JEN­NIFER FITZGER­ALD FOUNDER AND CEO, POL­I­CYGE­NIUS COM­PANY FOUNDED: 2014

Digital Insurance - - NEWS -

Q: Can you talk about the idea for Pol­i­cyGenuis and some of the goals you have for the com­pany?

Pol­i­cyGe­nius is an on­line in­sur­ance bro­ker­age that makes it eas­ier to com­pare in­sur­ance quotes, and then ap­ply and buy poli­cies. I was an as­so­ci­ate prin­ci­pal at McKin­sey for five years and worked ex­clu­sively in con­sumer fi­nan­cial ser­vices, mostly in­sur­ance, which is where I met my co-founder. We saw a lot of op­por­tu­nity to do some­thing dig­i­tal and con­sumer-fo­cused in in­sur­ance. Dis­tri­bu­tion was a con­sis­tent theme across all the com­pa­nies we worked with. They strug­gled to rec­on­cile a tra­di­tional, agent-based sales force with an in­creas­ingly dig­i­tal con­sumer land­scape. There was a chance to re­think the model from the per­spec­tive of the con­sumer — af­ter all, most of life is dig­i­tal to­day, from shop­ping on Ama­zon to bank­ing.

Q: What’s at­trac­tive about the in­sur­ance

busi­ness for a tech en­tre­pre­neur?

Though peo­ple didn't see it a few years ago, this is ab­so­lutely a huge mar­ket. The other thing that at­tracts us is there is a lot of value locked up in in­ef­fi­ciency and big chal­leng­ing prob­lems, from dis­tri­bu­tion and un­der­writ­ing to legacy prod­ucts, that rep­re­sents op­por­tu­nity if you know how to tackle it.

Q: What ad­vice would you give women who want to en­ter the in­surtech sec­tor?

The first ad­vice I'd give to them is to make sure you re­ally want to do it. It's the most chal­leng­ing thing you'll ever do in your busi­ness ca­reer, be­cause ev­ery day brings a new prob­lem that you have prob­a­bly never seen be­fore.

KATE STILLWELL

FOUNDER AND CEO, JUMP­START COM­PANY FOUNDED: 2015

Q: Can you talk about the idea and the goals be­hind Jump­start?

As the first com­pany to of­fer para­met­ric earth­quake cov­er­age, Jump­start pays cus­tomers based on the shak­ing in­ten­sity of an earth­quake in their area, as re­ported by the United States Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey (USGS). Our goal is to get 50 times more money into the sys­tem than the sta­tus quo, cre­at­ing an up­ward spi­ral of re­cov­ery rather than the down­ward eco­nomic spi­ral that of­ten fol­lows nat­u­ral dis­as­ters.

Over my 20 years as a struc­tural en­gi­neer de­sign­ing build­ings to stay safe in an earth­quake, I had come to re­al­ize that a ro­bust in­fra­struc­ture is cer­tainly nec­es­sary for a com­mu­nity to re­cover — but that alone isn't suf­fi­cient. De­spite cal­cu­la­tions that a mag­ni­tude 6.7 quake, or larger, will strike in the next 30 years, just one in nine Cal­i­for­ni­ans has earth­quake in­sur­ance. And the rea­son is that they are un­der­stand­ably dis­cour­aged by the high cost and com­pli­ca­tions of tra­di­tional earth­quake cov­er­age.

Q: What’s at­trac­tive about the in­sur­ance busi­ness for a tech en­tre­pre­neur?

We're at the cusp of a re­nais­sance. There's loads of im­plicit knowl­edge and in­for­ma­tional asym­me­try that's just ask­ing for greater trans­parency. The para­met­ric ap­proach in par­tic­u­lar is a cor­ner­stone of the in­surtech revo­lu­tion, along with un­bundling and on-de­mand cov­er­age. Even more ex­cit­ing to me is the op­por­tu­nity to crack a mar­ket, such as that for Cal­i­for­nia earth­quake in­sur­ance, which un­til now has been an un­solv­able puz­zle. We're out to dis­cover the se­cret to ex­plod­ing this un­tapped de­mand.

Q: What ad­vice would you give women who want to en­ter the in­surtech sec­tor?

There are plenty of women in in­sur­ance, just not a lot in lead­er­ship. Be­cause I'm a struc­tural en­gi­neer — where it's about 80% men — by trade, I'm not a stranger to a male-dom­i­nated pro­fes­sion, but by com­par­i­son the tech scene has been a to­tal shock. I'll leave it at that with­out adding any more to the re­cent chat­ter on this topic. My ad­vice is that no mat­ter if you're an em­ployee in an in­sur­ance or­ga­ni­za­tion or you're ven­tur­ing out to start your own busi­ness, you need to build coali­tions with each other. Use your net­work of like-minded, strong, em­pow­ered busi­ness­women to band to­gether. Yes, en­ter the fight, but on your own terms, us­ing fem­i­nine strengths like con­vic­tion, in­tu­ition and re­lent­less ex­e­cu­tion.

Q: What keeps you in­spired by and cu­ri­ous about the in­surtech space and this era of in­sur­ance in­dus­try in­no­va­tion?

I feel re­ally priv­i­leged to be part of the re-imag­i­na­tion that's hap­pen­ing in this cen­turies-old in­dus­try. The ubiq­uity of data is cre­at­ing in­for­ma­tional par­ity that lev­els the play­ing field be­tween con­sumers and risk-bear­ers — which, in turn, lu­bri­cates the mar­ket, like eBay did for spe­cialty items like an­tiques. Ul­ti­mately, this is good for con­sumers be­cause it leads to both lower prices and hy­per-cus­tomiza­tion of prod­uct avail­abil­ity. But it's also good for in­sur­ers be­cause it can dra­mat­i­cally grow de­mand. Also, I'm to­tally in­spired to cre­ate a startup that has a moral mis­sion. In­sur­ance is an hon­or­able pro­fes­sion, af­ter all: It ex­ists to de­ploy money to peo­ple when they most need it. It feels good to be mak­ing sure we can make good on that.

“Use your net­work of like-minded, em­pow­ered busi­ness­women to band to­gether. En­ter the fight on your own terms, us­ing fem­i­nine strengths like con­vic­tion, in­tu­ition and re­lent­less ex­e­cu­tion.” “I feel re­ally priv­i­leged to be part of the re-imag­i­na­tion that’s hap­pen­ing in this cen­turiesold in­dus­try. The ubiq­uity of data is cre­at­ing in­for­ma­tional par­ity that lev­els the play­ing field be­tween con­sumers and risk-bear­ers.”

jen­nifer fitzger­ald

kate stillwell

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.