The Future of Insurance Podcast - Steve Lekas & Joe Emison

CEO & CTO, Co-Founders of Branch Insurance

Season 1, Episode 12, July 13th, 2021

Guest Bio

Steve Lekas, Co-Founder and CEO, Branch Insurance
A 20-year insurance veteran, Steve began his career at Allstate, followed by Esurance, where he built the first U.S. online home insurance business. Prior to Branch Insurance, Steve was President of the Insurance Services Office’s personal lines business for Verisk Analytics. Steve co-founded Branch in 2017 to make insurance less expensive and reintroduce insurance to society as a communal good. Branch launched in 2019 and is expanding nationally.

Joe Emison, Co-Founder and CTO, Branch Insurance
Prior to Branch, Joe founded BuildFax (acquired by DMGT), Spaceful (acquired by Xceligent), BluePrince (acquired by Harris Computer), and EphPod (acquired by Wind Solutions). Joe graduated with degrees in English and Mathematics from Williams College and has a law degree from Yale Law School.

Highlights from the Show

  • You need a reason to be valuable to consumers in a different way
  • Branch’s mission is to make insurance less expensive so more people can be insured
  • In their early consumer research, Joe asked people what they would do if they had a magic wand relative to their insurance, and roughly 90% said they’d make it cheaper
  • Insurance is based on exclusions through underwriting that result in tens of millions of drivers (for example) going uninsured and more being under-insured
  • Branch started a 501(c)(3) called SafetyNest that takes a small portion of the premiums paid and sets them aside to be able to make grants to those who suffered a loss and can’t cover the cost of making them whole again, which could be because of being under-insured or uninsured, or paying the premiums of those in need to ensure they stay covered
    • The intention is to take the national uninsured percentage from 15% to 2%
    • It applies to Branch customers and non-customers, so it is genuinely aiming to help the larger problem in the country
  • With the “Build vs. Buy” debate, Joe believes you should try not to build anything, and code is a liability, not an asset
  • The mission has helped keep them focused on efficiency, which means they build fewer things themselves, located in a city (Columbus) that is lower cost than where many startups are, and keeping the team as small as possible to help keep their costs down
  • This leads to really empowering their staff to do what they need to do in serving their customers, which has lead to happier staff and happier customers, with a Google rating of 4.9 stars, which is outrageously high for insurance

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Special thanks to Medallia for sponsoring this episode.

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