The CEO of new online home and small business insurance provider Foxquilt said the company is aiming to be a $100m company within five years.
Mark Morissette said the firm intends to remain independent for the near future but straddling the insurance and technology worlds can be tricky.
“We can’t put blinders on, so if that means joining a larger capital round then we can look at that but we won’t be acquired just for the sake of it,” he said.
“Acquisition opportunities will come in the next couple of years and that’s a great challenge.”
As reported earlier in Thompson’s (Dec. 3 weekly edition), the Toronto-based technology-based company has introduced coverages in Ontario targeting social groups with similar needs to provide group insurance buying power. A licensed brokerage, Foxquilt is working with a number of insurers and managing general agencies including Aviva Canada, Economical Insurance, Chubb Canada, Gore Mutual Insurance, Premier Group of Companies, Trinity Underwriting and Burns & Wilcox Canada.
Foxquilt announced in October that it had received $1.2m in seed funding led by Toronto-based Extreme Venture Partners.
Mr. Morissette said its focus at this point is to be a best-in-class technology-based insurance distributor and help as many consumers as possible access group insurance.
“It’s a massive race to acquire and consolidate sophisticated teams and interesting innovative business models,” he said.
“We have been contacted by a lot of insurance companies and other financial technology companies and we are always open to innovative partnerships that make sense but we are now focused on building scale in Canada.”
He said it has taken more than two years since the founding of Foxquilt for it to be able to start writing business.
“I’m not cynical about insurance or regulation, but we want what is best for the customer and insurers want that, too,” Mr. Morissette said.
“But they are often beholden to bureaucracy and hierarchy.”
“These are big corporations and it takes a long time to move with a new participant.”
He said the onus is on innovators to be persistent and prove to insurers and regulators that their technology works. “The insurance technology company has to be the change agent,” Mr. Morissette said.
He said Foxquilt has been designed to tap into the new ways people identify with each other with social media and modern communication tools having largely replaced traditional social interactions.
The company’s website, www.foxquilt.com, invites visitors to link up for insurance through more than a hundred social groups including pet lovers, cooking enthusiasts, electricians, beer-league sports, photographers and start-ups. “The old adage of group insurance is really exclusive or finite to professionals or alumni,” Mr. Morissette said.
“But the world doesn’t operate like that anymore. Through social media, people’s identities change very quickly and subcultures and communities are where people get their social interaction.”
He said Foxquilt and its underwriting partners are trying to follow best practices used to achieve success in the online retail world.
“We connect to these communities and provide them with choice and lots of different carrier partners.
“But also with a richer experience using technology so they don’t have to be confused with insurance language — speaking to them in language they are used to in their local community.”
He said Foxquilt is trying to recognize and reward people for taking part in their particular community.
“We have hundreds of digital tabs so we can move the target customer — the pet lover or electrician — and get them quickly through automation so we can pre-underwrite them,” Mr. Morissette said.
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