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A Site That Opens Up The Black Box Of Insurance Shopping

Young people don’t plan for the future like they used to. Policy Genius is a site for a new demographic of insurance buyers.

A Site That Opens Up The Black Box Of Insurance Shopping
[Image: Abstract via Shutterstock]

Looking for life insurance? You’ll have a bear of a time trying to comparison shop. PolicyGenius, a service launching this week, offers easy ways to do this without even needing to talk to anyone.

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Co-founders Jen Fitzgerald and Francois de Lame are ex-McKinsey consultants who once worked with big insurance and financial services companies. “We saw the same problem repeating itself over and over. [The companies] had no idea how to keep pace with changing consumer demographics. Most people don’t have insurance agents anymore. Eight in ten households have never had a relationship with an agent,” says Fitzgerald.

PolicyGenius is like a digital agent with no skin in the game for any individual company. Though not every insurance provider is listed, it offers full transparency on the options it does have and takes a commission if people buy a policy through the site.

“We cut through the crap to let people know what they actually need to be able to do and not just what they’ve been told they need to do,” says Justin Ternullo, chief design officer at PolicyGenius.

At launch, the site is offering personalized, immediate insurance quotes, as well as detailed data on how coverage in any given plan works. It’s launching first with pet insurance, life insurance, and renter’s insurance, but plans to soon move into long-term disability as well.

To come up with quotes, PolicyGenius asks detailed information on a user’s risk thresholds, financial situation, and existing policies. The site evaluates his or her financial and insurance safety nets (I don’t have life insurance at the moment, so my insurance safety net needs some work, according to the site), and then it gives the quotes.

“By and large, insurance companies are happy about it. One of the areas of pushback we had anticipated–being comparison shopped side by side, opening the black box of insurance policy–we thought they were going to object to that,” says Fitzgerald.

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Once the PolicyGenius team was able to point out that users tended to pick the plan that looked best to them, not necessarily the lowest priced option, insurance companies were satisfied. Plus, says Fitzgerald, this is a way for them to reach younger consumers at a time when life insurance sales are at their lowest levels in 50 years. “We’re not cannibalizing anything in the market. We’re reaching customers who hadn’t been reached in the first place. There are face-to-face insurance advisors for people who still like that relationship.”

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.

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