Data drives insurance innovation for customer, agents, and partners

About Assurance IQ

Assurance IQ is a direct-to-consumer platform that transforms the buying experience for individuals seeking personalized health and financial wellness solutions.

Industries: Healthcare
Location: United States
Products: Looker

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Assurance IQ and Looker build a BI platform to analyze data and build value for their customers seeking healthcare.


  • Scales access to trustworthy data as the company grows—without needing to add an analyst headcount
  • Reduces the load on data science team by creating a safe space for business users to explore and do their own data discovery, allowing everyone to focus on what’s most important in their role
  • Sales managers keep numbers on track with visibility into agent performance and activity, increasing lifetime value, agent conversion rates, and sales performance
  • Increases marketing ROI by helping marketers access critical marketing data to identify and reduce spend on low-value activities
  • Develops new data-driven experiences for partners to further differentiate themselves in the insurance market and support a more personalized customer experience

When you hear the phrase “insurance industry,” the first descriptions that come to mind may not be innovative and cutting edge. The engineers and data scientists at Assurance IQ are on a mission to change that.

Since 2016, Assurance IQ has been protecting and improving the personal and financial health of millions of consumers by offering insurance solutions and access to third-party providers to help them meet their needs. While its industry may be traditional, Assurance IQ’s approach is anything but outdated. In fact, Prudential Financial saw the company’s potential and acquired Assurance IQ in 2019, adding this innovative direct-to-consumer channel to its portfolio to reach an underserved mass market. Using a combination of advanced data science and a human touch, Assurance IQ offers life, health, Medicare, and property and casualty insurance and mortgage products tailored to the needs of their consumers. With this innovative online platform, insurance customers can complete their purchase independently or with the assistance of a technology assisted live agent.

The small, agile data team that helped develop this innovative platform had the foresight to build a data culture that would be ahead of the industry. “We’re a tech company that happens to be focused on solving issues in this traditionally more antiquated space,” explains Callum Kift, Director of Engineering at Assurance IQ. Senior Data Scientist Mitchell Posluns goes into more detail. “We start by asking customers a few questions so our system can learn about their needs. From there, our groundbreaking proprietary platform takes over, analyzing data to offer solutions tailored to meet each consumer’s needs and budget. Our platform serves as the bridge that connects customer and agent, and that connects technology with the human touch. At Assurance IQ, we are innovative, persevering, collaborative, calculated, and authentic, and we're working together to improve the lives of millions.” Camilla Zhang, Director of Data Science believes, though, that it’s Assurance IQ’s data-driven decision-making that really sets the company apart.

“Looker allows us to bring conventional software engineering principles into data as a product and run datasets like software products.”

Mitchell Posluns, Senior Data Analyst, Assurance IQ

Evolving business intelligence from silos to a single source

In the early days, when the Assurance IQ data team was small yet scrappy, their biggest challenge was the scattered internal view of the business, resulting from disconnected reports in siloed tools. They were using Excel, SQL, and other in-house tools, but they didn’t have a true business intelligence (BI) platform. The data team wasn’t able to use their time efficiently this way, and no one in the company had the complete real-time view of the business to make decisions. Leadership lacked critical insight, and there were constant challenges around trust and consistency of the data.

“A lot of the data that we had was coming from some broad, unclean production systems,” Posluns says. “Callum stepped up as the data engineer to consolidate and create a data lake in which we could then build working dashboards.”

At the time, the data team included only two people. Nonetheless, it was important to them that each team member was looking at the same clean, accurate data. In addition to alignment, they also wanted to give employees the confidence and ownership to explore the data on their own. They were using a popular visualization tool to improve access to ad hoc analysis, but it lacked version control and standardization.

“Data is a double-edged sword,” says Zhang. “Giving everyone the ability or the opportunity to look into it is great. But if we're not looking at it in the way that we should be, without that single source of truth, we’re going to run into an issue where everyone comes to a different conclusion.”

“We have the ability to share and provide access to data and to let people derive their own insights without us having to scale on a human basis.”

Callum Kift, Director of Engineering, Assurance IQ

The natural choice to create trust, from the start

It was clear to the Assurance IQ data team that they needed a BI platform to promote trust in the data and provide self-service across the organization. It was also evident that creating a safe space for users to do their own data discovery would be key to the project's success as well as producing the greatest business impact. Additionally, the team wanted to be sure that their new tool would integrate and complement the existing infrastructure and tools that were already in place.

