Electronic Chat with Steve Lekas, Branch Insurance
Laura Mazzuca Toops | August 25, 2020
Steve Lekas is cofounder and CEO of Branch Insurance, a Columbus, Ohio-based MGA startup that specializes in simple bundling of homeowners and auto insurance. Currently operating in five states, Branch recently announced the launch of its reciprocal insurance exchange and plans to expand nationally. Branch also operates SafetyNest, a philanthropic program designed to assist uninsured or underinsured people who have suffered a home or auto loss.
Please tell us a little about how and why Branch was launched.
Branch was founded on the belief that insurance should be and can be less expensive and that insurance should be and can be good. Early in our country's history, insurance companies were frequently groups of people banding together, pooling their resources and helping each other when the worst happened.
Over the past 250 years, the greatest innovations in personal insurance were by the brands we know so well today, and their fantastic innovations were almost always tied to lower costs for consumers, defining their privilege of growth. We'd witnessed the more recent migration of consumers from agency writers to direct, a business model innovation benefitting the prices consumers paid for insurance. It was obvious that there must someday be a tech-forward business model that innovated on the full insurance stack of product, price, business model, distribution model, and brand, in a way that could dramatically reduce price for consumers that aligned the consumer with the community, whose funds ultimately pay claims and that could close the loop on reducing the uninsured population in a way that benefitted the price of insurance for all of society. Our founders saw this vision and were compelled to make this better future real to the benefit of all of society.
What sort of financial backing did you use for the startup?
Branch has raised $27.5 million to date in funding. We'd built four product lines (home, renters, auto, umbrella), the technology to manage a full-stack insurer, and a phenomenal team of deeply expert believers for less than $5 million -- an unparalleled achievement.
What states are you currently operating in, and will the exchange allow you to open up in more areas?
Branch operates in Arizona, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio and Texas. We are in the midst of rolling out to the rest of the U.S.
What key technology tools do you rely on to do business?
Our business is fundamentally technology. When you first meet Branch, our mobile web or web flow greets you, asking you for name and address. Branch needs no other information from you to sell you both home and car insurance instantly. This is our most prized technological tool. There are many technologies beneath this surface, but because the industry is regulated by line of insurance, has skill sets varying by line of insurance, manages separate P&Ls by line of insurance, the incumbents maintain systems by line of insurance so that there is no platform that could enable people who own homes and own cars to bundle simply. Branch then had to build for this wonderfully high lifetime, digitally constrained market from scratch. We are an entirely serverless insurance company with incredibly flexible tech that enables us to experiment and iterate as a part of everyday life to the benefit of our members.
How will the new reciprocal insurance exchange arrangement work?
Branch is the facilitator of a membership where each member pools small resources to prevent the unfortunate few from falling off their life's trajectories as a result of a claim. Branch receives a fixed, 5% fee for facilitating this community. Branch can't take more or less than this fixed fee, regardless of how much is paid in claims or how many members are in the community.
Branch's responsibility is to make insurance as inexpensive as possible through delightfully efficient technology. If then there are leftover premiums after Branch's fee, expenses and claims, each member as an owner of the Exchange may receive a dividend as a grant, which members vest in over time, rewarding their loyalty in a way an insurance company never has rewarded its loyal policyholders. Branch's mission is to make insurance less expensive so more can be insured. The Branch Insurance reciprocal exchange is one of the many ways Branch executes on that mission to the benefit of all.
Will you still retain a relationship with current underwriter General Security National?
Yes! General Security National Insurance Company is a subsidiary of SCOR, an investor in Branch. Branch is glad to be a part of the SCOR family of companies. SCOR enabled Branch's launch as an MGA through its underwriting company, General Security National Insurance Company. Branch now enters the next phase of its growth as a full-stack insurer, eliminating the MGA cost from business stack, enabling less expensive insurance as Branch grows in capability and scale.
What do you hope to achieve over the next year?
