Startup Insurer Lemonade Is Going National; Files for Licenses Countrywide

By | December 22, 2016

Insurance startup Lemonade is eyeing a national expansion and has filed for licenses to operate in 46 states and the District of Columbia.

The peer-to-peer insurer that is focused on renters and homeowners insurance is pursuing the broader regulatory approval strategy after starting small.

The move to go national comes only one year after the founders, Daniel Schreiber and Shai Wininger, first went public with their promise to reinvent the insurance industry business model and make insurance a “delightful” experience for consumers.

In September, the insurer announced it had gained its first insurance carrier license in New York and started selling in that state. It also said that it had filed for a license in California.

A spokesperson told Carrier Management that it was unclear which state would grant approval next because “approval times are dynamic.”

Lemonade said it is applying for approval in only 46 additional states at this time because Mississippi, Washington and Wyoming have statutory waiting times. It will file in each of those states once the waiting time requirements have been met

The insurer said it will provide a web link so customers can track the progress and availability of Lemonade products in each state, the spokesperson said. Once active, that link will be www.lemonade.com/lemonade_goes_nationwide.

Lemonade hopes to become available to 97 percent of the U.S. population during 2017.

Lemonade says that “tens of thousands of people” nationally have applied for Lemonade coverage since September.

In its first 48 hours after it opened for business in New York, Lemonade reported that it sold 142 policies and generated $14,300 in gross written premium. Lemonade revealed the early numbers in a message from Wininger, co-founder and president. Lemonade’s average homeowners premium in those first days was $1,120 ($93 per month).

Lemonade uses software, called bots, to deliver insurance through its app and at lemonade.com. Consumers also file claims with the bot, which can pay claims instantly and without human intervention. Lemonade takes a flat fee for insurance and gives back any unclaimed money to causes policyholders care about.

“Staffing Lemonade with bots instead of brokers allows for rapid expansion,” said Wininger. “The cloud is accessible from anywhere, our datasets are nationwide, and our network of contractors span all 50 states. The reception in New York has been remarkable, and we can’t wait to be live across the nation.”

Earlier this month, Lemonade disclosed that it raised $34 million in new venture funding to help expand its operations. General Catalyst led the round, with participation from GV (formerly Google Ventures), Thrive Capital and Tusk Ventures. Existing investors XL Innovate (the investment arm of XL Catlin), Aleph and Sequoia also participated.

That funding was on top of $13 million in seed funding from venture capital firms including Sequoia Capital and Aleph it landed a year ago.

Lemonade has attracted veteran insurance executives from major insurers for its executive team. Among them are Lemonade Chief Insurance Officer Ty Sagalow, a veteran from American International Group, and Chief Underwriting Officer John Peters, formerly with Liberty Mutual.

Everest Re, Hiscox, Lloyd’s of London, XL Catlin and Berkshire Hathaway’s National Indemnity are among Lemonade’s global reinsurance partners.

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