The now-growing data team tapped into their team members’ past experience and expertise to quickly identify a winner. Kift says, “It was a very natural decision to trust Looker from the get-go because we've had good experiences in the past.” Posluns adds, “Looker allows us to bring conventional software engineering principles into data as a product and run datasets like software products.”

Looker’s semantic modeling layer, LookML, provided the data governance they needed to scale self-service data access as the business grew rapidly. Looker’s version control also allowed the team to engineer critical data reporting quickly and accurately, saving them hours of repeated code writing so they could focus on higher-value projects.

Zhang shares, “We have a small data science team, but we can support hundreds of employees using Looker in every aspect of the business.”

This ability to scale access to insights without scaling on a human level gives the data team leverage to make a bigger business impact. “Data is addictive,” Kift notes. “We’ve given our business users a taste and they want more. We have the ability to share and provide access to data, and to let people derive their own insights without us having to scale on a human basis.”

Using data to continually transform the business

Assurance IQ is experiencing business benefits across the organization with Looker. The company’s data scientists and engineers are frequently finding new ways to use this platform to gain efficiency and create business value.

Creating a trusted “View from the Top”

Breaking data out of silos and making it accessible was only the beginning. The bigger challenge was to build something everyone could trust and easily put to use. Assurance IQ has met that challenge head-on with their View from the Top dashboard.

This dashboard accomplished two huge feats. It enables company-wide tracking of objective and key results (OKRs) to ensure everyone is rowing in the same direction, and it creates an executive “business pulse” to give senior leadership instant insight into performance as it unfolds.

Posluns explains, “Our Central Intelligence team collaborated with every level of the business to align on the right processes and metrics to track and display for our OKRs on the View from the Top dashboard. With Looker, we can be confident that the data is always fresh and up to date, and employees can schedule to receive these key metrics whenever they like, enabling them to incorporate data into their workflows.”

Executives also rely on the Executive Business Pulse dashboard, which gives them added visibility to see how their business unit is performing across a handful of key performance indicators, which are easily filtered to each leader’s needs. In addition, the data team uses the alerting functionality in Looker to set up notifications that will alert business leaders when something is not right. “Having that top-down view allows us to detect when things are not performing as forecast,” explains Posluns. “Executives can then collaborate with other teams who are using the same shared source of truth to do a deeper investigation.”

This visibility across the organization also gives Assurance IQ a competitive edge in a traditional industry. “Data is only useful if it's reliable and you trust it,” says Zhang. “Having that one go-to view, making sure it's reliable, and then holding ourselves accountable to our goals and making that visible, that’s what's really going to drive our business forward.”

However, the greatest impact hasn’t come from the dashboard. It has come from how employees have taken action on these insights. “We’ve structured dashboards and workflows so that they are actionable,” says Posluns. “And it naturally guides you to the places that you need to look at and the next steps you need to take.”

“The legacy companies in our space don't have the same visibility and agility that we have because of the tools that we set up through Looker.”

Mitchell Posluns, Senior Data Analyst, Assurance IQ

Single source of truth

With Looker providing a single source of truth for the business, everyone in the company is on the same page. They can collaborate and strategize together around the same trusted data. Kift says, “If we didn't have that unified source of truth, senior leaders could spend the first 30 minutes questioning the data. By taking advantage of Looker, they can spend their time efficiently on the most important things.”

Maintaining Looker as the single source of truth also improved efficiency for the data team because updates only need to happen once in the data model to be applied to future reports and queries. “Looker allows us to bring engineering principles to data products,” Kift continues. “It's that DRY principle of engineering: Don't repeat yourself. Which means that it's there and only there. If we need to fix or update something, we only have to do so in that one place.”

Better day-to-day operational execution

With a unified view of the business, Assurance IQ is seeing powerful business results. “The legacy companies in our space don't have the same visibility and agility that we have because of the tools that we set up through Looker,” says Posluns. “Better decision-making and operational execution during the day-to-day results in higher sales, stronger return on ad spend, higher improved values from our customers, and greater customer satisfaction.”

Making real-time marketing decisions

The Assurance IQ marketing team previously had limited insight into which marketing tactics and campaigns yielded the greatest return on investment. This often left them to make decisions based on opinions rather than data.

The data team at Assurance IQ set out to change this. Using Looker, they created a unified view of the entire marketing funnel, analyzing upstream and downstream data sources. Now the marketing team can confidently build their own reports to help power decision-making and increase the impact of their programs—without having to go through data gatekeepers.