We are achieving amazing member experiences. We will continue to launch exciting and innovative new features for our community over the next year, and will launch in many new states that give Branch greater scale, a benefit we can pass back to members as lower prices. We'll be announcing exciting new partnerships that amplify the value insurance provides to its users unique to Branch because of our technological differentiation. We hope to continue to have the privilege of rapid growth with strong insurance economics because we delight our members. We hope to make a positive impact on people's lives and on society by bringing more of the financially excluded and uninsured into the safety insurance affords through the combination of Branch and SafetyNest.
- Electronic Chat with Candice Smith, Founder and CEO, Caregiven
- Electronic Chat with Nestor Hugo Solari, Founder/CEO, Sigo
- The Giant Hole in Actuarial Models
- Electronic Chat with Trent Cooksley, COO and Co-Founder, Cowbell Cyber
- The ITA Pro March/April 2021 issue is here!
- Purchasing and Innovation: Friends or Enemies?
- COVID Drives More Reliance on Risk Management Systems, New Study Finds
- Electronic Chat with Robert Clark, CEO, Cloverleaf Analytics
- Solving Customer Communications Challenges with Hybrid Mail
- Six Trends Shaping Digital Insurance Tech Strategies in 2021
- Billing a Key Component of Customer Service, Celent Finds
- Why Data Science Fails
- Electronic Chat with Andrew Jernigan, CEO, and Allen Koski, President and Chief Innovation Officer, Insured Nomads
- Electronic Chat with Allison Martin, CEO and Founder, UDoTest
- Are Carriers Ready for the Coming Crash?
- Electronic Chat with Christopher Moore, Director for North American Sales Engineering and Solutions, Trifacta
- Next Insurance Partners with Amazon Business Prime to Provide Small Businesses with Affordable Digital Insurance Options
- An AI Walks Into an Electronics Store...
- InsurTech NY Announces Global Early-Stage Competition Winners
- World’s Worst County/Western Insurtech Song
- Electronic Chat with Anne-Laure Klein, COO, Akur8
- COVID-19 One Year Later: The Digital Transformation of Insurance
- Electronic Chat with Michael Kassing, CEO/CVO, insured.io
- BrokerTech Ventures Announces 2021 Cohort Class for Accelerator
- An Entirely Preventable Disaster
- Flipping the Fraud Triangle
- The January/February ITA Pro Magazine is here!
- Credit Risk, ESG, Cybersecurity Top Risk Concerns for Financial Institutions, Deloitte Finds
- Electronic Chat with Ellen Moser, Senior Client Executive, Origami Risk LLC
- The Answer to “So What?”
- Leaders Rise from a Year Like No Other!
- Electronic Chat with Jonathan Roomer, Co-Founder, YuLife
- Getting Creative to Hit COVID Curveballs Out of the Park
- Electronic Chat with Eugenio Gonzalez, Plug and Play
- New Report Projects Global Insurtech to Grow by $21 Billion During 2020-2024
- The 2020 Virtual Event Wasteland
- Insurtechs, Investors Optimistic About Post-COVID Future, New DIA/McKinsey Study Finds
- Finding Grandmas
- No Code / Low Code: The New “Shortest Route” In Insurance Delivery
- Are You Addicted to Copy-and-Paste?
- Electronic Chat with Nino Tarantino, CEO- Americas, Insurance and Mobility Solutions (IMS)
- Driving Life Insurance:Tech Alone Won’t Solve Business Problems
- Electronic Chat with Robin Roberson, Managing Director, North America, Claim Central Consolidated
- How Do You Make It Happen?
- Electronic Chat with Jason Liu, CEO, Zywave
- New Partnership Models Take Program Business to the Next Level
- New Study Finds Less than Half of Consumers Trust Insurers to Respond to Their Needs
- Electronic Chat with Andrew Mauritzen, CFO and Head of Insurance Industry, Exactuals
- You Want Us To Do WHAT For Free?
