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InsurTech Ohio Interview with Mark Hara of Bold Penguin

Mark Hara is COO and President of Insurance at Bold Penguin, one of the strongest insurtech innovators in Ohio, which prides itself on integrating technology with a human touch. Mark was interviewed by Michael Fiedel, a Community Leader at InsurTech Ohio and Partner at PolicyFly, Inc.

Mark, how do you think customers feel about their experience when buying insurance?

“I don’t think they’re satisfied. When they compare their experience to other places they shop, Amazon and other online stores where you can shop anytime day or night, they expect that type of storefront. Insurers need to try to better meet that expectation. If you can provide great service and give them the advice they need to buy the right insurance, when they’re looking for it, then you have a tremendous opportunity.”

How do you attack identifying and planning ways to improve the customer experience?

“You simply need to draw it out on a piece of paper, map it out. Looking at the journey a customer takes as a whole will allow you to identify opportunities at certain steps to make it better, simpler, faster. That’s the approach I like to use to get inside a customer’s mind. Additionally, the great thing is agents and brokers get to talk to a lot of customers. We all need to take a step back and expand on our own experience to find a chance to improve. How did the customer find me? How did they reach me? How could I make that journey better?”

How is technology changing consumer expectations?

“Technology is more pervasive, it’s making everything more interconnected. It’s an exciting time in the industry. We now have better capabilities to serve customers thanks to technology. And consumers expect more now, whether it’s actually buying the product, needing service if they have questions or making a claim and receiving quick feedback.

There’s 30 million small business owners in the United States and $300 billion in commercial insurance, so there is a significant opportunity for those that figure out how to help new or existing business owners find what they need.”

How should insurtechs focus on differentiating themselves from existing insurance options?

“Service is always a key differentiator. If you can provide a customer with confidence in the buying process and do it quickly that’s great. But I think coverage is where the insurance industry has a lot of opportunity. It’s hard to find the right expert with the right product at the right time. So it can’t just be about speed; coverage is about quality. Price is always going to be a factor, but people value the advice insurance agents have to offer, so when they can get it in an efficient manner, price becomes less of an issue.”

Switching gears and talking about talent acquisition, as COO & President of Insurance at Bold Penguin how are you searching for great people to work with?

“We’ve had to get creative. We’ve tried to be more flexible with work-from-home arrangements, for example, which we’ve had from the beginning. Talent is everywhere, so it doesn’t have to be located in Columbus, Ohio. There’s opportunity in operations, sales, marketing, technology both within Bold Penguin and throughout the industry. We’re always looking to expand our diversity and trying to open up people to a new career in the insurance industry.”

I really enjoy your passion for insurance. What perception of the industry do you strive to share with those on the fence about working in this space?

“The insurance industry is about people taking care of each other. We play a vital role in serving people, improving their lives and businesses, and affording individuals an opportunity to grow.

The insurance industry serves a great purpose to small business owners and customers. It’s a tough time right now. I’ve seen several shocks to the economy, 9/11 or the financial crisis for example. Insurance is always going to play a major role in how we respond and build our community back up.”



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