Q&A with Kari Niblack, CEO of Blackwell

Kari Niblack

Can you explain exactly what Blackwell Captive does and what problem it solves?
Blackwell was founded to provide medical stop-loss captives, single-source, turn-key employee healthcare solutions to self-insured businesses seeking innovative alternative risk management solutions for their employee healthcare programs. Simply put, spreading risk across a captive layer ensures premiums are more affordable, more transparent, and less volatile year-over-year.

How did the company get started?
The biggest driver of captive growth is the insurance market. Blackwell originated as a medical stop-loss captive because the year-over-year increase in medical stop-loss premiums is unsustainable for small to mid-sized companies. A 2020 study by Sun Life indicated that claims between $2 million to $3 million are growing more than 44%. Solutions for high-cost pharmaceutical claims, including gene therapies, will continue to be at the forefront for employers unable to shoulder these costs.
This explosion in captive growth is part of a seismic shift in the industry brought on by clients demanding greater transparency and looking to take greater control of their own health plan costs. Captives provide both affordability and flexibility, giving clients the control they seek.

Tell me about your team and approach?
Our team has more than eighty years of combined experience and a “nothing to lose” attitude. We fully understand the many complexities within the healthcare marketplace, and we enjoy expertly guiding business owners through the vast alternatives to fully insured medical programs.
Today’s customers expect a highly personalized experience – the essence of self-funding. We purposefully take a custom approach to our strategy and plan design for every client and prospect. When executed well, such experiences drive long-term client engagement and loyalty. This allows us to differentiate ourselves from other captives and gain a sustainable competitive advantage.

What trends are you seeing in this market / how is Blackwell differentiated?
Blackwell seeks to change the existing captive industry by giving clients more transparency than ever. Unlike other captive solutions, Blackwell gives our clients the potential to earn a return of up to fifty percent of their premium through their “Experience Rated Refund” beginning in the first year. There is not a multi-year wait or perplexing reconciliation process. To say we embrace our tagline, “Essential Stability. Desired Flexibility.” is an understatement!
Domiciled in South Carolina, we offer two distinct treaty dates, and allow a Letter of Credit for collateral. This empowers our clients to be an active participant in their plan performance and choose the exact combination of cost-containment solutions that best meets their individual needs.

What are some of the specific challenges you have faced and how have you successfully addressed them?
As any new company, pipeline acceleration is a key focus for us. The self-funding space has grown more than twenty percent in recent years, so it is no longer sufficient to find one prospect at a company. There are multiple, diverse stakeholders at play with any employee benefits package. Successively handling challenges and positioning multiple alternatives alleviates concerns and closes deals. By diving deep to differentiate Blackwell at a granular level, we have highlighted our unique value proposition of “essential stability, desired flexibility” for our clients.

In what areas of the business did you feel you could use help or counsel?
Being the newcomer to the ever-growing captive marketplace was challenging, and the Carrick team was instrumental in assisting us with simplifying and tightening our story. Very often, an outsider can be helpful to challenge your thinking and to help you identify and resolve creative differences between members of your team. It quickly resonated with us that getting to the punchline faster is more powerful and one big idea is easier to remember at point of sale.

What are the benefits of working with a group like Carrick Capital Partners?
Carrick Capital Partners conducts business with the highest integrity. They use their diverse experience and expertise to guide strategy, perfect infrastructure and set the tempo, which has equipped us to execute rapid growth.
Carrick’s collaborative executive team has helped us be dynamic and personable at every point in the sales and service process. They are masters of technology, which has empowered us to grow exponentially without the need for significant overhead. We have enjoyed the purchasing power of a much larger enterprise by virtue of our collaboration with Carrick.

What is your advice for other growing businesses considering private equity?
For us, it is all about synergy and values. We appreciate the Carrick team helping us by leveraging their network and offering much more value than just formation and acquisition management. Their team of seasoned professionals provided the right kind of insight and asked the right questions to improve processes, systems and top-line growth based upon market demands.
Look for a PE firm that excels at listening and positively challenges you. Despite their daily demands, the Carrick team consistently demonstrates that we are a priority for them. Growth then becomes “our way” and is that much more rewarding as the business flourishes. Everyone has a seat at the Blackwell table, and we benefit richly from that unique approach.

What is next for Blackwell Captive, and what are your long-term goals?
Blackwell uses a customized captive structure to provide self-funded solutions for employers as a reliable alternative to the established markets for healthcare. Our long-term vision is to be a turn-key solution as a medical stop loss captive, and to build our Blackwell platform to prioritize data transparency and decision enablement. The objective is to create solutions that make healthcare cost effective not just in the short term for our clients but sustainably, year-over-year.

About Carrick Capital Partners
Who We Are
A firm of enterprise software, SaaS, and technology enabled services investors and operating executives with substantial experience founding, scaling, and optimizing market leading businesses.
Our Approach
We work with management to identify and improve critical areas of their business - focusing on the priorities that align with our experiences and that will deliver the highest strategic impact in both the short-term and long-run.
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Why We Are Different
We have a concentrated number of companies in our portfolio so that we can build substantial relationships with each management team and ensure our firm’s commitment to each company’s goals.
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