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Online insurance broker PolicyGenius raises $15M

PolicyGenius has over half a million customers, and is growing 20% month-to-month

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
January 14, 2016
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/42a5

The insurance tech space is growing quickly. Insurance tech companies have raised $2.12 billion since 2010 with startups in this category raising three times as much in just the first nine months of 2015, over all of 2014, according to CB Insights. 

One of the rising stars in this space is online insurance broker PolicyGenius, which consumers for its 360-degree Insurance Checkup, which guides users through a five-minute Q&A to develop a personalized, in-depth review of all their insurance needs based on their financial and family situations.

Founded in 2014, the Brooklyn, New York-based company allows its clients to have access to tailored advice through the company’s insurance quoting platform. It provides personalized quotes, which are powered by the company’s rules-based engine for underwriting and needs mapping, as well as side-by-side comparison of insurance policies from dozens of the country’s top insurance providers.

On Thursday, the company announced that it had raised a Series B round of funding, led by Revolution Ventures, along with previous Karlin Ventures, Susa Ventures, AXA Strategic Ventures, Transamerica Ventures and MassMutual Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company.

PolicyGenius has previously raised a $750,000 seed round and a $5.3 million Series A in June. This latest round brings its total funding to over $21 million.

I had a brief talk with Jennifer Fitzgerald, CEO and Co-founder of PolicyGenius, about her company, how it helps people get the most out of their insurance and how she would like to disrupt the insurance space in the next decade.

VatorNews: What is the problem that PolicyGenius is trying to solve? How does it solve it?

Jennifer Fitzgerald: The way people shop for insurance, sitting down at the kitchen table with an individual agent and going through your personal and financial details, hasn’t changed for a long time. It’s burdensome even as other parts of our lives – from shopping for clothes to getting a cab, has gotten easier and become a primarily online or mobile experience done when you want and where you want.

At PolicyGenius we’re making the process of learning about and obtaining insurance easier. We’re also making the process more enjoyable so customers are engaged in their finances and as a result are more knowledgeable about their needs.

VN: Who is the typical customer for PolicyGenius ? Walk me through how they would use it.

JF: Our user base ranges from Millennials to Baby Boomers, and we’ve sold policies in all 50 states so I’d say that we’re reaching some of the 70 million of underinsured Americans we set out to reach when we launched in July, 2014.

We typically recommend that customers spend five minutes with our Insurance Checkup to receive a tailored 360-degree look at their financial and insurance needs so they know exactly what products they need. Once they know where their protection holes are, they can use PolicyGenius’ life, long-term disability, renters or pet shopping engines to see a side-by-side comparison of recommended policies from the nation’s most trusted insurers to make an informed purchase decision.

VN: How many customers do you currently have?

JF: We’ve garnered quote requests from more than half a million customers across all 50 states and have been experiencing a 20 percent increase in unique visitors month-over-month.

VN: Why is what PolicyGenius does valuable to its customers? How do customers benefit?

JF: We’re making shopping for insurance easier for consumers by bringing the whole process online where they already handle most of their finances; we’re educating consumers so they know where their financial gaps are and what insurance protection they need, instead of what someone is trying to sell them.

Also, we’re adding transparency with side-by-side quotes which means they know exactly what they’re paying for when they get a policy.

VN: What will you do with the money you've now raised? How many employees does the currently have and how many do you plan to add?

JF: We'll use the resources from our Series B funding to grow our team to keep up with our customer volume and move into a larger office space in Manhattan. We’re currently around 20 employees and we’re looking to double our team by this time next year with new hires in all departments.

We’ll also continue improvements to our site based on customer feedback, roll out new insurance products on the platform and make tech and operational investments in the site to ensure we’re delivering the best customer experience in the industry.

VN: What separates PolicyGenius from other similar companies? What do you do that they can’t or won’t?

JG: Our company makes it easy for customers to comparison shop for life, pet, renters and long-term disability on their own terms and provides apples-to-apples quotes on an easy-to-use platform, so customers know what they are buying and don’t have to waste time going from agent to agent looking for the best deal. We want customers to have transparent and unbiased information so they can make the best decision for their individual needs.

The most unique aspect of our platform and process is our Insurance Checkup: we provide a holistic view of your insurance needs based on your family and financial situation, so you know exactly where your gaps are at the very start of your shopping process.

VN: Where would you like to see philosophy in the next five or ten years? How would you like to change the insurance space?

JF: You can fill out your taxes with a step-by-step program like TurboTax, and you can handle all of your bank finances from applying for a credit card to opening a savings account from their website, but there isn’t anything like that for insurance. There’s a huge opportunity to reach new customers because where they’re handling the rest of their finances – online – is underserved by the insurance industry. We’re going to bring it into the 21st century.

VN: Is there anything else I should know about PolicyGenius?

JF: We’re very excited about what’s on the horizon for insurance tech and some of the recent changes in the industry. While the VC funding to insurance tech tripled in 2015, there’s still a lot of room for growth.

While employers used to rely on their employers for insurance, the sharing economy workforce and freelance workforce are already changing the way employees find and shop for insurance. The number of workers at small and medium-sized companies who get employer-sponsored health insurance has steadily declined since 2000. Pair that with the aging workforce of the insurance industry, where the average age of an insurance agent in the U.S. is 59, and one-fourth of the industry’s workforce is expected to retire by 2018, the industry is ready for a big change.

What makes PolicyGenius different is that we’re bringing the entire decision-making and shopping process online and making it easier for the customer to find the right policy for their needs. We go beyond what today's aggregators and online agents offer by providing the best customer experience possible, with engaging educational material, decision support tools, and unbiased advice in a fully transparent manner every step of the way.

As I see it, the industry and the insurance customer are in the prime position to embrace a massive change - into a more efficient, more educated and simply better process.


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