Let’s Get Digital with Erin Dyer Blain

Sep 6, 2022 | Podcast

On this week’s episode of The Cowbell Factors, we had the chance to talk with Cowbell’s very own Director of Digital Distribution, Erin Dyer Blain. Her background and career path have led her to be a perfect fit for shaping all things digital distribution at Cowbell.

Erin started her professional career at Oracle, where she witnessed adoption and usage cycle in a cloud vendor space. Then, she moved to Markel Corporation’s alternative distribution team. Now, at Cowbell, she “enabl[es] our distribution partners to engage in trade with Cowbell in a digital fashion.” 

Specifically, “digital” in this context refers to powering any experience that leverages our Application Program Interfaces (APIs) to offer Cowbell’s product outside the standard broker portal. Cowbell’s digital distribution compliments Cowbell’s other functions, like the Product, Engineering, Underwriting and Sales teams. 

As an industry, insurance is slowly migrating toward a digital-first model, and Cowbell is leading the charge. In Erin’s words, “everything Cowbell does is digital.” 

Cyber insurance is perfectly suited for digital distribution. Historically, cyber insurance has involved long applications, slow adoption, and minimal engagement with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). At Cowbell, the entire process of getting insurance can take place online, through our AI-powered platform that streamlines the quoting experience by leveraging third party data on behalf of the broker. This results in an easier, faster, and less error-prone process as it removes the bias inherent in traditional underwriting, positioning Cowbell as “a bespoke option for a lot of our agency partners that want to double down on digital.”

Erin offers a useful comparison for our listeners to better understand why agencies use digital distribution and what powers it. She compares APIs to Google Flights, something a user inputs information and then gets multiple options back. In the insurance context, APIs mean that a wholesaler can spend a few minutes on carrier portals and receive a quote from Cowbell as well as from several other markets. Consequently, this is a more efficient use of time for agents and provides more options for insureds so they can choose the coverage that is the best fit for them. It is important to keep in mind that adopting digital distribution is “not an overnight transition; it’s an evolution that I think is focused on efficiency and really underlined by transparency,” says Erin.

Cowbell has two products in the marketplace that are powered by APIs and digital distribution today: Prime 100 and Prime 250.

Prime 100 is Cowbell’s admitted product and is insurance coverage best fit for businesses with up to $100 million in revenue. It offers a fully online experience with an easy and brief application because of Cowbell’s AI-powered approach to support its underwriting decisions. Prime 100 takes the insured all the way through to issuance with an instant quote on the product 100% of the time.

Prime 250 offers a similar experience, but is non-admitted and is sold and placed by wholesale agency partners or larger retailer partners who are surplus lines licensed. Like Prime 100, Prime 250 starts with a streamlined, brief application. It is more robust coverage, as it serves businesses with up to $250 million in revenue. Prime 250 is leveraged to get APIs to power comparative rating solutions, meaning that the wholesaler completes an application and instantly gets terms back from Cowbell. 

Recently, Cowbell announced that it has doubled its capacity behind the Prime 250 product. This means that “all of our partners in the distribution and insurance of this product really believe in what we are doing here and have given us the capacity to go out and sell this product through our agency partners.” It is the automated quotes, competitive pricing, support of sales with Cowbell services (e.g., Cowbell Factors) and longevity of the product itself through the doubled capacity that makes Cowbell’s Prime 250 product better for digital distribution compared to other markets and the industry at large.

Cowbell encourages agents who are interested and want to engage with APIs to reach out to Cowbell and try a digital strategy. “Part of the strategy on our side is to be agnostic and plant a thousand seeds. You never know which agency will take off with this technology…the door is open to engage with anyone who is committed to digital,” Erin explains.

Erin concludes, “Cowbell was built on the premise of being digitally-native and we have the advantage, as a younger company, to be focused on every decision we make, so we are not held back by legacy systems. We are solutions-oriented, so if our partners come to us wanting to build something a certain way, we have the resources for making sure that is so.”

If you are interested in getting more resources on API-based quoting, please visit https://cowbell.insure/for-agencies/, or send a note of interest to [email protected]. To hear Erin discuss these topics and more, listen to the full podcast episode.

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