- Electronic Chat with Evgeny Aleksandrov, Co-founder and CEO, Pilotbird
- Electronic Chat with Chris Cheatham, CEO, RiskGenius
- New MIT Sloan Study Finds Few Companies Gain Big Benefits from AI
- The September/October ITA Pro magazine is here!
- “Being Right” is Just the Start of the Battle
- Electronic Chat with Amit Ranjan, Executive VP and CAO, Xceedance
- Planning for Your Business and Tech Future: Strategies, Plans and Budgets for Rapid Transformation
- Electronic Chat with Jimmy Padia, Founder and CEO, Floatbot
- Gelato with Dots and Sprinkles
- COVID-19 and the Insurtech “Junk Drawer”
- Even “Change” is Different Now. Your Strategic Planning Needs to Be Too.
- The Road Ahead for P&C Insurers: How to Understand Customers Better and Navigate the Post-COVID Insurance Market
- Electronic Chat with Jake Tamarkin, Co-founder and CEO, Everyday Life
- Strategic Planning in the “New Normal” Digital Era of Insurance – Your Next Move
- Insurer Tech Investment Priorities See Major Shift in a Post-COVID World
- Plug and Play Selects 25 Insurtech Startups for Winter Batches
- Digital Transformation – A Top Strategic Priority and New Reality
- Four Steps to Successful Migration of Insurance CCM Applications
- COVID-19 Accelerates Insurance Digitalization to Meet Customer Demand: World InsurTech Report 2020
- Electronic Chat with Greg Williams, Co-Founder, President & CEO, Acrisure
- Electronic Chat with Matt Perlman, Partner, IA Capital Group
- Insurer Digitalization: Are you a Competitor or a Laggard?
- Leaders are Leading and Creating the Future of Insurance Distribution
- 3 Things You Need to Know About No-Code
- Electronic Chat with Adam Kiefer, CEO, Talage
- Underwriting in 3D: Using Data to Adapt and Improve Life Insurance Sales
- Getting Past the "Gelato Syndrome"
- Insurers Know CX/UX is Important, but Don't Agree on Execution, Study Finds
- Electronic Chat with Steve Lekas, Branch Insurance
- How AI Can Attract Millennial Talent to the Insurance Industry
- Preventing Data Breaches
- A New Boom for Life Insurance: Shifting Away from the 250-Year-Old Policy Transaction
- Electronic Chat with Ty Harris, Founder and CEO, Openly
- A Digital Wildfire Creates a Burning Platform for Digital Insurance Business Transformation
- Digitalization, COVID-19 Spurring More IT Investment in Cybersecurity
- Electronic Chat with Michael DeGusta, CEO, ClarionDoor
- U.S. Consumers Significantly Underestimate Flood Risk, New Survey Finds
- The Future of Insurance: Opportunities in Ecosystems
- Electronic Chat with Todd Greenbaum, CEO, Input 1
- Majesco to be Acquired by Thoma Bravo
- The Evolving Role of Managing General Agencies
- Electronic Chat with Char Hu
- Electronic Chat with Allan L. Egbert, Jr.
- Electronic Chat with Christopher Tramontano and Zbigniew Gawienczuk
- Data Science is Gelato
- Insurance Innovation: Alive and Kicking
- Independent Agents Divided on Digital Experience, New Survey Finds
- Electronic Chat with Michael Jones
- Electronic Chat with Paul VanderMarck
- As Auto Insurance Premiums Shrink, Insurers Need Mobility Ecosystem, New Study Finds
- Property & Casualty Insurers Raise Digital Games as COVID-19 Elevates Customer Expectations, J.D. Power Finds
- Electronic Chat with Bobbie Shrivastav
- Meet the Board: Marissa Buckley
- Big Data and Insurtech: A Carrier Perspective
- Traditional Insurers Need Open Ecosystems, Partnerships to Remain Competitive, CapGemini Report Finds
- Electronic Chat with John C. Siegman
- 4 Ways AI is Empowering Insurers During COVID-19
- 6 Big Changes to Insurance from the COVID-19 Crisis
- Electronic Chat with Christopher Ewing
- Independent Agency Staff Morale High During COVID-19, New Survey Finds
- Electronic Chat with Brad Epker
- Tapping AI to Improve Policyholder Experience
- Electronic Chat with Manisha Bhargava
- ITA Pro Magazine, March/April 2020
- COVID-19 a Game Changer for Workers’ Comp
- Electronic Chat with Steve Comer
- COVID-19 Pandemic Forces Cancellation of ITA LIVE 2020
- Leveraging Digital Resources in the Time of COVID-19
- Electronic Chat with Robert Hartwig on COVID-19 and Insurance
- Celent Study: Most Small Businesses Still Unclear on Importance of Cyber Insurance
- The January/February 2020 ITA Pro is here!
