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4 Firms That Understand Millennials

It’s no secret that millennials don’t care much for insurance companies. In fact, recent Bain & Co. research found that 80% of millennials say they would move their insurance business to new entrants that are capable of creating and delivering more value than incumbent insurers, leaving incumbents especially vulnerable to insurtech startups. But when it comes to millennials, what exactly is value, and how do insurance companies make good on it?

Over the last year, Cake & Arrow has been conducting research with millennials to help the industry better understand this elusive demographic, and in doing so to answer precisely this question. In our research, we found that when it comes to insurance, creating and delivering value for millennials goes far beyond price and convenience–the two areas where insurance companies have been especially focused as they invest in their digital transformation efforts. 2016 research (also by Bain & Co.) suggests that value exists in a hierarchy, and falls into four distinct categories: functional, emotional, life-changing and social impact. Price and convenience both fall into the functional category, the lowest level of the hierarchy, meaning that, while they are important (and, according to the hierarchy, prerequisite for delivering higher-level value), they fail to deliver the highest-impact value–emotional, life-changing and social impact.

When we studied millennials, one of our research hypotheses was that to deliver value at the highest levels means resonating with millennial values, that is, the important and lasting beliefs that influence their behaviors, attitudes and priorities. Our research identified three key values driving millennials: Community & Authentic Connect, Interdependency & Social Good, Transparency & Autonomy. Through a sequence of ideation, design and user testing, we were able to validate that insurance products that resonate with these values ultimately deliver more value (and higher-level value) to millennials than traditional insurance products, fundamentally changing the way they think about insurance.

See also: Overcoming Concerns by Millennials  

Looking at the industry at large, we found that there are a handful of insurance companies, mostly startups, that are taking these values to heart and designing solutions that not only address millennial needs and concerns but also resonate with their values to deliver value at the highest levels.

1. Eusoh

Eusoh actually isn’t insurance at all. It’s community-based cost sharing, offering an alternative to insurance. A small, little-known startup, Eusoh has built a cost-sharing platform for pet-related veterinary expenses. Unlike traditional insurance, Eusoh customers don’t pay monthly premiums. Instead, they pay a $10-a-month subscription fee to join a cost-sharing community group with like-minded pet owners (there are currently groups for Jewish Dog Lovers, Urban Dog Owners, Large Cats, LGBTQ+ Cat Lovers and more). Community members pay for their vet visits up front and submit veterinary expenses; these costs are then shared among the group, and members get reimbursed. Members are also able to see how their funds are being distributed among the group through a dashboard that displays all the different expenses submitted for different pets and how much money each member was reimbursed. Eusoh also promises significant savings to its members, with the average cost of traditional pet insurance being around $800 for 10 months and Eusoh averaging only $133.

What we like about Eusoh:

Traditional insurance isn’t all that different from Eusoh’s cost-sharing model. At the fundamental level, both are about distributing expenses and risks among a group of people to lower costs for everyone. The big difference is that, in traditional insurance, customers pay their monthly premiums, and, if they themselves don’t have a claim, they have no idea where their money goes. What we like about the Eusoh model is the way it surfaces the community aspect of insurance so that customers can see how their contributions are going to help others. In our research with millennials, we learned that being able to see and understand how the money they were paying to their insurance company was being used to help other members of their community made insurance feel more valuable to millennials, and more worth the money. By charging a subscription fee, and then only billing members for the actual costs incurred by the community, Eusoh is able to resist a problem that has long plagued the industry–customers feeling like their insurance companies are just trying to rip them off.

2. Life by Spot

Life by Spot offers flexible, short-term life insurance with one- to 30-day policies starting at as low as $7 a day. The insurance is geared toward travelers, athletes and other risk-takers. Life By Spot applicants are instantly approved, and there are few exclusions (Spot is like your cool older brother who “approves of the activities your mom wouldn’t”). While short-term life insurance might seem gimmicky at first, the founders see orienting life insurance around experiences (like skydiving or a surf trip to Brazil) rather than more traditional major life events (i.e., marriage and children) as a means of introducing millennials (who are increasingly prone to delaying traditional life events) to life insurance earlier on in their journey, creating a funnel for bigger life insurance policies down the road. Life by Spot also has plans to deepen its ties to outdoor and athletic communities with a new injury protection policy starting at $5 a day that would cover policy holders with high-deductible insurance plans who are injured up to the amount when their health insurance kicks in. Set to officially launch later this summer, the new product has already proved promising. The company recently soft-launched the product with the Austin Marathon with impressive results, offering the policy as an add-on to runners when registering for the marathon. While supplemental coverage like this is nothing new, the distribution approach is fresh and highly relevant to its target consumer.

