies every month, which would have otherwise disrupted its workflows and processes. However, thanks to Patra’s integrated solution, the consolidator can carry on without breaking a sweat. Simpson says, “We have been their primary and exclusive partner all through these processes.”
“If we utilize each other’s connectivity through CertVault, the contact information will be centralized, nationalized, and the need for paper-based cert is going to disappear rapidly”
To elucidate on the benefits of the Patra Direct service, Simpson cites the example of an upstart Insurtech company which wanted to bolster its omni-channel capabilities. At the start of the engagement, Patra deployed barely five people to help the client sell insurance via its global call center offering. Patra has received an order to deploy another 40 by the end of 2020. “Again, because of our PatraOne platform, we’re able to expand our human capital and technology infrastructure to add these people rapidly,” says Simpson, before adding that both success stories are ongoing and recent.
Enabling Clients to Overcome System Fatigue
Quoting a famous phrase, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Simpson believes in gradual development over time. He mentions that with a number of new technologies crawling up in the market, each solving particular a use case, the diversity of these ‘point-in-time’ solutions has resulted in the customers’ system and application fatigue. Simpson remarks, “Patra tries to resolve the problem of insurtech by bringing in solutions powered with state-of-the-art technologies like blockchain, AI technologies, Robotic Automation under one umbrella without the customers having to worry about the underlying technology solution, thus ensuring the best methodologies and technology along the way.”
With a motive to lead its customers on a journey into the future, Patra has always analyzed the issues present in the insurance landscape and braced itself to deal with the upcoming challenges. This ability of Patra has found its testing grounds in the times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the kind of uncertainty the situation has instilled amongst people towards the future. “We’re now in an environment where there’s a flood in one region, a hurricane in another, fires on the west coast, and a global pandemic—all of which cause disruption in the workforce and bottlenecks in the workflow chain. We are prepared for any and every unforeseen event,” stresses Simpson.
Patra has been able to sustain its businesses—which relies a ton on human capital—thanks to the flexible and scalable platform. Furthermore, Patra extended its Work-from-Home capability for its employees in India and the Philippines within weeks while the U.S. workforce managed the situation. Taking the capability one step further, Patra deployed Centers of Excellence, an innovative overseas hub, to train and onboard people as necessary.
Besides the COVID-19 scenario, Patra strives against technological stagnation and works to increase insurance workflow efficiency by digitalizing the certificates and policy checking in an otherwise a paper-intensive sector. In this persuasion, Patra has come a long way from enabling insurance brokers to issue certificates faster and more efficiently to include policy checking, direct bill reconciliation, last run ordering, analysis reporting, and more.
On a closing note, Simpson emphasizes that Patra “leading customers on a journey into the future of insurance” is not just a catchphrase but the reality of the situation. “We want our customers to focus on what they’re good at, which is selling insurance. Let us handle the rest,” he concludes.
Patra is a leading provider of technology-enabled insurance outsourcing. Patra powers insurance processes by optimizing the application of people and technology, supporting insurance organizations as they sell, deliver, and manage policies and customers through our PatraOne platform. Patra’s global team of over 6,000 process executives in geopolitically stable and democratic countries that protect data allows agencies, MGAs, wholesalers, and carriers to capture the Patra Advantage – profitable growth and organizational value.