- Deloitte: New C-Suite Roles Mean More Opportunities for Women
- Electronic Chat with Pankaj Parashar
- Electronic Chat with Tara Kelly
- Electronic Chat with Chuck Wilson
- ITA, InsNerds Collaborate to Enhance ITA LIVE 2020 Content and Coverage
- How SMBs Can Compete in Digital Ecosystems in the 2020s
- 4 Ways Insurance Can Prepare for New Data Privacy Laws
- Brewer Lane Ventures Launches and Hires Insurtech Vet Martha Notaras as Managing Partner
- 2020 GIA Cohort Launches on January 14
- The November/December 2019 ITA Pro is here!
- Electronic Chat with Joshua Snead
- Electronic Chat with Wendy Aarons-Corman
- Simplifying the Move to a Third-party Print Provider
- Take a Business-Driven Approach to Continuous Improvement for Core Systems and Processes
- Electronic Chat with Ron Glozman
- Guidewire’s Data Guru Mike Byam on How Insurers are Using Internal and Third-Party Data
- Electronic Chat with Russ Bostick
- Electronic Chat with Rock Schindler
- Electronic Chat with John Siegman
- Electronic Chat with Martin Burlingame
- Insurtech Landscape 2019: Top 5 Takeaways
- Grinnell Mutual Tackles Massive Transformation -- in Stride
- A Candid Conversation with Paul Mang
- SageSure Insurance Managers Improved Competitiveness by Consolidating Payments to a Single Digital Platform
- Digital Does Matter in Insurance-- And Insurers are Missing the Mark
- The 22nd-Century Insurer: Taking a Cloud-First IT Approach
- The September/October 2019 issue of ITA PRO magazine is now available in digital format here:
- ITA Pro Magazine May/June 2019
- Spotlight on the 2019 IASA Conference
- ValueMomentum Selects Erie as Site of Regional Development Center
- Capgemini and Majesco Become Alliance Partners
- Electronic Chat with Dr. Dan Shoham
- Electronic Chat with Todd Greenbaum
- Martha Notaras: The “Outsider” with an Amazing Inside View
- Electronic Chat with Larissa Tosch
- Martha Notaras Will Join ITA LIVE 2019 as a Keynote Speaker
- Five Things to Consider When Evaluating Your Cyber Risk
- ITA Pro Magazine, January/February 2019
- Synergy Between Insurers' IT and Analytics Teams Key to Operationalizing Insights, Says Novarica
- Major Ransomware Attack Could Hit U.S. with $89B In Economic Damages
- ITA Announces 1st of Three Keynote Speakers at ITA LIVE 2019
- Electronic Chat with Jeroen Morrenhof
- Legacy Systems Are Dead. Really? Don't Count On It.
- Now Accepting Nominations for the 2019 ITA Bridge Awards
- It's time to register for ITA LIVE!
- Registration is Now Open for ITA LIVE 2019!
- What to Expect from a Digital Experience Platform Implementation
- ITA Pro Magazine September Edition is Now Available
- It's National IT Professionals Day
- Save the Date for ITA-LIVE 2019
- OneShield Software and UrbanStat Work Together to Improve Real-Time Analytics and Risk Decision-Making
- ITA LIVE 2019 - SAVE THE DATE!