What we like about Life by Spot:

Our research showed that people are more open to sharing costs and risks (as well as data and other information) when it is with a community of people they identify with. While Spot may seem niche, this is precisely what we like about it. We like that Spot takes a traditional product and spins it for a specific community, one with unique values, risks and behaviors. The spin on life insurance is more than just a marketing message (millennials can see right through this, according to our research); there is a change at the product level that corresponds with the values, risks and behaviors of this particular community, creating a sense of authenticity and trust in an industry where these things are increasingly difficult to come by. By making policy holders feel like they are involved in protecting a like-minded community and the kind of lifestyle this community values, Spot is able to create more value for millennial consumers, beyond what traditional insurers currently offer.

3. Toggle Insurance

Toggle is a new, millennial-focused insurance brand launched by Farmers Insurance late last year. Currently a renters insurance product, with adds-on like credit building and coverage for pets and side hustles, Toggle has plans to expand its insurance offering to create an entire ecosystem of modern insurance products geared toward millennials. The name Toggle refers to the customer’s ability to “toggle” different coverages on and off, and coverage levels up and down, to create completely customizable insurance that befits the individual customer’s budget, lifestyle and coverage needs.

What we like about Toggle:

One of the mistakes we see players in the insurance industry make is to assume that simply having a digital product is enough to capture millennial consumers. For these players, innovation often ends here – at direct-to-consumer digital products that, while making buying insurance simpler and easier, fail to deliver value at the highest levels. What we like about Toggle is that they understand that a digital product is simply a foundation. To deliver value to millennials requires going beyond digital. In fact, our research found that in the age of Facebook, data breaches and digital burnout, millennials are increasingly wary of new digital products, and autonomy and transparency are more important than ever to securing their loyalty and trust. Toggle takes both autonomy and transparency to the next level. Rather than simply packaging various coverages at different price points for customers to choose from, Toggle provides consumers with true autonomy, allowing them to select exactly which coverages they want to include (and those they don’t), and giving them control over precisely how much coverage they want. As far as transparency goes, the product goes above and beyond to ensure that customers are never caught off guard by any “gotcha moments.” Rather than burying limits and exclusions in the fine print, Toggle calls them out from the get-go and allows customers to “toggle” on more coverage where it might be needed.

See also: The Great Millennial Shift  

4. Jetty

Jetty is just one of a handful of new renters insurance startups geared toward millennials. Founded in 2015, Jetty has set out to not only make renters insurance easier, faster and more affordable, but to make the overall experience of renting simpler, safer and more accessible for everyone. What makes Jetty unique from other startups in the renters space is the way the company is going beyond insurance to solve the most pressing problems for renters. In addition to a renters insurance product, the company also offers Jetty Deposit, a way for renters to bypass the financial burden of coming up with a security deposit by paying a one-time percentage fee of the would-be deposit amount, and Jetty Lease Guarantee, a service by which Jetty will act as a renter’s guarantor, for a small percentage of the yearly rent. In May, the company launched Student Housing Express, which enables student housing properties to “instantly approve qualifying students who aren’t able to get a traditional guarantor.” While Jetty may not be the cheapest renters insurance on the market (most policies start around $9-10 a month compared with Lemonade’s $5), the company’s service offerings beyond insurance demonstrate an understanding of the more holistic experience of being a renter, building loyalty with renters before they even start thinking about insurance.

What we like about Jetty:

Jetty first caught our attention a little over a year ago when we learned about Jetty Deposit and Jetty Lease Guarantee. To us, these products appeared to be novel solutions to the significant financial hurdles facing millennials (about 70% of whom are renters) and unlike anything other players in the industry were doing. At the time, a lot of the millennial-related insurance products we saw on the market seemed to ignore the financial realities of millennials, many of whom are burdened with student debt, have little money saved (millennials under 35 have a median savings of just $1,500 ) and haven’t had opportunities to build credit. While many of these insurance products were catering to elite millennials with disposable income, when we surveyed millennials last summer, we found that the two greatest challenges they face are financial security and stability and uncertainty in the future. While insurance products can certainly help create more certainty, Jetty’s supplementary products truly address the challenge of financial security and stability in a way that few other insurance products are able to do, freeing up capital that might otherwise be spent on a security deposit to help millennials do things like build up their savings, pay down debt or save for a major life purchase.

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While all of these products boast seamless digital experiences that make buying insurance faster, easier and more convenient, what makes these four companies special isn’t fancy technology, low prices or convenience, but the way they connect with higher-order millennial values to offer tangible solutions to real-life problems, ultimately cutting through the digital din to deliver more value to millennial consumers.

To learn more about the insights from our millennial research, download our report, Millennials & Modern Insurance.

