Pandemic insurance woes lead insurtech Thimble, Hiscox to partner
In an effort to significantly increase small business uptake of short-term liability insurance, potential competitors Hiscox and Thimble have elected to collaborate instead. In joining with insurtech Thimble, traditional carrier Hiscox views the alliance as a mechanism to pilot the expansion of its branding as a trusted small business advisor to the underserved microbusiness market in 48 states, rapidly capturing mindshare in the hourly, daily and month-to-month market.
Under the agreement, Hiscox acts as a referral partner to Thimble, drawing prospects to a co-branded informational page on the Hiscox website that includes a “Get a Quote” button. Clicking on the link passes prospects directly to a co-branded page on Thimble’s site, where zip code, primary work activity, and length of coverage -- hourly, daily or monthly -- are collected to generate a quote.
Customers accept the default of single-individual coverage for one million dollars, or select a greater number of individuals to include and, separately, can increase coverage to two million. Either action instantly updates the quote. Upon completing payment by credit card, the policy is issued and the policyholder can download their certificate of insurance as often as they require.
The entire quote-bind-issue process takes as little as 30 seconds, with liability policies for a couple hundred types of businesses underwritten by Markel Insurance Company. Thimble, originally known as Verifly, also offers aviation liability (drone) policies underwritten by Global Aerospace.
“Not only do we issue a policy with as little as three pieces of information, it’s all programmatic,” says Jay Bregman, Thimble founder and CEO. “By developing ISO-like rating policies, but with more flexibility, our customers will never fill out a long application, only to be declined. We think that’s a bad experience.”
A changing mindset
The journey to this novel distribution partnership actually began a decade ago when Hiscox, committed to taking a customer-oriented advisory approach to capturing market share, launched the first digital platform targeting small businesses. Although it grew the book to 400,000 policyholders, like any insurer Hiscox couldn’t underwrite everything. Additionally, the cost of constantly adapting systems to meet evolving user expectations proved steep.
“Ultimately, we decided to change our mindset,” recalls Kevin Kerridge, Executive Vice President of Small Business Insurance. “We began seeking a network of partners to help create an ecosystem where, no matter what a small business owner needs, we have a solution to offer.” Integrations with insurtechs like CoverHound followed.
When COVID-19 began causing many small businesses to view annual liability policies as burdensome, Hiscox hatched the distribution pilot idea to gauge appetite for short-term coverage before investing in further integrations.
After Hiscox identified Thimble as having a compatible vision, the insurer proposed the concept in late May. It included leveraging Hiscox’s multi-million dollar marketing budget to drive significant volume. In return, Thimble would provide the basic demographic data on each customer for further Hiscox outreach.
Beyond Hiscox’s reputation and financial strength, its customer-centric culture was key to Thimble’s acceptance. “It’s vital that our partners put the customer first and everything else second,” Bregman says.
Just days later, the product launched. “It was remarkable how quickly Hiscox moved,” says Bregman. “From our initial meeting to having the solution up and running it was about two weeks.”
COVID-19: From headwind to digital accelerator
So far, both sides are delighted with the results. “We’re having our best month ever,” Bregman says. “We’re seeing a fundamental rebirth of small business in America. Not only is everyone rethinking their business plan and cost structure, their risk barometers have been radically reset.”
Many small businesses are also realizing a project-driven policy enables them to recover insurance costs because they can present their clients with the precise expense for a specific job. “It’s much harder to bill your clients for a fractional portion of an annual policy,” says Bregman. “We’re even noticing interest from those who previously purchased traditional policies.”
According to Kerridge, Hiscox is also pleased with the uptake. “In the future, we can foresee our API team building the needed integrations to enable leveraging Thimble for rendering a quote experience within our ecosystem,” he says.
Meanwhile, Hiscox’s attitude toward COVID-19 has evolved. “Our internal conversation at Hiscox has gone from the pandemic as a substantial headwind to realizing it will actually accelerate the digitalization or our industry,” says Kerridge. “Given this really strong tailwind, we’re particularly excited about our Thimble relationship.”