- Insurance Technology Association Announces New Editor-in-Chief
- August 2018 Edition ITA Pro Magazine is Now Available
- Enterprise Architecture in an Agile World
- Top 10 Tips for Securing Your Mobile Devices and Sensitive Client Data
- Industry Insight: 4 Global Insurance Trends in Digital, Data, Content Services and Security
- Diving Deeper into Prioritizing Your Strategic Digital investments
- Why Content Rules
- How Mass Personalization Will Open the Small Business Benefits Market
- At Year End 2017, Will Your Organization Be Protected from Cyber Risks?
- Do Insurance Bots Dream of Mitigating Risk?
- Conditioned to Respond
- Managing & Mobilizing Insurance Data in a Connected World
- Race to the Finish Line
- New Tools, New Opportunities in Claims
- ITA LIVE: Reaching Insurance Industry Crossroads
- Advice to Insurance IT Leaders: Keep Your Eye on the Ball
- New Date, Venue for ITA LIVE 2017
- Guidewire Makes Major Push to Small and Midtier Market by Acquiring ISCS
- Insurance Disruption is Happening Right Now
- Insurity Adds Strategic Investment Partner, General Atlantic
- Beyond Transformation: The Convergence of Finance, Risk, and Actuarial Functions
- The Rapid Evolution of Consumer Protection Regulation
- Talent Hunt: Finding, Attracting, Retaining Top People
- Insurers Flexing Their Distribution Models
- Technology Driving Disruption in Insurance
- Fear of ‘Next Bubble’ Challenges Life, Annuity Carriers
- Technology Allows Commercial Lines Insurers to Stand Out
- Single Sign-on Viewed as Biggest Tech Challenge for Agencies
- ISCS Observes 20th Anniversary; Scurto Predicts Major Changes Ahead
- Policyholders and Their First Impressions
- Progressive Making Progress on the UBI Front
- High and Dry: Insurers Search for Disaster Recovery Plans
- Insurers Sign The (Un)Dotted Line
- Reflections of a Retired Insurance CIO
- Mobile Device Management Just One Answer to BYOD Issue
- Lessons from GEICO and Progressive on Winning the Critical Buying Stage
- You Are a Target for a Cyber Attack
- Web-based Systems are the Next Evolution in Claims Technology
- Gaining a “Wow” Experience from Web Users
- Time to Shift from Business/IT Alignment to Business/IT Alliance
- Healthcare Insurers Changing to Consumer Model
- Organization is the Key for Selecting Software Vendors
- Analysts Expound on the Needs of the Mid-tier Insurance Market
- Finding the Cure for Obamacare’s Website
- New Software Solutions Benefit Insurers on the Inside and Outside
- Products, Market Impede Investment in Systems for Life Insurers
- Combatting Cyber Threats: Predict, Prevent, Persist
- The Future of Telematics Heads Beyond Insurance
- The Shame in Cyber Security Lapses
- Building Policy Administration Systems for the Future
- Insurers Look Into The Eyes of Their Policyholders
- It’s a New Dawn for the ITA
INSURANCE IT NEWS
- CannGen Insurance Services Automates Commercial Rate-Quote-Bind with insured.io
- Zywave Acquires Workers' Comp Software Firm Modgic,
- Guidewire Announces Cortina Release Introducing New Integration Framework
- LTCG, Assured Allies Team Up on Independent Aging Solutions
- Root Inc. Welcomes Christine Patrick as VP, Investor Relations
- BrokerTech Ventures Welcomes Three Industry-Leading Partners
- Global Insurance Symposium Announces Event Headliners
- Insurtech Ethos Secures $200 Million Investment Round; Valuation Exceeds $2 Billion
ITA LIVE 2020
April 5th – 7th, 2020
The Diplomat Resort
Become a member today to receive updates – www.itapro.org/MR