The article was originally published here.

Who Will Win: Startups or Carriers?

Who will win: carriers or startups? It’s a question that has dominated conference panels, opinion pieces and many of the conversations I’ve had with insurance industry friends and colleagues throughout 2018. On the surface, this question feels appropriate. For many consumer-facing insurtech startups, their valuation is rooted in the promise of capturing market share from large carriers. While this has led to a major boom in the number of direct-to-consumer (DTC) insurtechs, in reality, 2018 hasn’t yielded any new startups that are able to make a significant dent in the collective portfolios of the large insurers (Lemonade aside). As many carriers are awaiting the fruits of their multiyear organizational transformation programs, the lack of inroads may prompt a sigh of relief. If the trends we have seen this year continue, perhaps there will be enough time for the product innovation to spring from within the old guard, keeping the industry pecking order intact.

Not so fast.

Reframing the Debate

Before breathing their sigh of relief, carriers might start asking themselves another question: If not carriers, then whom? As far as innovation goes, we continue to see resistance across the large carriers to properly invest in a “test and learn” approach for their internal product development teams. At the end of the day, standing up a new product that would generate only $10 million in additional annual premiums just doesn’t get the runway it would for a startup. Instead, we’re seeing the rise of venture groups, innovation labs and incubators (Metlife Techstars, NYLV, SOMPO Digital Labs, etc.) that are to innovate, then potentially bringing the work in-house.

Adrian Jones, who leads investment and reinsurance terms to insurtech startups for SCOR, recently wrote about changing market conditions for reinsurers and their increased exposure to getting “disrupted.” Jones outlines how simpler and leaner startups have eaten away at the markets with the highest profit margins for reinsurers. This has the potential to become one of the most significant factors affecting the consumer space in 2019. Given their new financial exposure, reinsurers will be highly motivated (in a way that carriers currently are not) to adapt and discover new ways to increase their returns. This very well could be the fuel needed to truly ignite the customer experience (CX) advancements the industry has been promising. For a reinsurer, $10 million in annual premium from a startup is not only $10 million. It’s a path to diversify their risk portfolio and, more importantly, to develop an acquisition channel that can yield much higher margins than the current carrier model.

See also: Insurtech: Revolution, Evolution or Hype?

In the larger conversation, reinsurers are generally seen as key observers in the carrier vs. insurtech showdown, not major players. But given their advanced underwriting capabilities, global footprints, lack of direct customer acquisition workforce and substantially less technical debt compared with their carrier siblings, with the right set of partners reinsurers can provide the scale and expertise the new players typically lack. This enables startups to focus on their differentiators: seamless customer experiences and innovative acquisition strategies.

You may or may not be surprised to learn that this trend isn’t new. Many insurtech “darlings” are already taking advantage of this partnership model. Jetty is backed by Munich Re, Root Insurance by Odyssey Re and Ladder Life by Hannover Re. Noteworthy is what these startups can offer consumers outside of the coverage itself. Jetty offers financial resiliency for renters. Root has an IoT-powered auto insurance underwriting model based on mobile data. Ladder Life has significantly trimmed their underwriting questions for term life. Yes, there may be flaws in each value-add example, but that is beside the point. These startups are able to experiment with modified underwriting parameters, and, once they fine tune these products for the masses, the major carriers will pay heavily either by losing market share or by acquiring the startups.

In a recent conversation with an executive from one of the largest P&C insurance companies, the executive told me that he sees reinsurers like Munich Re as very strategic partners, yet an ever-growing risk because, in his words, Munich Re could “start cutting us out.” The threat is real.

What Should Carriers Do?

For starters, carriers need to identify how to enable a top-notch customer experience (CX). In 2018, there has been plenty of talk about improving customer journeys, but few incumbents have released anything remarkable. The time is now for mid-sized insurers and MGAs. There is no reason not to take a cue from the reinsurer playbook. Whether it’s backing an insurtech, creating a direct-to-consumer channel (like our friends at ProSight) or forming platform integration partnerships (as AP Intego is doing), there are opportunities to jump into the fray because the space is perfectly fragmented. Identifying a similarly positioned insurtech is a promising strategy for carriers with a wealth of data in niche markets. But working with an insurtech or building a DTC offering requires underwriting customization and collaboration. If that’s not something a carrier excels at, determining how to leverage existing technology or marketing capabilities is critical. For those with a technology strength, parametric insurance, such as Jumpstart and Floodmapp, may be a better fit. It’s an emerging market I especially have an affinity for.

See also: How to Partner With Insurtechs  

Regardless, it’s important that carriers develop a set of hypotheses on what will make them successful in whatever their new venture may be. At Cake & Arrow, we heavily rely on design thinking and qualitative research as a low-cost approach to validate strategies. Overall, being nimble, cross-functional and exceptionally tactical will be critical to success, which is why I consider large-scale organizational transformations not applicable here.