Zhang explains how valuable having a fully data-driven marketing team is to the company. “We maintain a lot of partnerships and relationships with other vendors, with significant value on the line. Being able to deliver the data that the marketing team needs to maintain and grow those relationships helps their programs scale and the business grow. Looker has been huge for our marketing team and the ROI they bring to the entire business.”

An example of how Looker helps empower the team is TV ads. For example, if an ad runs when Assurance IQ doesn’t have the agent capacity to manage the calls, the company misses opportunities to connect with those potential customers. With Looker, the marketing team has the necessary data to efficiently place ads, ensuring they run when agents are available and increasing the likelihood that the ads will prove to be a positive investment.

Increasing sales agent efficiency

Previously, sales managers operated from Excel spreadsheets that data scientists sent them. When Posluns joined Assurance IQ, the data team had already made improvements in this process with Looker. Sales managers could subscribe to agents’ daily operational metrics, which were then delivered to their inbox. They could then filter those results based on the questions they were trying to answer.

Posluns saw an opportunity to further optimize this process to better support the varying levels of data comfort across sales managers, while empowering them to do even more on their own. “Early on, I helped create all the reporting and analytics infrastructure for the sales managers. “We started thinking about creating a nice ‘walled garden’ for people to experiment and learn in. Passive users can review reports that we’ve set up for self-scheduling and have everything they need to identify which agents are high performers or low performers to help them prioritize and focus. More technical users are even more comfortable exploring with Looker. And with a little bit of training from our data teams, they can be that satellite person helping to build and scale up some of that reporting and infrastructure for the other sales managers who are handling those agent operations.”

Today, all sales managers have access to the Looker dashboard, where they can access performance reports on their own and take action to directly message agents from the dashboard without engineering assistance. When a sales manager notices an agent has been inactive, for example, they can immediately get in touch with the agent directly and figure out what’s going on.

“The time savings is great, but it’s not the only business value that we get,” says Posluns. “When a higher-performing agent is online because a sales manager encouraged them to get online, that's incremental lifetime value. That’s been powerful for us, enabling our data team to have a much larger impact without actually having to scale.”

Kift quantifies the results further, saying, “If we didn’t have Looker, I think we'd have to quadruple the data science team to be able to answer ad hoc requests from our sales managers.”

“I think the ability to create these embedded data experiences and build them like a software product is how we're going to take that next step forward and lead the industry even further.”

Mitchell Posluns, Senior Data Analyst, Assurance IQ

Giving Assurance IQ partners a leg up

With Looker, the data team has spotted new opportunities to go beyond internal BI to increase the value they deliver to their external partners. “We have the ability and data expertise here, so we can do stuff with our data that other insurance companies can't do,” says Kift.

Posluns is excited about the possibilities. “We’ve built an industry-leading shopper communications platform. We have a marketplace, and we’ve been providing data ad hoc to our partners. And adding embedded analytics to create custom reports and insights for them will give us the opportunity to really differentiate ourselves in this industry. We’ll not only have best-in-class technology for business operations, but also best-in-class supporting analytics to help our partners understand how those operations work so they can then take action. I think the ability to create these embedded data experiences and build them like a software product is how we're going to take that next step forward and lead the industry even further.”

A clear vision for the future

Beyond the operational efficiencies and new paths for partner value, one of the greatest impacts of Looker has been creating a data culture. Kift explains, “Now our mindset is fully on data as a product. We don’t treat our internal products any differently than our external product. We actually believe in what we're putting out there, and we use it too.”

Zhang says, “Building the external instance of Looker for our partners gives us a clean slate to look back and ask, ‘How can we improve?’ We know we can learn from our experience, especially since we had to build things quickly while continuing to support the growing business, and now we have the opportunity to really think about what the most robust and scalable way is to move forward.”

Zhang, Kift, and Posluns have leaned on Looker’s content as they’ve worked with the platform, which has saved them a lot of time. “We learn from everything—from Looker case studies to webinars,” Kift shares. “This saves us time because we don’t have to start from scratch.” Posluns adds, “I recently learned from a customer story with GoCardless, explaining how they set up their core models and their redaction layer. I found it super useful to help me understand the concept.”

By harnessing these resources, Assurance IQ has tapped into the power and innovation of the Looker community—and this resourceful and imaginative team is poised for even greater success in the years to come.

Tell us your challenge. We're here to help.

Contact us

About Assurance IQ

Assurance IQ is a direct-to-consumer platform that transforms the buying experience for individuals seeking personalized health and financial wellness solutions.

Industries: Healthcare
Location: United States