Digital disruption is turning the insurance world upside down
Meet the Canadians behind the digital upstart that's helping small businesses find the products they need.
Technology is changing how businesses around the world operate. Cutting-edge innovation is no longer confined to the type of industries found in science fiction novels, like biotechnology and artificial intelligence.
Traditional trades, like insurance, are now getting a much-needed boost and proving that there are new (and arguably better ways) to provide their services.
Who they are
Toronto-based startup Zensurance is one of the few emerging leaders in the insurance space disrupting how small- and medium-sized businesses find products they need. While insurance isn’t the first thing most think of when thinking about technological innovation, Sultan Mehrabi, Zensurance’s CTO, says his company’s work is changing the industry for the better.
“It’s about more than just selling insurance. What we’re doing is changing how people find the protection they need whenever they want,” he adds. “It’s about finally having Canadians be able to choose what they want.”
Danish Yusef, CEO of the Toronto-based startup, agrees. He’s excited about how Zensurance is turning the industry upside down and why (more importantly) the work they’re doing should matter to Canadians. “We’re excited to change how the insurance game works.”
Why it matters
The insurance startup’s impact in the industry is all too easy to see. Before Zensurance launched its services, commercial insurance — products sold to businesses and homes — was sold almost exclusively through specialized brokers that acted as the middleman between customers and insurance agencies.
They often prioritized in-person meetings over online communication and charged customers a fee to connect them with the insurance packages they needed the most. Zensurance does away with middleman charges by using its own AI-influenced technology that connects customers with their products.
“The insurance industry hasn’t changed much in the last 30 years. Most small business owners still have to fill out and fax 10-page forms, wait weeks and pay by cheque to get their insurance approved,” Yusef explains. “It’s outdated,” Mehrabi adds. “Business owners don’t have time to wait on hold to find out if they’re business is protected.”
Instead of relying on humans to coordinate insurance rates, the startup does something a bit different. Its own proprietary technology digitizes the experience and provides accurate quotes for businesses in mere seconds instead of the minutes it might take over the phone. Real-world data taken from interviews with insurance providers and brokers is also incorporated into the system so that it mimics a similar experience clients would encounter with a live agent.
How it works
The company’s digital-only process is easy to use. Startups and business owners can avoid the login hassle found on most websites and get a quote in minutes. Individuals merely type in their email address, answer a few questions about their product or business and are the emailed a quote with today’s biggest insurance providers. For those who still prefer an over the phone experience, agents are available 24-7 as well.
Zensurance’s easy-to-use process is just one way the company is lowering fees and also demystifying the insurance industry in the process. “When people learn more about the industry, they’re also able to make better decisions about prices and what products they need,” adds Mehrabi.
Since Zensurance is only available online (and not face-to-face) that means the company’s customers never have to worry about after-work hours or out of office messages when they need agent help..
“A lot of these insurance providers are only open during the day when these small businesses are at their busiest and don’t have the time to wait. The great thing is you can use our platform day or night, so you can do it when you have time,” explains Yusef.
For Mehrabi one an unexpected benefit is seeing how his company’s approach to insurance is actually shaping how their competitors tackle problems, which makes the industry better for everyone overall.
“We’re a technology company helping small business customers get the best insurance coverage. The [providers] we work with see what we’re doing and end up partnering with us and improving their systems, too.”