If all else fails, get the pocketbooks ready, because we will see no shortage of bidding wars in the coming year.

This article originally ran at Cake & Arrow

Future of Insurance Looks Very Different

A few years ago, the satire site, Cracked, launched a series of fake commercials called “Honest Ads” satirizing various industries. One of their fake commercials was an “honest ad” for a fake insurance company selling car insurance. The commercial features a familiar-looking, aging insurance agent in a suit (and a cape, cuz insurance sales people are also superheroes) explaining in a friendly voice what you really get when you buy car insurance. According to this guy, you’ll pay a lot of money every month for a product that:

  • you probably don’t actually want, but will buy anyway, because you have to -– or else you’ll be a criminal;
  • doesn’t offer you any actual protection (even though you could use protection), just a small portion of the money that you pay into it back, but only if something bad happens;
  • you may actually never use, even though you pay a lot of money for it;
  • if you need it, you’ll have to fight your insurance company to be able to use it, even though, again, you pay a lot of money for it; and
  • if you are able to use it, you’ll be punished, by either being charged a lot more money or being kicked off of your policy

Sign me up … ?

The effect is a poignant commentary on why people hate insurance and insurance companies and why, even as insurance products may be improving, at the end of the day no one really wants to buy insurance. That’s why we think that the insurance company of the future won’t be an insurance company at all (or at least not just an insurance company). Sure, people will still need insurance, and someone is going to sell it to them, but to win in the future,you’ll need to give them more than just insurance, or something else entirely.

With this in mind, here are a few ways insurance companies and startups can move beyond insurance to start offering true value to their customers and repair a relationship that has been tarnished by too many years of arcane business practices:

1. Protect your customer.

As the Cracked commercial made clear, a lot of insurance companies message themselves as protectors of the home, the family, the car etc., but most do little to protect their customers beyond offering them money when things go wrong – property is still damaged, cars are still stolen, loved ones are still lost. But what if instead of just compensation, insurance companies gave their customers actual protection?

The smart home security company Ring, recently acquired by Amazon, was founded with a mission to make people’s homes and neighborhoods safer. In a talk at last year’s InsureTech Connect, Ring CEO Jamie Siminoff explained that “our KPI is around how much crime we reduce, not how much revenue we produce.” Imagine an insurance company that tracked its success in this way. Because Ring invested and tracked against a KPI not just around revenue, but around customer safety, it has been able to prove that homes where Ring is installed are safer homes, which also make for safer neighborhoods — a fact that has resulted in more revenue and more business opportunities for Ring. Not only was it acquired by Amazon this past spring, but long before that it was able to form partnerships with insurance companies like American Family, which provides customers a discount on a Ring doorbell and a 5% discount on their homeowners or renters insurance.

See also: Smart Home = Smart Insurer!  

Like Ring, insurance companies should be thinking more about how to protect their customer and less about how to protect themselves from their customer. People don’t generally want to crash their cars, flood their basements, have their homes broken into. Helping customers better protect themselves from the risks that require insurance delivers value to the customer and to the company, and ultimately provides a way for insurance companies to develop trust with their customers.

2. Entertain your customer.

When Amazon first made waves as an online bookstore, few would have predicted that Amazon would one day become a major movie studio and video streaming platform. Amazon’s foray into the movie business, announced in 2010, was never about making money in box office sales or online streaming (although Amazon does both). It was about getting more people to sign up for Prime subscriptions and spend more time and money shopping on the site. And Amazon understood that investing in quality entertainment that could be included in a Prime membership was a promising approach.

Not that insurance companies need to become entertainment or media companies, too, but investing in high-quality content that people want (and like) to consume can also be a means of selling insurance. The U.K. insurance comparison website, Compare the Market understood that, while people may not like insurance, they definitely like meerkats. Hopping on the meerkat meme bandwagon, the company launched the website comparethemeerkat.com (a play on market, if you didn’t catch that), where consumers can go online and compare sets of meerkats in the way they might compare auto insurance policies or a credit cards. Beyond comparing meerkats on the website, you can also watch short videos (which are also commercials) about the lives of your favorite meerkat characters, like Sergei, head of IT, who joins the circus to escape the stress of his job at comparethemeerkat.com.

Although meerkats may have nothing to do with markets, they definitely make the idea of comparing insurance policies and credit cards a lot more fun. And whether I’m in the market for insurance, I’m always in the market for another meerkat meme … and when it comes time to look for new insurance, I know where I’ll go looking.

