Beam Dental began as a startup in 2012 selling a unique product: Bluetooth-connected toothbrushes that gather real-time data on brushing habits and provide feedback through a mobile app. It soon after began offering insurance, with policies underwritten by National Guardian Life, which incorporate dental hygiene behavior into policy pricing and lower loss ratios.
Today, Beam insurance is available in 16 states. But after raising an additional $22.5 million in May, the company plans to more than double that by the end of the year.
Alex Frommeyer, Beam Dental’s CEO, emphasizes that there is serious value underlying its brightly-colored toothbrushes, but admits the fun factor is important as well. “There’s definitely a fun element which is great from my perspective, since both digital health and insurance are spaces where most elements are deservedly very serious,” he says. “The ability to build something that has a value underlying it but a distinct and fun personality up front is really cool.”
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Frommeyer says he was “astounded” to discover that over 100 million Americans lack access to affordable dental insurance. Beam, he explains, has sought to address the “broken” parts of the industry’s value chain by bringing technology and data into the mix. “I think the lack of creativity and education and user experience have all hurt the industry’s ability to grow,” he says.
However, thanks to wearable and connected products such as FitBit, connected scales and even Nest thermostats, consumers understand how tools they are using on their smartphone or computer can extend into other products. “In our case, our value proposition is clear,” he says. “You have been brushing your teeth your whole life but dental insurance doesn’t give you credit for it — you may take way better care of your teeth than guy up the street, but you have both been paying the same price for dental coverage.”
The company says it has more ideas coming down the pike: But first, the company plans to focus on expanding its array of plans and opening in more states.
“I think we have a lot up our sleeves, we are in the early innings of exploring what is possible and what should be done in terms of pricing, benefits and plan design,” says Frommeyer. “We have a long way to go before we can confidently say Beam plans are broadly available.”
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