Dallas-based Integrity Marketing Group, an independent distributor of life and health insurance products, has acquired a leading source for healthcare consumer and market data to further enhance its value chain.
Deft Research, a Minneapolis, Minnesota-headquartered resource for timely health insurance consumer insights, will become an Integrity partner as part of the deal. The company’s co-founders, Randy Herman, Dan Freier, and Rich Hamer; executive vice president, George Dippel; and senior vice president, Tim Brousseau, are now managing partners in Integrity.
Deft Research employees will continue in their current positions, but will also receive company ownership through the Integrity Employee Ownership Plan.
Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Integrity bills itself as a leading insurance distributor that focuses on “meeting Americans wherever they are,” whether that be in-person, by phone, or online. That means technology lies at the heart of the business—in turn, making the healthcare experience more simplified and streamlined for its more than seven million annual clients.
Integrity develops products with its insurance carrier partners and then markets them through a distribution network of larger insurance agencies across the U.S. The team of some 5,500 employees and more than 345,000 independent agents have been on a journey to “innovate the health insurance industry” via a slew of strategic acquisitions. Deft Research is the latest.
“To truly innovate insurance, Integrity must ensure that customer voices are always heard and then constantly find better ways to serve them,” Bryan Adams, co-founder and CEO of Integrity Marketing Group, said in a news release. “No one in the industry understands consumer needs and preferences like Deft Research. We want to make buying, selling and marketing insurance easier for all stakeholders.”
According to Adams, the partnership between Deft Research and Integrity will bring about powerful synergies to help the insurance company better understand its customers.
Deft Research has for the past 15 years been developing a suite of market research services that offer insights into the senior and commercial healthcare market, along with overall industry trends. The firm was originally built on better understanding seniors transitioning to Medicare, but eventually pivoted into a way for health insurance stakeholders to create product offerings that set higher standards of care.
According to the team, it’s now the largest provider of syndicated market research in the healthcare industry. More than 120 health insurance carriers use its custom market research to improve products and the member experience.
By joining the Integrity family, Deft Research will be able to augment nearly every component of the health insurance lifecycle. Its insights are primarily used to better understand consumers and predict behavior—like what motivates purchase decisions and perceptions of coverage options—while also shaping strategies for carriers, distributors, and marketers.
Deft Research describes itself as the “why” behind member responses. Plan member experience studies give carriers a look into what drives plan ratings, change, and more.
“Deft Research provides health insurance stakeholders with actionable insights they use to enhance their business operations,” Herman, who’s also CEO of Deft Research, said. “As the industry has become more data-driven, we are unlocking immense opportunities to create value for carriers and agents by accessing Integrity’s platform and network of partners. Whenever a consumer is making a decision about insurance purchasing, we want to have a viewpoint about what’s driving that decision.”
Overall, Herman sees the Integrity partnership as an avenue for carriers to develop the right products for the right consumer. And, agents can now present products to consumers in ways that best highlight the benefits they value most.
Deft Research will gain access to Integrity’s proprietary data and resources, along with its centralized business functions like HR, accounting, IT, legal, and a marketing and advertising firm. According to Deft Research, this will allow it to add a ‘new dimension’ to its insights with the ability to delve into the agent-customer relationship.
On Integrity’s end, it will use the data and results Deft Research gathers to create relevant products for consumers that are designed to fit their individual needs.
“A partnership between Integrity and Deft Research is what innovation in action looks like,” Steve Young, chairman of the Board at Integrity, said. “The entire industry takes a step forward when we create efficiencies that give the consumer an improved insurance experience. We will see transformational changes to consumer relationships and the product development process from this powerful partnership.”
Integrity recently also formed partnerships with CSG Actuarial, ThomasARTS, Connexion Point and SeniorCare Benefits call centers, Access Capital, Brokers International, and Insurance Administrative Solutions’ third-party administrator.
These and the Deft Research acquisition form what Integrity calls a solid foundation for its change trajectory. This year, Integrity predicts that it will help insurance carriers place more than $7 billion in new premium.
“Integrity is bringing together experts across the industry to finally yield the full picture of how to best serve healthcare consumers,” Dippel said. “We are constantly innovating new product and service ideas and we see that same commitment to innovation in Integrity. The sky is the limit as to what we’ll accomplish together.”
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