3. Educate your customer.

Fiverr is a freelancer marketplace that provides a platform for freelancers to sell their services, connecting entrepreneurs and workers with the companies and individuals who want to hire them. Just last month, it launched Fiverr Elevate, a platform where Fiverr freelancers can go to take online courses to help them better run their businesses. As Fiverr Freelancers, they earn credits that they can put toward courses.

Educating freelancers and small business owners is not what Fiverr is all about, but education is something that benefits customers and would-be customers and allows the company to build a relationship that’s based on value-added, not necessity. Like entertainment, education is sticky and builds trust with customers outside of the core products and services sold, which in insurance is important, considering that the primary interaction a person has outside of binding or renewing a policy is filing a claim in a moment of crisis, after something bad has happened.

4. Solve problems for your customer.

While researching and observing workers in the gig economy for an insurance prototype we designed, we heard more than once from gig workers that they probably won’t buy additional insurance, even when exposed to additional risk through their work that their existing policies do not cover.. For example, one Uber driver we spoke with used to work at an insurance company and knew that if she got in an accident while driving for Uber she wouldn’t be covered. Yet because Uber didn’t make her buy additional coverage, she decided not to (a lot of people buy insurance because they have to, not because they want to). Another Uber driver we spoke with described the insurance our prototype was offering as “third tier,” meaning that it would be coverage if his personal insurance and Uber didn’t cover him. Like the other driver, he didn’t think he would buy this kind of insurance. He’d rather take the risk.

Offering more than just insurance is particularly pertinent for insurance that isn’t mandatory. Insurance needs to solve other problems for customers that aren’t being solved elsewhere. Our gig economy prototype, for example, allowed gig workers to connect all of their apps to our platform, and provided them with a dashboard that would allow them to track all their gig work in one place, analyzing hours and peak earning times, and offering insights that would allow gig workers to optimize their schedules and their earnings. While at the end of the day our prototype was selling insurance, the users we talked to ultimately wanted to buy it not because it was insurance, but because it was more than insurance – and it was solving an important problem they were experiencing as gig workers.

Jetty, the renters insurance startup, is doing something similar. Beyond selling renters insurance, it is also helping solve a critical problem for millennials living in cities. Jetty Passport helps people get into apartments more easily by paying security deposits and acting as guarantors. For a fraction of the price of the security deposit and for an additional 5-10% of the rent, customers don’t have to worry about either. For those using Jetty Passport, Jetty renters insurance, starting at $5 a month, is a no-brainer.

See also: Startups Take a Seat at the Table  

5. Follow your customer.

While it may be true that most people don’t like buying insurance, there are a lot of other things these same people do like buying. Airplane tickets, clothing and apparel, stuff for their house. Finding out what else your customers are doing and buying (and where), and selling them insurance through these channels can help insurance companies align themselves with companies their customers actually do like and trust, while also lowering the cost of customer acquisition so you can offer more competitive pricing.

In March, AIG Travel announced that it is partnering with Expedia to sell travel insurance on Expedia sites, including Expedia.com, CheapTickets, Orbitz, and Travelocity, giving Expedia customers booking flights, hotels and other travel arrangements the option to insure their bookings for a small fee. AIG also announced a partnership with United Airlines to do the same earlier in the year.

Slice insurance, the homeshare insurance startup, has done something similar, partnering with AirBnB to sell hosts on-demand insurance when renting out their homes.

These types of partnerships are a win-win for customers, insurance companies and the platform partners. Platforms get to expand their offering to their customer; insurance companies get to build a direct relationship with customers through a channel they like and trust’ and they get access to more customer data to better understand purchasing behaviors outside of insurance. Customers get easy access to insurance coverage that will benefit them without having to go out of their way to make an additional transaction.

It’s no secret that insurance companies have an image problem, one that has been created over more than a century of legacy business practices that make transforming, innovating and developing more customer-centric products easier said than done. But as insurance companies do the heavy lifting to make their businesses more agile and responsive to the market, finding ways to go beyond insurance –through education, entertainment, creative problem solving and thoughtful partnerships– will help them build more trusting relationships with customers and not only maintain current customers but expand into new markets.

You can find the article originally published here on Cake & Arrow.

Predictions From 6 Insurtech Leaders

Insurtech, a hotbed of deal and growth activity over the last two years, is gaining traction and credibility. The leaders of top insurtech startups in the U.S. — focused on renters insurance, auto insurance, life insurance, small business insurance, mortgage lender insurance and on-demand insurance — share their thoughts about 2017 and predictions for 2018.

