One Insurance Broker’s Drive for Innovation

March 5, 2012

When Jessica Scorpio, 24, began her quest for insurance for Getaround.com, a peer-to-peer car sharing organization, she ran into a few closed doors.

“I definitely spent my whole 22nd year banging on insurance doors,” she said.

Scorpio, who serves as Getaround’s director of marketing, founded Getaround along with Sam Zaid, CEO, and Elliot Kroo, director of engineering. They knew from the get-go that insurance would be crucial to the success of their peer-to-peer car sharing company.

When she began her quest for coverage, Scorpio found that few people in the insurance industry wanted to take a chance on this unchartered territory. Then she came across one insurance broker who made all the difference. That broker was Julie Davis, vice president, brokerage and social media director for Heffernan Insurance Brokers based in San Francisco.

“We’ve worked extremely closely with Julie and the team at Heffernan,” Scorpio said. “They understand our business really well.”

That understanding of the risk was an asset in creating an insurance program almost as innovative as Getaround itself.

“Anytime you have people that are doing peer-to-peer sharing, I think it just sort of rewrites the rules of how personal coverage and commercial coverage work,” Davis said.

Davis’ expertise helped open the door to the right insurance partners. Those partners turned out to be RT Specialty and Berkshire Hathaway’s National Indemnity.

Lynn Cogger Koop, senior vice president for RT Specialty in Chicago, says developing an insurance program for Getaround required a little more creativity than even her most unusual commercial auto clients.

Davis said the biggest challenge was getting carriers to step back and understand the risk.

The main problem for underwriters is there’s no data to accurately assess the risk, Koop said. “There isn’t anything to go by.”

While Davis and Scorpio delivered a good risk model for Getaround — so well that National Indemnity took a chance on writing the coverage — the carrier remains unsure about writing other similar risks, Koop said.

“They are probably not going to do any others [peer-to-peer car sharing risks],” Koop said. “They are cautiously optimistic about this risk because there is really no rating methodology or actuarial data because no one has done this before.”

Koop says that even though the Getaround insurance program remains in a test phase, so far so good. “Getaround has been a great client,” Koop said. “They are helping us develop some data to share.”

Loss experience has been good as well. “My personal experience is the claims have been surprisingly great,” Davis said.

Both Davis and Koop see the sharing economy as a good opportunity for insurance growth and innovation.

“It’s definitely a class of business that we are writing,” Koop said. “We’re in the test phase on auto so we are not actively pursuing any other peer-to-peer car sharing but the other classes are quite honestly a little bit easier to put together.”

Topics Insurtech

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Insurance Journal West March 5, 2012
March 5, 2012
Insurance Journal West Magazine

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