Sureify was built in reaction to the life and annuity industry “losing touch with today’s buyers,” founder and CEO, Dustin Yoder, told FinTech Global.
As the son of a life agent, Dustin knew from a young age that life insurance is important to any sensible financial plan. He was surprised to realize, back in 2011, that most of his fellow millennials had not considered life insurance. Dustin realized the industry lost touch with today’s buyer, and he saw the opportunity to transform how carriers connect to consumers. To realize his vision, Dustin assembled a diverse team of passionate individuals. Some were insurance veterans, and others were insurance outsiders from tech and creative backgrounds eager to bring a fresh perspective to a legacy industry. After some trial and error, the team gave birth to Lifetime: the platform that’s transformed the way life and annuity companies around the world sell products, engage their customers, and provide policy servicing.
Insurance has been a little late to the technology party, compared to other parts of the financial ecosystem like payments and banking. Things are changing, and InsurTech is becoming a massive segment; a total of $3.7bn was invested in InsurTech during the first three quarters of 2019. However, there are still a lot of opportunities to be capitalized on.
Sureify’s first product was LifetimeEngage, a SaaS offering that fosters a digital relationship between carriers and their customers. This product offers web and mobile applications to its carriers’ customers, allowing them to interact and engage with the insurer in many different ways. This solution can be configured to offer personalised services, including wellness challenges, rewards programs, educational content, and interactive features like polls and quizzes. Carriers tend to use this product to run engagement initiatives with different focus areas: wellness, education, lifestyle, and community for example.
LIfetimeEngage was followed by LifetimeAcquire, an accelerated underwriting eApp that drives direct-to-consumer, call centre, and advisor sales. It offers configurable questions, flows, and UI elements in a simple and non-technical format so that life insurers can easily and continually drive sales across all channels.
LifetimeService, the third product comprising the Lifetime platform, allows policyholders to digitally self-service their policy, empowering them to securely manage payments, update personal information, change beneficiaries and more from the convenience of their devices without the hassle of cumbersome paper processes.
Lifetime is also the gateway into the wider ecosystem of new technologies applicable to the insurance industry. Dustin comments, “So many technology startups have valuable application in the life insurance industry. The problem is that carriers’ legacy IT systems are challenging to integrate into, and carriers need a lean way of experimenting with these new technologies. The ecosystem idea is a response to that. A big part of Lifetime’s value is that it connects insurers to the multitude of new technologies and gives them the opportunity to begin experimenting.”
When creating the software, it was all about getting a minimum viable product established in the real marketplace – the typical route for businesses trying to launch. The company was officially founded in 2012. The mission was always to modernize the life insurance industry, though some initial direct-to-consumer ideas were tried out before arriving at the B2B platform that Sureify sells today. In 2016, Sureify sold LifetimeEngage to its first client, Principal Financial Group.
When Sureify was in its infancy, Dustin was also working as the CEO and head of product for web and mobile application builder, Vendus Product Labs. Prior to that, he was the vice president of business development and strategic partnerships for PandaDoc, a document automation solution.
Sureify has grabbed the interest of a lot of players in the market, both insurance firms and investors. Among its clients are two of the top five multi-line US carriers and one of Japan’s largest carriers. Sureify has been called the “Salesforce of insurance engagement.” Being compared to the biggest CRM software and cloud computing companies shows the promise of the business In Yoder’s words “It’s quite the honorific.” However, it does put a lot of pressure on the startup to live up to the hype.
While Sureify is not as developed as Salesforce, Yoder does believe there is some truth in the comparison. “There are no other companies providing a life insurance specific solution the way we are. Some competing products in the market have narrowly focused on wellness engagement, which only resonates with a select consumer market. Others have tackled bits and pieces of the quote, application, and buying process; and virtually no one is taking on servicing. Our platform addresses all three key areas of business.”
He added, “Insofar as our platform is a malleable tool that can be wielded in diverse ways to drive engagement, I think it is accurate to call it the Salesforce of insurance engagement. However, Lifetime as a whole does much more than engagement, including omnichannel sales enablement and policyholder self-servicing, so I wouldn’t use the phrase as it overlooks important parts of our offering.”
The startup has not only received substantial interest from leading players in the insurance space, but also investors. Since its was founded in 2012, the company has raised $5m in funding. The company raised a $4.8m Series A in 2016 from Plug and Play, SixThirty, and Hannover Re (who is also a technology partner of Sureify’s). In fact, the InsurTech came across the funding round by chance. The company was looking to evolve the insurance marketplace and Hannover Re was looking to help their clients modernize themselves. “In short, the InsurTech revolution took place at the start of 2016 and Sureify aligned with some industry leaders like Hannover Re, Plug & Play Ventures, and SixThirty.”
The company’s most recent cash injection came earlier this year with secured a $2m debt financing round from TIMIA Capital. It raised the capital to support the expansion of the platform and hiring additional team members to foster its growth.
Sureify is in a good place to capitalize on the growing appetite in InsurTech. Since 2014, there has been a total of $13.5bn invested into the sector, of which $7.1bn has been deployed since 2018. The sector has been on a steady increase since 2016, in terms of both investment and deal volume. 2019 looks to be a record year, with 215 deals being completed in the first three quarters, just 22 less than last year. The level of capital invested has already broken 2018’s total of $3.4bn, reaching $3.7bn with another quarter still to go.
Dustin said, “I think the low-hanging fruit in insurance for technology companies is just becoming very conspicuous. It was always conspicuous for those who were looking, but insurance isn’t sexy in the way that other technology opportunities are. Now that there is higher visibility into how many opportunities there are for tech innovation in the insurance industry, a veritable gold-rush is taking place.”
As the year comes to an end, and with the fresh round of funding on the horizon, the company is set to continue its growth and keep to its goal.
Dustin concluded, “Sureify is focused on building the best platform for life and annuity carriers. This isn’t changing, which means we are only expanding product capabilities and overall platform maturity. We see so much to do around platform, data, and AI that our platform is really just getting started.”
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