Participants (alphabetical order by company)

  • Fabric, cofounder and CEO Adam Erlebacher
  • Jetty, cofounder and CEO Mike Rudoy, cofounder and President Luke Cohler
  • Metromile, CEO Dan Preston
  • Next Insurance, CEO Guy Goldstein
  • Slice, CEO Tim Attia
  • Spruce, cofounder and CEO Patrick Burns

Q. What will be different about insurtech in 2018, compared with 2017?

Theme 2017: opportunity

“The unveiling year,” Slice CEO Tim Attia

“A grace period,” Next CEO Guy Goldstein

“An explosion of investment into insurtech across existing and new insurance lines,” Metromile CEO Dan Preston

“Lessons learned from being live in market,” Jetty cofounder and President Luke Cohler.

Theme 2018: maturation

Fabric cofounder and CEO Adam Erlebacher, “Where startups begin to gain traction and work toward meaningful scale”

Jetty cofounder and CEO Mike Rudoy, “A year of maturation where consumers’ trust in insurtechs deepens, cementing marketplace standing”

Next CEO Guy Goldstein, “Mistakes will have far bigger implications”

Slice CEO Tim Attia, “2018 will be all about proving that we can scale and build real businesses”

Metromile CEO Dan Preston, “Emerging winners will likely announce second or third rounds of capital”

Q. What was your company’s greatest 2017 achievement, and what is your greatest 2018 goal?

Fabric cofounder and CEO Adam Erlebacher, “Fabric launched in 43 states in one year”

Jetty cofounder and President Luke Cohler, “In 2017, our greatest achievement was validating our thesis and finding product market fit with renters and property managers. Our largest goal for 2018 is simple: expansion”

Metromile CEO Dan Preston, “Metromile’s biggest achievement in 2017 was the launch of AVA, our entirely automated claims process that uses AI to validate and automate claims. In 2018, we are excited to expand AVA to nearly all claims we handle”

Next CEO Guy Goldstein, “In 2017, we established our company foundation and core pillars, sold 10,000-plus policies and cracked the code on SMB insurance. Our goal for 2018 is to expand reach and accelerate our growth”

Slice CEO Tim Attia, “Our 2017 achievements included a Series A funding and Progressive partnership, but the largest was our homeshare product launch in nearly all 50 states. In 2018, we’ll expand our existing product, launch other on-demand products, go global and release our cloud-based offering”

Spruce cofounder and CEO Patrick Burns, “In one year, we went from serving homeowners and mortgage lenders in one state to 48 states. Our biggest goal for 2018 is to serve more customers, leveraging scale to drive down costs”

See also: Insurtech in 2018: Beyond Blockchain  

Q. What was your company’s greatest challenge in 2017; what do you anticipate as its greatest challenge in 2018?

Theme: 2017 challenges, validation

Slice CEO Tim Attia, “When re-imagining insurance, you truly have to re-imagine it. You have to forget everything you know and are used to and recreate the experience”

Jetty cofounder and CEO Mike Rudoy, “In 2017, we had to validate and fine tune our model and customer experience”

Metromile CEO Dan Preston, “Our big shift from MGA (agency) to full insurance company. It required the entire company (and more) to get it done.”

Theme: 2018 challenges, scale

Jetty cofounder and President Luke Cohler, “The challenges we face in 2018 will be associated with scale. New volumes of customers will require improving technical infrastructure, customer support functions and product experience”

Metromile CEO Dan Preston, “The biggest challenge will be managing growth while launching in new markets (as every market is very different!)”

Next CEO Guy Goldstein, “In 2018, our major challenge will be growing our offering from 20 classes of business to hundreds, while still maintaining excellent customer service”

Slice CEO Tim Attia, “2018 will be about scaling the company and executing, in ways that fit with what customers want”

Spruce cofounder & CEO Patrick Burns, “In 2018, we anticipate our biggest challenge will be hiring the highest-quality engineers and sales people as we continue to scale”

Q. What was a surprise to you in 2017?

Theme: Positive surprise at the intensity of consumer and partner buy-in to new insurtech options

Jetty cofounder and CEO Mike Rudoy, “We were genuinely surprised at the rapidity and size of buy-in from all types of consumers eager for better solutions and experiences that fit their lifestyle. This isn’t unique to Jetty but across the insurtech landscape”

Metromile CEO Dan Preston, “A big surprise came from the 2017 InsureTech Connect conference in Las Vegas, which had more than 4,000 people, orders of magnitude bigger than the entire world of people who knew what ‘insurtech’ was when we started Metromile in 2011”

Next CEO Guy Goldstein, “We were very surprised to learn that companies were underwriting business insurance policies manually, based on individual underwriter experience. SMB insurance is a $100 billion industry, and not using data to evaluate risk was bewildering”

Slice CEO Tim Attia, “We were surprised that our customers enjoy interacting with us regularly and being able to tie coverage directly to a successful and safe stay”

