Senkbile is an entrepreneur, but also a vice president and risk consultant with UNICO Group (and a 2020 rising star in that capacity for Insurance Business America). His broker day job handling large commercial property/casualty business gave rise to the idea for Ferro, he said, which initially launched in the spring of 2021.
“Ferro was really born out of my interactions with clients” Senkbile said, stemming from questions such as what they like and don’t like about buying insurance. The other, related issue: data gathering.
“Insurers require a whole lot of data… from a business owner in order to be able to purchase insurance, right? It’s a huge lift for that business owner to get all that information in,” Senkbile said. “Traditionally, where that happens is email back and forth, PDFs, Excel files, just a lot of back and forth every year at renewal.
Ferro has done away with a lot of those issues, he explained.
“We’ve eliminated a lot of that back and forth and created a live, living client data set that they can control and keep up to date through the course of years,” Senkbile said. “When renewal comes around, all they’ve got to do is click a button and the entirety of that data set flows out of Ferro wherever it needs to go. If that’s us as a brokerage, if that’s to third party insurer tech, if that’s a quote aggregator, if that’s straight to an insurance company, we can get it into this system much more efficiently.”
In essence, the platform enables collaboration between the policyholder and brokerage, establishing the policyholder as what Ferro refers to as “the data endpoint and source of truth.” The company’s website describes the system as “empowering brokerages and insurance buyers with a self-service insurance management system.”
The early stage insurtech, based in Omaha, NE, was one of 12 start-ups in the insurance space chosen recently for BrokerTech Ventures’ 2022 accelerator cohort class which ran from April 04 through May 06, and was designed to help the start-ups advance their technologies and work with mentors. They also gained $50,000 in seed funding as well as access to BTV’s multi-billion-dollar distribution platform to deploy the technologies.
Ferro has raised $600,000 in initial early financing, with three full time and five part time employees so far.
Senkbile said he sees schedules, or lists of company information, as being one of the biggest challenges for policyholders, brokers or carriers. These lists can include property location, equipment, cars or other company property, which become harder to manage once a company gets bigger. That is where Ferro steps in.
The company’s scheduling tool keeps client information “alive” and up to date through the course of the year, but it also incorporates what they’ve dubbed as a “change tracker.” This lets a broker or insurance company get a quick view of what has changed with a client, such as adding one car or removing one from the roster, which can change the deductible involved.
State of the art technology is not yet part of the equation, but it will come.
“[Artificial intelligence and machine learning] will certainly be a part of what we do. A big part of that will be our ability to aggregate policyholder information and then give it back to either the policyholder or broker to help them make better, more informed buying decisions,” Senkbile said.
Solving a specific problem
Early insurtechs from about 2014-2018 often had great ideas about transforming the industry and eliminating the need for brokers and agents to sell insurance. Newer start-ups have become smaller in reach, targeting a specific problem to solve. Senkbile agreed his company de él fits the second category, reflecting an industry realization that brokers and agents will still be part of the game, particularly for commercial insurance. In addition, I have noted, more legacy systems remain than some innovators would like.
Senkbile said his company is designed to adapt to those various dynamics and work with whatever tech reality companies face.
“What we always say to brokerages is ‘we don’t want to replace your tech stack or what’s already in your tech stack. We don’t want to disrupt what you’re currently doing,’” he said. “We just want to help it all work better by giving clients a data digital entry point into the system.”