Meet the insurtech: Branch

Bundling home and auto coverage is a good way for consumers to get a unified, efficient experience from their insurers. The Columbus-based insurtech Branch is trying to make it as easy as possible to do so.

Co-founded by Allstate veteran Steve Lekas and Joe Emison, formerly of BuildFax, Branch sells a bundled home and auto product based on only one piece of input from the customer: Their name and home address. From there, various APIs and data calls present the customer with a bindable quote in less than a minute.

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Lekas says the genesis of his vision came after Allstate acquired Esurance. He was assigned to Esurance to build an online direct-to-consumer homeowner's product. "We required 83 questions to purchase, which seems suboptimal," he explains. "Having looked around the data business, I felt there might be a path to instant bind without having to answer so many questions. That's when I called Joe."

Emison, who serves as CTO of Branch, has been the "tech-side founder" for a few startups. Though Lekas originally was asking him for a recommendation, "I was interested myself," he says.

Working to realize Lekas's goal meant building a lot of the tech stack from scratch, Emison adds. "We are trying to do a lot of things that haven’t been done before," he says. "I’d like to spend our software development budget on the differentiators."

One area that Branch felt could be handled by off-the-shelf software was rating. Branch signed on with ClarionDoor to use the company's Digital Distribution Suite for that segment of the process. "Every state is going to have its own plans and every change we make has an effective date," Emison says. "ClarionDoor handles that for us."

On the data side, Branch uses technology from Amazon Web Services and Arturo, among others. "We are pulling in more data and in that we’ve developed a unique method of acquiring the data, where the data we get leads us to more data," Lekas says.

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