Spruce cofounder and CEO Patrick Burns, “We’ve been pleasantly surprised with the receptiveness of mortgage lenders to working with a new company”

Q. How will incumbents interact with insurtech companies in 2018?

Theme: shift to action

Metromile CEO Dan Preston, “I would expect the number of partnerships to grow significantly”

Slice CEO Tim Attia, “I think incumbents have no choice but to embrace insurtech companies”

Jetty CEO Mike Rudoy, “As insurtech players continue to capture market share, incumbents will be forced to identify response strategies”

Next CEO Guy Goldstein, “The incumbents understand that change is coming and is required”

Spruce cofounder and CEO Patrick Burns, “The industry is in the beginning stages of a multi-year shakeup as end-to-end digital sales and servicing become the norm”

Theme: expectation of beneficial partnering

Metromile CEO Dan Preston, “Competition fostering strong collaboration. Especially when expertise and assets are concentrated in different ways: incumbents with scale and capital, startups with new products, technical expertise and lack of legacy systems/thinking”

Fabric cofounder and CEO Adam Erlebacher, “Many [incumbents] are engaging directly with startups. On a basic level, most carriers lack the digital infrastructure needed to execute a direct digital strategy”

Next CEO Guy Goldstein, “Generally, [incumbents] seem very open and keen to work with new insurtech companies. Acquisition strategies are probably their best bet to integrate new technology”

Slice CEO Tim Attia, “Insurtechs are faster and more nimble than the incumbents; [who] should be excited to engage and leverage new offerings”

Q. What do you admire about other insurtechs?

Jetty cofounder and CEO Mike Rudoy, “Munich Re is hardly a startup, but their willingness to partner and help quickly grow great insurtech companies is impressive”

Slice CEO Tim Attia, “I admire how well insurtech companies complement one another. We have a similar goal: to enrich the customer experience and engagement”

See also: 2018: A Look Back, Then Forward!

Q. What’s the one book you read in 2017 that you can’t stop thinking about or recommending?

Jetty cofounder and President, Luke Cohler: “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” by Cal Newport. “A great guide that explains how we can regain our ability to focus without distraction on cognitively demanding tasks, despite the common distractions of our work environment”

Metromile CEO Dan Preston: “The Wright Brothers” by David McCullough

Next CEO Guy Goldstein: “Red Notice” by Bill Browder. “About a builder of an investment business in Russia. It left me feeling impressed and inspired by his drive to push through and find solutions to any challenges facing him”

Slice CEO Tim Attia: “Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics” by Richard H. Thaler, who cowrote “Nudge” and won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2017

Spruce cofounder and CEO Patrick Burns: “The True Believer” by Eric Hoffer. “It was written in the 1950s, but it’s immensely relevant today. Every startup CEO (and every politician) should read it”

Is Insurance Broken? (Part 1)

Long on fear, short on facts, so-called disrupters are using “insurance is broken” as a marketing tool to win customers. In Jetty’s view, insurance isn’t broken, but it has been painfully slow to evolve and is now in desperate need of some modernization.

Insurtech is heating up, with more being written about this corner of the insurance industry than ever before. At Jetty, we’ve been busy combining a novel combination of products to help streamline the home rental process and, along the way, participating in a lot of conversations all across the spectrum about how the insurance industry is evolving. As we headed to InsureTech Connect, we saw this as a good time to kick off “Signal to Noise,” a recurring series of thought pieces about the various aspects of insurtech — the things that matter to all of us to some extent or another (or ought to), whether it’s the technical workings of insurance, the individual products, distribution challenges and opportunities, or the increasing awareness and focus on the customer experience.

Starting now and continuing through the end of 2017, my colleagues and I will go into far more detail in each of those distinct areas of Insurtech. To kick off this series, let’s take a high level look at how the signal-to-noise ratio is obfuscating our sense of the industry’s real challenges, by unpacking Insurtech’s most clickbait-worthy claim: insurance is broken.

An introduction

The single biggest element missing from personal lines insurance is a real understanding of one rather important, but often forgotten figure in the equation — the customer. Specifically, how the customer’s needs should inform product development, distribution strategies, and the customer experience.

Here in Part 1, we’ll explore the “insurance is broken” narrative, where it is misleading and, conversely, where it highlights genuine shortcomings. And in future articles we’ll go deep into each area.

The fundamental, technical aspects of insurance

Broken-o-meter-score: Low

At its core, insurance is sharing or “mutualization” of risk — a concept that has been practiced for thousands of years in different formats, but with the same fundamental principle: the distribution of the risk of loss, and ensuring mutual aid. For as much noise as is out there, the reality is that this “risk transfer” element is one of the strongest and healthiest aspects of the industry. And as much as some Insurtech’s claim to be reinventing the model, the reality is that this principle continues to serve as the basis of our industry.

