“We’re always looking for ways to continue to innovate,” said Mike Izakov (pictured), Ladder’s chief financial officer. “There’s a lot of work to do.”
The company and its 150-plus employees are on the rise. Ladder has raised $200 million to date, including a nearly $110 million round aimed at fueling product expansion and hiring. Ladder was founded in 2015 and released its first release two years later.
The recipe for the sauce
Ladder’s ability to provide flexible digital insurance in a short period of time comes from what Isakov said “takes all the steps and builds every piece.”
This includes creating the product itself, as well as a scripting engine that allows the company to use it in real time. Ladder also employs an ownership management system that is designed to give consumers the ability to manage their information. Flexible insurance means that customers can “ladder” or change as their needs change.
Isakov said that Ladder’s strategy is different because it operates in several ways, among others through its partners Fidelity Security Life Insurance Company, Allianz Life in North America and Allianz Life in New York. Ladder life product company is owned and built on passenger paper (Ladder life insurance company in California is different).
The company’s core platform is designed to be carrier agnostic, and uses layered APIs and partners.
“Our APIs allow our partners to embed every part of the customer journey in their home environment, whether it’s consumers finding out how much they want or shipping online and [then getting] give, [or] to be able to tie their process to the other end of the process, “said Isakov. “We have APIs that allow any of those things.”
Machine learning is a key feature, helping Ladder constantly optimize its content and improve its usage. Beyond that, however, Ladder’s writing engine is unique and important, Isakov said.
“We’re not taking shortcuts or doing simple things that can help multiple health classes, [and] we go from favoring consolidation to lower prices,” said Isakov. “One of the reasons we’re able to do this is … it took us two years from the day the company was founded to the day we launched. [a debut product]. We actually designed the script engine to work in real time. “
The scripting engine also supports third-party data integration that allows the company to verify customer information to deliver in real time, Isakov said.
Integration that includes the use of fintech, such as a mobile application for banking, or financial institutions such as SoFi, a financing company and an online bank that manages mortgages and other financial services.
The SoFi partnership began in 2018, and Isakov saw that he had a consumer finance platform to showcase his various products. SoFi partnered with Ladder and put it in its customer-facing platform.
“As an official member, if you log in … you can calculate your life insurance needs. You can see your ads or get money for help, and you can apply and buy life insurance right inside the program,” said Isakov.
When a customer approaches Ladder for a potential joint venture, the company first investigates the customer’s needs and whether they would benefit from learning about life insurance on the platform they want.
Assuming that is the case, the conversation searches for the best link for you to profit from.
Partnerships/integrations range from a partner simply promoting Ladder to customers, to a pure automation model where Ladder is fully integrated into the partner’s system.
Assuming that a partner wants deep integration, both the product and engineering teams are connected. Ladder offers possible options depending on the client’s platform and capabilities that Ladder has, and then Ladder creates a “time-integrated map”, said Isakov.
Next, attention turns to establishing a secure connection, so that data can flow back and forth, and the user experience. Product designers step in, working with customers to create the best possible customer journey, he said.
APIs are important here, which Isakov said “provide the pipeline in the back end” that helps create the customer journey in the front end. Both companies share API information, and Ladder provides a “sandbox environment” for testing and making tweaks.
From start to finish, the process can take anywhere from two weeks to two months, depending on the size of the client and their combined needs.
This type of contract is now in the “several hundred” said Isakov. He added that this investment/combination should grow “significantly” by the end of the year.
“Over the last few years, partnerships have become … our main channel of distribution,” Isakov said.