New Florida Insurtech Agency HoneyQuote Looks to Shake-Up Agency Model

By | August 16, 2018

A new insurtech agency has entered the Florida homeowners market space with a rating engine offering quotes from multiple domestic carriers and the ability to purchase coverage in one transaction.

HoneyQuote.com, launching next month, was created by Franklyn Taveras and Justin Zemaitis, who are both former employees of Florida-based Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Co. and friends since they were kids. They say their agency is the future of online insurance agencies.

“HoneyQuote a prime example of what and independent agency will look like in the future – we are going online where the consumer is,” said Taveras.

The current “lite” version of the HoneyQuote app sends customers homeowners insurance quotes within 24 hours but quotes will be available in real time once the full version of the rating engine is launched next month.

Taveras said the beta mode has allowed HoneyQuote, based in West Palm Beach, to attract carriers and refine its customer experience, which he says needs to be easier and quicker from the entire industry.

“Customers are surprised when they hear it could take up to a week to get a [policy] quote,” he said. “HoneyQuote is not just about a great real time experience and quotes, but accurate rates that are viable and can cover someone that same day.”

Homeowners, renters and condo coverage quotes are currently available on the beta site from four Florida-based insurers: UPC Insurance, Florida Peninsula Insurance Co., FedNat Insurance Co., Edison Insurance Co. and Citizens Property Insurance Corp.

Consumers enter their address, upload their current insurance policy, compare quotes from the insurers and can then bind coverage online through one of HoneyQuote’s in-house licensed agents. Customers can also opt to speak with a HoneyQuote agent via the phone or online chat to buy coverage or if they have any questions.

Once coverage is purchased, the policyholder’s documents are available through HoneyQuote’s “My Hive” account.

Available additional coverages include animal liability, earthquake coverage, flood coverage, identity theft, jewelry coverage, mold and water back-up coverage

Taveras said their business model originally started with them partnering with local agencies and bringing those agencies’ direct carrier appointments onto to the HoneyQuote platform, but as they moved along it became clear HoneyQuote needed to be its own agency in order to “take control of the customer’s journey” and access carriers internal rating manuals and buying guides, he said.

While they are still working with three local agencies, HoneyQuote is now an appointed agent with its carriers and selling through its own internal agents. Taveras said HoneyQuote is building its own management tools and down the line it could consider sharing those with other independent agencies.

Taveras said they are open to investors and are still looking for additional carriers to partner with but noted their “sweet spot” is about six or seven.

“The goal is not to launch with a dozen different carriers. We are trying to find the right partners to take us across the state and really partner with us,” he said.

Creating the right system with the right carriers was part of the challenge in launching HoneyQuote, Taveras said, as they had to first create direct relationships with the companies and integrate the companies’ underwriting and rating criteria to ensure policies are properly underwritten and priced.

“There is little room for error when it comes to adequate pricing,” Taveras said.

In his previous role at Universal, Taveras was responsible for customer acquisitions for the company’s direct to consumer venture where he saw the challenges carriers faced in trying to sell direct to the customer.

“The customers don’t feel like they are getting the best rate and there is a lack of educational tools,” he said.

For that reason, Taveras said part of HoneyQuote.com’s fundamental strategy includes offering educational content so “customers can feel confident about the coverages being offered and what they are doing on our site.”

Taveras said a fundamental premise of HoneyQuote is to put out tools so customers know and understand the coverages they are choosing fit their profile.

“The goal is for people to educate themselves and we empower them to do it themselves, but of course we have a way for people to reach an agent,” he said.

For now, the online agency is completely focused on homeowners insurance but Taveras says they getting their “feet wet” with rental, landlord, and condo coverage. They have also been approached by flood insurance carriers and will test out offering that coverage “very soon” he said.

As for the name “HoneyQuote,” Taveras said it has a special meaning that celebrates the years-long friendship between him and Zemaitis.

“Growing up, my buddies and I had a meet-up spot that we called ‘the hive.’ Years later, Justin and I still used the term. So, when we finally got around to starting this business, we went through hundreds of domains and saw that HoneyQuote.com was available. We knew immediately that it was the perfect name and it has stuck ever since,” Taveras said. “We are childhood friends who have grown up together and shared this dream of starting our business. And here we are.”

About Amy O'Connor

O'Connor is the Southeast editor for Insurance Journal and associate editor of MyNewMarkets.com. More from Amy O'Connor

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.