BOLT’s SAIS Acquisition Affirms Technology’s Role in Commercial Insurance Distribution

Wholesalers and MGAs who provide agents with technology-based efficiencies will play an expanded role in commercial insurance distribution, analysts affirm.

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BOLT Solutions, a provider of software-as-a-service (SaaS) insurance distribution solutions has announced the acquisition of Superior Access Insurance Services (SAIS), an Austin, Texas-based online insurance aggregator that offers over 95 products from over 50 major insurers through a distribution channel of more than 2,100 agents. The deal shows how players who can provide technology-based efficiencies to agents will play a larger role in commercial insurance distribution, according to industry analysts.

“Independent agents need three main things – access to markets, ease of doing business, and help reaching and supporting customers,” comments Matthew Josefowicz, managing director of research and advisory firm Novarica. “Tech-savvy wholesalers and MGAs that can deliver these three things will play an increasing role in distribution going forward.”

BOLT’s acquisition of SAIS follows earlier channel-enlarging efforts based on a partnership model, comments Pat Speer, an analyst with AITE Group. In 2010 BOLT partnered with American Express’ OPEN small business division to produce a white-label product called InsuranceEdge, a SaaS solution designed to help small business owners to research, review, compare and purchase insurance. Earlier in 2013, BOLT partnered with Aon Affinity, broker Aon’s consumer, association and group program business unit, to provide the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) with commercial insurance products for its members.

Pat Speer, Aite Group.

Pat Speer, Aite Group.

“BOLT’s cloud-based, multi-carrier sales and client service is attempting to answer the ease-of-doing-business cry,” says Speer. “With the SAIS acquisition, BOLT’s platform will be available to another 2,100 agents, providing them with the opportunity to place the most appropriate business with the most appropriate insurer in a real-time, one-stop-shop environment.”

Speer notes that it is not confirmed whether BOLT and SAIS will retain or combine their respective existing business models – SAIS works on a tier-based membership/subscription model, BOLT on a SaaS model, she reports.

“With the support BOLT has enjoyed from its parent company ICG, which is known for serving large, under-penetrated markets with significant growth opportunities, the major brokers will be paying attention to this deal,” Speer remarks.

Anthony R. O’Donnell // Anthony O'Donnell is Executive Editor of Insurance Innovation Reporter. For nearly two decades, he has been an observer and commentator on the use of information technology in the insurance industry, following industry trends and writing about the use of IT across all sectors of the insurance industry. He can be reached at AnthODonnell@IIReporter.com or (503) 936-2803.

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