New insurtech Jetty takes on urban living with renters insurance and more

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The latest insurtech to make it to market is a renters insurance company with several value-added services already built in.

Jetty, conceived by two former design industry executives, launches its core product today in Pennsylvania, Illinois and Georgia. In two additional states, however, it offers ancillary products that together aim to solve several issues associated with renting homes.

"The traditional insurance industry misses the mark with modern urban consumers and today’s renters in a few key ways," says co-founder Mike Rudoy. "We honed in on a specific moment in time that we experienced ourselves: landlords requiring renters to buy renters insurance, post an expensive security deposit, and find a guarantor. There was no solution that just helped consumer ‘get in the door.’ With our launch suite of products, we’ve done that."

Rudoy outlined the key issues he and co-founder Luke Cohler identified as they experienced renting:

  • The products are "built for an earlier era of consumers whose lives centered around suburban life and the automobile, as opposed to offering solutions for modern city dwellers who are well into their adult years, living in apartments and remaining in the city versus moving out to the suburbs."
  • The customer experience "is wholly out-of-sync with the ways in which modern consumers wish to buy products and services" online, he adds. "Self-serve is not an option; websites are barely functional, let alone on mobile." Jetty distributes exclusively online and encourages mobile.
  • The pricing misperceives the actual risk of living in the city. "Many carriers penalize urban renters and their pricing models are still informed by a 1970s vision of the 'inner city' as a dangerous, nefarious place."

Renters insurance is underwritten by Munich Re, with Jetty serving as an MGA. Starting plans provide base coverage features, but the company also offers "Jetty Power-Ups" which allow members to add à la carte coverage for valuable, high-ticket items like jewelry, designer handbags and shoes, personal electronics, music and audio gear, wine collections, artwork and bicycles.

The company also offers Jetty Passport, surety bonds that help renters meet some of the high up-front costs of getting an apartment. If renters need a guarantor, they can sign up for Passport Lease, under which Jetty will serve as the guarantor in exchange for 60% to 120% of one month's rent. If renters need help meeting security deposit requirements, Jetty Deposit will cover the costs over 18% of the deposit amount.

"In both of these cases, the products essentially function like insurance for the landlord. If the tenant damages the apartment or flies the coop, we'll reimburse the landlord straight away and then it's on us to attempt to recover from the tenant. That mechanism gives the landlord the security and comfort to waive the traditional requirements," explains Cohler.

Finally, Jetty is building a member rewards network as well. "A Jetty membership comes with access to a number of discounts and perks at city-related businesses and services," says Rudoy. "It’s Jetty’s mission to help people overcome obstacles that living in a city presents -- and the cost of living is one of them. Over time, this program will expand with new partners and more services that might not have anything to do with insurance."

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