Bold Penguin Acquires RiskGenius in Commercial Insurance Technology Deal

By | October 6, 2020

The main offering of Bold Penguin, launched in 2016, is a virtual exchange that helps agents and brokers triage, quote and bind commercial policies in a programmatic and rules-based system. It also helps carriers market their products to insurance agents.

RiskGenius, which also debuted in 2016, offers software that uses artificial intelligence to evaluate a variety of emerging risks across an entire portfolio of insurance policies.

Neither side would disclose the purchase price, but RiskGenius will keep its name, according to RiskGenius CEO and co-founder Chris Cheatham, who will become Bold Penguin’s vice president of Product, Insurance Intelligence.

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The pandemic has raised the stakes. Carriers and agents need to be able to do much, if not all, of the following: market, sell, bind and service commercial lines insurance online.

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This is Bold Penguin’s second acquisition in 2020. In January the company snatched up xagent, an independent, multi-quote platform for the standard and surplus lines business insurance markets.

With this new acquisition, Bold Penguin said it is trying to further build its products and services for commercial insurance clients.

“Bold Penguin is obsessed with reducing the time it takes to quote and bind commercial insurance,” Ilya Bodner, founder and CEO of Bold Penguin, said in prepared remarks. “Adding RiskGenius allows us to supercharge our data analysis efforts. Their policy level data approach helps our Exchange grow and ultimately has a significant impact in the quoting process for our customers.”

Plans call for adding RiskGenius’s data and analytics products, as well as the company’s employees, to Bold Penguin’s existing SaaS platform. Specifically, RiskGenius will become part of Bold Penguin’s insurance intelligence effort, which leverages data and has a focus on intuitive workflow processing, the companies noted. Bold Penguin and Risk Genius will combine their efforts and also identify plans to increase the reach and effectiveness of the features being produced.

Big Vision, and COVID-19

Cheatham told Carrier Management that RiskGenius agreed to be acquired because the companies’ cultures align. He said he’s known Bold Penguin’s founders “for years” and admires their vision to make commercial insurance better and more efficient. “We share a common mission to improve the speed and accuracy of commercial insurance. So combining our companies and solutions made a lot of sense to me,” Cheatham said.

COVID-19 was another indirect factor, Cheatham added, because it has rapidly boosted the demand for digital insurance.

“With COVID-19, the demand for digital insurance has accelerated and is creating a permanent shift in how businesses buy insurance,” Cheatham said. “Bold Penguin is the leading exchange for commercial insurance and we wanted to be a part of the opportunity that is ahead.”

Ohio-based Bold Penguin has raised more than $50 million in venture capital since its launch, with investors including Lockton, Guggenheim Insurance and Lightstone. Kansas-based RiskGenius pulled in $13 million-plus in venture capital from investors including QBE Ventures, the investment arm of QBE Insurance Group. About 140 people currently work for Bold Penguin, and 40 are at RiskGenius, according to a Bold Penguin spokesperson.

More insurtech M&As may lie ahead.

Industry observers have said that insurtechs are reaching a point where they will increasingly consider some sort of merger and acquisition (M&A) opportunity. A recent Deloitte report, for example, concluded that carriers will more eagerly target insurtechs for acquisition and partnerships in the months ahead, as carriers try to respond quickly to pandemic-driven digital demands. The economic uncertainty, in turn, is making insurtechs more flexible about being acquired, or quicker to pursue mergers or acquisitions of other insurtechs.

Other industry insiders have pointed out that the trend was already in play—that carrier strategic partnerships with insurtechs have been leading or will point organically to M&A overtures, though the pandemic has accelerated that process.

Cheatham himself said he expects other insurtechs to acquire or merge with each other in the months ahead, as the focus among startups shifts toward providing multiple offerings rather than a single solution.

“Insurance is a very complex process. Insurtechs generally have to choose one problem to solve within that complexity. As a result, insurtechs will find it beneficial to join forces and combine multiple solutions into one offering,” Cheatham said. “This is what the Bold Penguin-RiskGenius acquisition is all about. We are just ahead of the curve.”

This article was originally published by CarrierManagement.com.

About Mark Hollmer

Hollmer is a veteran business journalist and editor of CarrierManagement.com's daily e-newsletter for the property/casualty insurance industry C-suite. He may be reached at mhollmer@carriermanagement.com. More from Mark Hollmer

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