A New Insurtech Has Sprouted
Nearly one year ago to the day, after a few introductory phone meetings in the peak of the pandemic, my co-founder Eric and I met in person for a walk in the woods behind my home to continue to validate an idea he had. What we walked out of the woods with was a transformational business.
A few things stood out to me in those early days of walk-and-talks.
We both spoke of our families and agreed how important it was to continuously ensure they are financially protected. But the process of obtaining insurance remains complicated and more often than not, under-serving the customer — something that Eric had experienced firsthand.
Out of Eric’s experience was born a novel insurance market solution (details to follow below). As we continued to validate the idea it dawned on me how we could refine the insurance business model so that it truly translated to “easy, affordable and inclusively accessible” for the customer.
We agreed that we would take a data-first approach to bring about novel insurance solutions built for the good of people and their families. This became the underpinning of our business model.
We also saw eye-to-eye on building a great company while helping our fellow humans when they need us. A values-based company, born in the Waterloo Region, Canada where “tech for good” is how we roll.
From walk-and-talks in the woods, a transformational insurance business sprouted.
It was time to dig into this new venture and our co-founder Matt joined the journey. A phenomenal partner, Matt is a well-versed and seasoned technology and product leader with a significant background in health data and the information security to protect it. As we continued to research and run the initial idea and product by our friends, families and associated industry colleagues, we received an influx of positive reinforcement.
You’ll see Eric’s post where he talks about the precipitation of the idea. In a nutshell, he left his prior company and its group life insurance policy, ended up needing minor surgery, signed his informed consent and while gowned up and waiting, searched online for the risk of dying during his surgery. As Eric was searching, he couldn’t find a quick, on-demand and affordable way to insure himself and ensure his family was taken care of should the unthinkable occur. He came out of the surgery perfectly fine, yet the risk and eerie feeling stuck with him.
The bond that Matt, Eric and I all shared from the beginning is the fact that we’ve all been impacted personally, by the risk during surgery. Fast forward a few months with lots of blood, sweat and tears — Five1Nine Inc., our innovation lab to build both this new product and future ones, is created. And shortly thereafter, Samos Insurance was born as our brand.
We developed a surgical risk model and built an insurance product to cover death during elective surgery to provide patients and their families with peace of mind.
The name “Samos” further reinforces that our solution is fundamentally based on data. What’s in a name you ask? For you history buffs, Samos is a Greek island in the east Aegean Sea, just off the coast of modern-day Turkey and the birthplace of the celebrated mathematician Pythagoras.
For patients heading into surgeries, we provide death benefit insurance to them as individuals, through their brokers and through their employer benefit plans. We offer an affordable, brief interval insurance product that provides peace of mind when Canadians need it most — so patients can turn their focus to positive outcomes and healing instead of worrying about “what if”. Our product is backed by global insurers with A.M. Best A+ and S&P A+ ratings and has been certified by a global leading actuarial firm. It is based on a proprietary underwriting model for surgical risks designed to cover gaps in traditional coverages today.
Notable Insurance Industry Facts
Let’s not forget that the global insurance industry is a behemoth with forecasted premiums to exceed USD 7 trillion this year.
And yet, here we are still, with 40% of the adult population in America being uninsured and underinsured when it comes to life insurance. This paints a picture that is still so wrong and we’re going to do our part to fix it by making sure there is a financially inclusive and simple solution on-demand when people need it.
First Of Its Kind
Everything from my prior endeavours in the Insurance sector was starting to culminate here.
I’ve always believed that Insurance, in its purest and original form, is a noble product; but the industry is still lagging in the adoption of easy and digital-first approaches. Don’t get me wrong, the industry has been trying but it’s also an industry of risk managers and regulations that, while serving and protecting the customer, make change a substantial challenge. Evolving the industry starts with insurtechs like us and what we are working on with our on-demand product: when you need it, at the time you and your family need it, at a price you can afford, and provided in the simplest way possible.
We eventually landed on this plan:
(1) Build the foundation of a sophisticated data model.
(2) Understand how to remove as many administrative barriers as possible to purchasing on-demand.
(3) Be considerate of, and support the healthcare system and the patients they are sworn to protect.
Our data model focus turned traditional insurance processes on its head, and we are able to disprove age-old underwriting rules in the best interest of customers.
It’s almost cliche to say but we were born digital first to embrace how we all live our lives everyday with seamless technology that provides convenience. Lots of insurtechs say it, many aspire to achieve it — yet we believe we’ve already done it in a focused and lightning-fast manner.
We built the first solution specifically to provide insurance protection for a patient against the risk of death with an elective surgery: simple and effective is the promise.
We met with many individuals and their families in this situation and the feedback was consistent and conclusive: this was a solution that is embraced and in demand.
Only The Beginning
Everyone deserves to feel protected and have peace of mind for themselves and their families. Surgery insurance was our way to help build inroads into protecting people and their families and make it simple and financially inclusive.
Beginning with this product, we can meet the needs of millions of people. We built the data risk model and we spent countless months developing and validating with world-leading experts. And why? To remove much of the traditional insurance buying friction. By not using the traditional question-to-customer method we let the data do the work which results in a mere 3 qualifying questions (yep, ‘three’), 100% no medical exam, with a simple and cost-effective purchase process — a total of 5 minutes to apply.
It doesn’t matter to us how a customer protects themselves and their family — whether through an advisor they trust, on their own, or through some hybrid in the middle, protecting the customer and their loved ones is our purpose.
We’re thankful to our team and our many partners and advisors from the healthcare community and insurance community.
We’ve only just begun — we are already disproving many traditional models and shocking the system. And I look forward to tracking and sharing our progress along the way. Thanks for your support.