PIMA Member Spotlight: Embark
The following are insights from PIMA member Embark on the current and future landscape of the insurance industry as a whole, as well as the affinity market. Discover the company’s vision for the future and leadership lessons to get there:
Embark is a managing general agent and program administrator for property and casualty insurance programs, specializing in providing turnkey insurance solutions. Founded in 2018, Embark offers niche, specialty, and custom programs, including nonstandard auto insurance, manufactured and mobile homeowners insurance, mobile home and RV park insurance, and other specialty property programs. Led by a seasoned leadership team with vast carrier experience in product management, claims, underwriting, marketing, distribution, and technology, Embark looks forward to becoming a reliable PIMA member in the insurance and affinity space.
Embark is constantly evolving with the insurance industry, having developed sophisticated integrated systems that enable us to quickly analyze customer risk profiles, perform comprehensive exception-based underwriting, provide real-time access to policy documents, and ensure accurate billing and payment processing. Our team brings together extensive industry experience, technology capabilities, and operational excellence in order to offer unique value propositions to our partners and clients.
The Next Generation of Leaders Needs to Adapt
As the pandemic has shifted us to remote and hybrid work models, technology that helps us get the job done has been paramount. But we are still working to create workplace cultures where team members are engaged, collaboration is second nature, and purpose is found while working from home. It’s an even bigger challenge for less experienced professionals who lack the familiarity of a more structured environment from pre-pandemic company cultures.
The best leaders know how to motivate, build connections, ignite inspiration, and foster development as our work lives evolve. These same skill sets extend to establishing mutually beneficial and high-functioning strategic partnerships, a vital capability for adapting in the dynamic workplace. We believe mentoring and fostering the next generation of leaders to be able to do these things from a virtual setting is a differentiator. Once these skills start to be mastered, the next generation of leaders will be even more ready to be industry innovators.
Keeping Up With Innovation in the Insurance Industry
Every day in the insurance industry, companies are bringing innovative ideas to the table. Particularly in property and casualty insurance, two areas stand out:
1. Applied Artificial Intelligence in Insurance. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are being used to improve risk selection, capture appropriate prices, minimize fraud, and create efficiencies in the underwriting process. This is especially relevant now, as companies are looking for additional ways to restore, maintain, or improve their profitability.
2. Program Customization. Customizing insurance programs for specific markets and distribution partners is the next generation of product management. Affinity programs are great examples, as they can provide enhanced customer experiences in insurance and enable “agent-light” service models, allowing consumers to access insurance from more places. Now, add tailored coverages, benefits, and servicing models to personalize protection and create enduring branded experiences.
Top Challenges to Overcome
The main obstacles we face are enabling insurance access for all customers, innovating effectively and efficiently, and ensuring appropriate rate adequacy. Regulators require insurers to make sure their premiums are not only fair, but also sufficient to cover operating expenses and pay out any claims while still allowing a reasonable profit.
The extraordinary inflationary environment, coupled with more frequent catastrophic events, has made it particularly challenging to keep rates adequate. Regulators are balancing multiple constituencies — on the one hand, restoring underwriting profitability to carriers; on the other, being sensitive to the impact of inflation on consumers’ wallets.
As a leadership team, we spend a lot of time ensuring our commitment to being a stable market for customers and distribution partners through pricing discipline and operational excellence.
We also stay tuned in to the impact of the macro environment on our end customers. Embark serves people living paycheck to paycheck to a greater degree than most providers. Our customers face daily choices on which bills to pay — rent, credit card, insurance, etc. — and inflation makes those choices even harder. We’ve responded with more flexible payment plans and other ways that make it easier to maintain coverage while continuing to provide fair and responsive claims resolution.
Though the challenges we face aren’t unique to us or the industry, our response is always guided by our commitments to our partners and the unique needs of our customers.
Where the Affinity Market Is Headed
In the evolution of the insurance industry, we expect to see investment and partnerships in “embedded insurance” grow exponentially in the next year and emerge as the fastest-growing distribution channel for all lines of insurance. Fundamentally, the embedded model reduces adverse selections, offers easier buyer experiences, and creates more enduring matches to customer needs. All this leads to more profit, faster growth, and superior customer experiences.
We also see a significant opportunity for more collaboration between affinity markets and program administrators to design underlying products and service models tailored to the segment and experience. This is in an effort to “wow” the end consumer and create brand preference, improving retention and creating opportunities to introduce additional revenue streams (e.g., ancillary products).
How to Stay Relevant in a Rapidly Changing Industry
Focus on customers! It’s so easy to forget the end consumer in our daily decisions. We’re focused on internal processes, regulators, agents, and business partners. Customers also need a seat at the table in all decisions — especially decisions with the customer impact in mind. Make it easier. Solve aggravations. Be accessible. Anticipate needs. Be there for the customer when it counts the most.
Know who you are to whom as a company. Visualize what this looks like in the long term, apply passion and persistence, and have the confidence to say no to opportunities that distract from that vision.
We value long-term, strategic partnerships with our carrier, reinsurer, and distribution partners and strive to be their “insurance wingman.” The wingman concept personifies how we serve our partners:
- A wingman inherently means partnership; we value long-term strategic partnerships.·
- A wingman is not the focus of attention; we elevate our partner’s performance from the side.·
- A wingman exists to make partners successful, turning blind spots into opportunities. This is the value we bring our partners.·
- A wingman always has your back, rising to the most precarious situations.
Embark is keenly aware of the changing insurance industry and customers’ needs. With a focus on creating long-term strategic relationships with distributors and carrier partners, we strive to be their wingman, turning risk into their prosperity while creating a superior customer experience in underserved and niche markets.
Published on March, 14, 2023.
PIMA® (Professional Insurance Marketing Association®) is a member-driven trade association focused exclusively on the affinity market.