American Family Insurance to Acquire Small Business Insurtech Bold Penguin

By | January 14, 2021

Madison, Wisconsin-based American Family Insurance is acquiring insurtech company Bold Penguin that serves small businesses.

The Bold Penguin digital exchange is used by insurance agents, brokers and other distributors to match, quote and bind policies from a range of insurers. Bold Penguin reduces the complexity of small business insurance buying.

The insurtech, based in Columbus, Ohio, will become a subsidiary of the American Family Insurance group, pending regulatory approval and closing.

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

The announcement said that Bold Penguin will maintain its name and business model, “operating with a relentless commitment to neutrality and confidentiality with its insurer, broker and agent customers.”

American Family plans to grow Bold Penguin’s platform that offers options from multiple insurers. American Family agency owners will also be able to use the platform with a suite of products available specifically to them.

Ilya Bodner, Bold Penguin founder and CEO, Ben Clarke, co-founder and chief data officer, as well as other leaders and employees will remain with the company.

Bill Westrate, American Family president and CEO-elect, welcomed Bold Penguin founders and employees: “Like American Family, they believe that innovating and collaborating with others is the best way to meet customers’ wide-ranging needs.”

Fabian Fondriest, president of the American Family Direct companies that sell products online and through partners, said Bold Penguin will have the “autonomy and support to fulfill its important roles with small businesses and partners.”

Last October, Bold Penguin acquired RiskGenius in a deal that the two commercial lines insurtechs said will help grow their reach more than they have been able to thus far on their own, Carrier Management reported. 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.

The company said RiskGenius is part of the deal.

Also, a year ago, Bold Penguin bought xagent, an independent, single-entry, multi-quote platform for standard and surplus lines business insurance market.

American Family is the country’s 13th largest P/C insurance group with $11.5 billion in direct written premium at the end of 2019. Auto and home insurance make up most of its sales, followed by commercial insurance, with a strong focus on protection for small- and mid-sized business and rental property owners.

“Ultimately, this is about small business customers and their communities,” said Westrate. “We recognize the importance of small businesses and we want to do our part to support them.”

Bold Penguin’s Ben Clarke and Ilya Bodner

American Family said it plans to grow Bold Penguin’s platform that offers options from multiple insurers. Additionally, American Family agency owners will be able to use the platform with a suite of products available specifically to them.

Bold Penguin launched its exchange in 2016 to enhance connections between small businesses, insurance agencies and insurers – reducing the complexity in the insurance-buying process for all parties. American Family Ventures, American Family’s venture capital firm, was one of the early investors in Bold Penguin.

Since its inception, Bold Penguin has raised more than $50 million in capital.

The deal is another in a recent series of insurance technology and insurtech-related mergers and acquisitions.

In December, leading insurance technology firm Applied Systems agreed to acquire digital insurance technology startup Indio Technologies, a move that will enable Applied Systems to integrate Indio into its popular agency management system Epic.

In November, global insurance broker Aon agreed to acquire CoverWallet, a leading digital insurance platform for small and medium-sized businesses, and insurance broker Brown & Brown acquired CoverHound, a digital property/casualty insurance marketplace, and CyberPolicy, CoverHound’s small business subsidiary.

In August, Insurance Technologies Corp. (ITC), a provider of comparative rating and management software, acquired Columbus, Ohio-based Smart Harbor, which provides digital technology products and services to insurance agents.

Topics Insurtech

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Latest Comments

  • January 15, 2021 at 7:37 pm
    Agency says:
    I have a good word on their captive agents, they are not the commercial type. Yes they can expand to the IA, but I am not sure this will help them.
  • January 15, 2021 at 9:20 am
    jd says:
    Agree with your comments and not sure why an independent agency would continue to support the Bold Penguin platform now that they are owned by Am Fam and the direct writer com... read more
  • January 14, 2021 at 5:53 pm
    dgaus says:
    Might want to research AmFam some more. AmFam is a provider of Commercial Lines as well as Personal Lines. This merger makes complete sense. They are trying to grow more in th... read more

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