Nationwide develops digital storefront with assist from insurtech Bold Penguin

Nationwide is partnering with the insurtech Bold Penguin to create and deliver a Digital Storefront for commercial customers and agents. The goals are to speed up underwriting, enabling small businesses to get commercial insurance quotes quickly and easily by phone or online. Businesses have the option to bring in an agent at any point in the process.

The first phase of the rollout focuses on micro business owners with fewer than five employees; subsequent phases will introduce additional functionality for business customers as well as agent capabilities. “Digitizing our products enables us to simplify the experience at the point-of-sale,” says Tony Fenton, VP, commercial underwriting and new product development for Nationwide “For agents, we’ll be able to streamline the question set, and create a better and faster overall experience for agents. Customers can get their solution faster and more easily. It’s all about speed, ease and efficiency, taking the friction out of the equation and creating a better experience.”

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Nationwide began its collaboration with Bold Penguin in early 2019. The insurer plans to do its first launch in August, concentrating on direct-to-consumer digital and telephonic capabilities. “We’ll continue to build on the feedback we get on the initial launch,” says Kasey Ketchum, director, commercial lines product innovation. “As we iterate with continued launches in 2019 and 2020, we’ll focus on creating greater value for the agent.”

Fenton explains that customer and agent expectations continue to evolve and both businesses and distribution partners demand easy transactions. “To continue to be relevant, and to continue to be a key partner for consumers and agents, we have to eliminate the friction,” he says.

Nationwide selected Bold Penguin for several reasons, according to the executives: First, the insurtech’s approach is to supplement and not disrupt the carrier strategy. In addition, the firm’s technology, focus on commercial lines and its CEO, Ilya Bodner’s, background as an agent made the solution and partnership compelling. And the Bold Penguin API-first approach lets Nationwide build UIs quickly. “Bold Penguin’s rules engine and entry portal allow us to accomplish the speed, east and efficiency with single entry,” Fenton adds.

Close collaboration

With both companies based in Columbus, their proximity has facilitated a close working relationship and spirit of collaboration. “It’s the software and Bold Penguin’s ability to deliver quickly, openly collaborate and bring those insights into the development of net new solutions,” Ketchum notes. “The collaboration allows us to employ a multi-discipline team approach on both sides to build upon the best solution that includes business, technology, digital, user experience and more, to build the best solution.”

The solution will help Nationwide deliver on speed and ease, enhancing the agency channel and providing greater enablement in the direct channel. It will incorporate Commercial Digital Direct (CDD), an online platform for micro business owners that provides full-service, end-to-end digital capabilities across the insurance life cycle. The insurer launched CDD in September, 2018.

Both firms are intrigued with the innovation that’s occurring within the partnership. “Innovation, from our perspective starts with the customer first which is our agent, and ultimate consumer. We’re serving the needs of our agents and customers first, versus creating the tech and hoping it works in market. It’s about creating that experience that meets the needs of customers and agents,” Fenton says.

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