Another oft-criticized technical aspect is the policy “form”. The technical and court-tested contract language, while neither pretty nor readily-comprehensible to laymen, functions as it should. Let’s not forget that an insurance policy is a legal contract, and the legal system demands specificity.

The problem lies not in the existence of the jargon itself, but rather in the failure to translate that jargon into plain English, on customers’ terms.

At Jetty, we’re working to not just translate the technobabble into more easily digestible information but to make it relevant, maybe even enjoyable, and definitely more approachable. Easy when the bar is low!

See also: Innovation: ‘Where Do We Start?’  

The insurance product

Broken-o-meter-score: Medium

Clever wording and great design aside, on the product front, being approachable just isn’t enough. The coverage offering — the scope and context of the protection which the insurance product should provide — is outdated.

Consumer behaviors and expectations have changed. What are consumers most concerned about?

Not a Zenith Console Hi-Fi —an iPhone.
Not a mink coat —a Prada handbag.
Not your father’s Oldsmobile — actually, not even a car at all.
Not how do I protect the stuff in my rental home — how do I even get into a rental home.

That last one — getting into a rental home — is one of the biggest pain points for the modern urban consumer, and is why we created Jetty’s Passport Deposit and Passport Lease products as part of an all-encompassing solution to update and streamline the entire home rental process.

The products aren’t broken, but the industry is only now spending energy considering how they can be updated to address the emerging and changing needs of modern consumers.

At Jetty, our products are a lot of things: updated, enhanced, combined, all in the pursuit of an all-encompassing solution to address the entirety of the home rental problem set. But they weren’t created anew. Because the underlying insurance products aren’t broken.

The distribution model

Broken-o-meter-score: High

In many ways, the U.S. is one of the world’s most innovative and technologically-advanced markets, where customer service and convenience are the hallmarks of our retail model. In contrast with almost every other consumer vertical, insurance is one American industry which lags far behind (ironically, this is not the case in some other parts of the world).

At this point, many Insurtechs and pundits will throw agents under the bus in their interest to suggest the model is “broken.” It’s certainly not the most efficient and convenient model, but agents do provide a valuable and important service for the segments of the market that need real advice for complex situations.

And just because those pundits think the advisory process is cumbersome, it doesn’t mean that they should (or will) be able to get away with shirking their duty to advise.

The modern American consumer has grown up with different expectations — she is digitally-native and prone to prefer self-service. This widening gap creates both a great opportunity and one of the more interesting challenges — namely, how to provide intelligent, relevant advice through a more efficient technology-driven platform, accessible to the consumer wherever she may be.

The customer experience

Broken-o-meter-score: Very High

Insurance is a consumer good, but somehow, our industry never participated in the transformation experienced by the rest of the financial services market. This myopic perspective has only been amplified over the years as the changing expectations around ease of use and self-service have increased across the board.

While everyone is racing to throw chat bots, AI, and IoT at the problem, the consumer’s fundamental expectation is this: a simple and straightforward process that leaves him or her feeling happy and relieved at the end. Most consumers view insurance as a necessary evil — how refreshing would it be if they can instead experience insurance as a problem-solver and an enabler.

Providing a great consumer experience is more than tools and process (and far more than buzzwords) — it’s the entire look-and-feel, the voice, the lingo — everything that is tied up in the “brand.”

See also: Top 10 Changes Driven by Insurtech  

At Jetty, we probably invested just as much time and sweat equity into our FAQ as we did in creating a clear and compelling consumer experience. And it is paying off handsomely, as informed customers consistently make solid decisions about how to use the Jetty products to help get into and protect their things in the place they rent.

Tying it all together

Insurance isn’t broken, but it certainly needs a refresh, free from false promises and criticisms that simply increase confusion.
At Jetty, we’re combining an ability to speak to our customers in a way that resonates, with novel and thoughtful analytics that allow us to tailor coverage specifically to their lives. We’re adding real innovation by offering new and novel coverages that address emergent pain points like Bed Bugs and Lease Guaranty, alongside traditional products. We engage with our customers in ways that are simple and natural with how they obtain and process information, and navigate life’s obstacles.

That’s our focus — presenting an entire solution specific to the modern consumer, with an innovative process and product combination that is easy, relevant, and instills confidence for renters and landlords alike.

The challenge for our industry is to finally approach insurance as a consumer good, bring a “big-M” approach to marketing and deliver on a truly refreshing and stress-relieving experience.

And this is a great week to keep this thought top of mind: What are you doing to deliver novel solutions to improve customer experience and address customer needs?