These cutting-edge insurance startups are giving back to communities
Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com
Insurance provides valuable protection for you and your community by pooling risk so that no one suffers a catastrophic loss on their own. However, even though this service is a “social good,” the organizations that provide it are for-profit companies. Insurance giants routinely give large donations to charity, but modern consumers, especially millennials, are looking for products that have a clear commitment to giving back.
Many brands like Toms and Warby Parker saw success in giving consumers a charitable option when shopping. Insurance startups are offering consumers a similar option by giving back a portion of all premium payments to good causes. These digital insurance startups are innovating not just the way we buy insurance but the way insurers give back.
Lemonade is a well-established homeowners and renters insurance company that uses a unique business model with social responsibility baked right in. Instead of answering to stockholders, Lemonade has structured its business so it takes a flat fee for operating costs while the remaining premiums are used to pay out claims.
If anything is left over at the end of a year after paying claims and operating costs, Lemonade’s Giveback program kicks in to donate unused premiums to the policyholders selected when they signed up for coverage. This donation isn’t guaranteed, as it depends on the financial stability of the company as a whole, but Lemonade was able to give back over $600,000 in 2019 alone.
Lemonade is a Certified B-Corp, meaning the business isn’t a nonprofit, but its commitment to a larger purpose has been verified by a third-party organization. Lemonade’s website puts it this way: “Insurance was created to be a social good, and Lemonade’s mission statement is to transform insurance from a necessary evil into a social good.”
AI claims handling
To help users save money, Lemonade operates entirely online, including its claims handling process. Its claims process begins with an AI running an algorithm that looks for insurance fraud. If the AI is able to approve your claim, you’ll get paid instantly, but if the system isn’t conclusive, it can pass your claim on to a team of claims specialists.
Branch, founded in 2017, offers auto, renters and homeowners insurance with a vision to “leverage the dual powers of technology and community.”
“Branch’s mission is to make insurance less expensive, allowing more of us to be insured, which benefits everyone,” says Branch Co-founder and CEO, Steve Lekas.
Instead of putting your premiums toward a third-party nonprofit, Branch contributes a portion of premiums to its affiliate organization called SafetyNest, currently pending 501(c)(3) status.
“If someone has suffered financial loss because of an incident where they didn’t have any or enough insurance, they may qualify for the SafetyNest program,” Charlie Wendland, Branch’s Head of Claims, explains.
“Branch manufactures less expensive insurance and SafetyNest helps bring the uninsured into the insured community through grants and financial education,” says Lekas. “The more who are insured, the less each insured pays for insurance.”
Policies are backed by an established insurer
Branch does not underwrite its own policies, meaning that while you work with Branch for customer service-related needs, it works with another company that actually holds onto the risk, an underwriter. Branch works with General Security National Insurance, a company rated A+ in financial strength by AM Best. Branch doesn’t control the payments from the underwriter if you need to make a claim, but it will provide a representative to help you through the process.