The Future of Insurance Podcast – Bill Martin

President & CEO, Plymouth Rock Home Assurance

Season 2, Episode 9, December 28, 2021

Guest Bio

Bill Martin is President & CEO of Plymouth Rock Home Assurance in Boston, Massachusetts. He joined Plymouth Rock in 2016 and is in charge of our property insurance business and reinsurance programs. Bill has over 30 years of experience in the insurance industry. Bill was formerly President of Bankers Insurance, winning a Celent Model Insurer award in 2014 for simplifying homeowners insurance shopping. He also founded a startup with a new approach to flood insurance and has held senior positions at Farmers Insurance, Progressive and Travelers. Bill is a graduate of Stanford University, with a degree in Survey Data Research. He is a frequent speaker and author on insurance issues and has served on the Institute for Business and Home Safety and other safety organizations. He is an active board member of nonprofits that combat poverty and aid those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He is an avid sailor, skier and trombone player.

Highlights from the Show

  • Bill Martin is the President & CEO of Plymouth Rock Home Assurance, but has spent time at carriers like Progressive, Farmers and as a co-founder of Neptune Flood, which is featured in The Future of Insurance Volume II and episode 3 of season 1 of this show
  • Bill was at Progressive as they were setting up the Product Management role, which they modeled off the CPG world, to almost be a mini-CEO of a product, ultimately owning the bottom-line results for that product
  • Pricing isn’t a competitive advantage since anyone can charge some price or match you, so the advantage we need to create is really in the experience
    • If it was just price, GEICO wouldn’t advertise and would just let the savings on their ad spend result in lower prices
  • The faster quoting process you see from newer players or direct players actually works even more powerfully in the advised channel than the direct channel because agents can really dig into coverage and product rather than price
  • Cultural views of insurance are so interesting – in the US, the term “underwriter” may sound boring or like a line role, while in the UK, it’s a coveted roll and underwriters at Lloyd’s are like rock stars
  • Bill made a striking point about strategy, and how you need a culture of innovation and creation rather than focusing on a single strategy or copying what someone else successful has done; no one will ever repeat the success of GEICO or State Farm because it isn’t the same time when they succeeded. Instead, you need to build a culture where people will evolve success to a new meaning in a new era regardless of what has won before or not
  • Bill talked about the value of non-insurance people being in the mix, and why you need both mindsets to have technical expertise and an openness to think of different things and approaches, which is what you need to beat the competition rather than just competing
  • Thinking of what’s next, Bill mentioned two interrelated things
    • Long-term underpricing of Property insurance that needs to change because of inflation, loss trends and more
    • The need for more capital because of the scale of losses the industry is seeing so they can be spread across players rather than concentrated, but that means the returns to that capital need to be better, which takes better performing insurers
    • These two things combined will help clarify who the winners and losers are and allow quality insurers to expand

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