The Future of Insurance Podcast – Steve Shaffer & Brent Williams

CEO of Homesteaders Life and CEO & Co-Founder of Benekiva

Season 4, Episode 23, July 11, 2023

Guest Bio

Steve Shaffer, CEO of Homesteaders Life, and Brent Williams, CEO and Co-Founder of Benekiva, join the show to share more behind-the-scenes details about the relationship their two companies have built. Homesteaders became Benekiva’s first customer while also taking on the role of first investor in a story full of lessons, insights and guidance about how a startup so new its founders still had day jobs and a nearly-120-year-old mutual insurer can work together to change both organizations. Their story is the final case in the new book in The Future of Insurance series, Volume III. The Collaborators.

Highlights from the Show

  • Benekiva is a digitized claims, servicing and new business platform for insurers
  • Brent came up in the industry and saw the need for it first hand, and when he couldn’t find a solution, he set out to build it
  • Homesteaders pays over 60k claims per, and saw the need for Benekiva’s help, and knew it would be faster to partner than build it themselves
  • Benekiva went about things in a different way than was the norm in the industry, where most vendors over-promise and under-deliver; while people don’t necessarily intend this, Benekiva almost goes 180 on the whole mindset to be completely transparent and honest about the good and the bad
  • For HLC, they also invested in Benekiva, which was their first insurtech investment, and their first true innovation investment
    • This took a lot of purposeful action and willingness to challenge themselves culturally to actually change their organization and how they think about innovation
    • They didn’t have the scale to create a $100m venture fund or setup a big innovation team, but neither of those things would have had the same broad effect on the company as a whole
  • They drew a wall between the investment and client side because there could be unintended consequences of melding the two
  • As they got into the project, they started to notice that they were deviating from the 80/20 rule to more like 99/1, where a very small number of outlier requirements were holding up the whole project, which lead to one of the tougher spots in the project
    • They found that a consultant was working between the company, dragging the project – and their contract – out, rather than helping to move them to completion
  • This helped inform new values for HLC, including being bold, which shows up in how they work across the business today
  • Brent shares how different it is to build a great piece of tech vs. installing or delivering a great piece of tech, which is a whole other level of task
    • That brings in all of the complexities of your client on top of any questions about your technology

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Thank you to our sponsor

This episode is brought to you by The Future of Insurance Volume III. The Collaborators, part of the Future of Insurance thought leadership series ( from Bryan Falchuk.

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