The Future of Insurance Podcast – Danish Yusuf

CEO & Founder, Zensurance

Season 2, Episode 19, March 8, 2022

Guest Bio

Danish Yusuf is the Founder and CEO of Zensurance, named one of ‘Canada’s fastest growing companies’ and revolutionizing the commercial insurance experience for thousands of small businesses across Canada.

As a former leader in McKinsey & Company’s Digital Insurance practice, Danish supported insurance clients globally on defining their digital strategy. Before McKinsey, he was a software architect and developer at IBM Canada, covering everything from mainframe development to web development.

Danish earned a bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering from the University of Toronto and has an MBA from Harvard Business School. In 2018, he was named by Canadian Underwriter as one of the Top 10 Brokers Under 40 in the Property and Casualty industry.

Highlights from the Show

  • Zensurance started about 6 years ago in the Small Business P&C space, offering all of the lines of business they need, piecing together coverage from as many carriers as is needed for that account’s needs
  • Canada as a market is about where the UK was a decade ago, and the US was five years ago
  • Zensurance started in distribution, selling other carriers’ products, and morphed into an MGA
  • There are no carrier APIs in Canada, so Zensurance had to build everything themselves to be able to give rates to people who came to their site
  • The Canadian market doesn’t require commercial carriers to file rates and forms, allowing for flexibility, like in the UK
  • Zensurance got pushback from carriers on exposing their rates, saying this would lead to commoditization
    • Danish’s response is that, if people not being able to discover the price is the only thing that’s keeping you in the game, your business is already commoditized, and you just don’t know it yet, so figure out another way to compete
  • Their digital approach has allowed them to ensure the right questions are asked for each type of risk, and they can see if people change their answers that informs their confidence in their rate, which has lead to better loss results than the market
  • While Zensurance uses third party data, they’ve found it is hard to source reliable third party data on micro risks, so they’ve instead built out their own questions, hyper-tailored to the risks, and found they can ask more questions in a tailored way with the right language, which leads insureds to feel more comfortable with them since they’re demonstrating an understanding of the insured’s business
    • As a result, they can ask more questions than others, while there’s a push elsewhere to ask fewer and fewer questions
  • Managing all those questions to ask across so many different combinations of what businesses do and where and how they do it makes this extremely hard, and not a job you ever finish work on
  • While Personal Lines gets a lot of the digitization focus, Small Commercial drives profit but is not in the discussion, meaning it’s an untapped gem that is attractive to focus on – if you can solve the expense ratio issue in the space
  • COVID accelerated the online push, meaning Zensurance grew 4x in the past 18 months
  • They’ve also had to keep evolving their business taxonomy as the work people do keeps changing, especially in the pandemic
    • This also impacts their pricing, question sets and more
  • The value of being a full stack carrier rather than an MGA is about controlling your price, but at the cost of significant capital needs and margin risk
  • The Small Commercial market in Canada is still not one that’s had a lot of digital disruption, and Zensurance is the largest and only one that’s purely Canadian-focused
  • Some people, some of the time want to talk to a human, so you can’t just go fully digital, but you also need to think how to do the human side efficiently
  • There are different segments of customers you need to serve, so understanding that and how to serve them differently (or choosing not to serve every segment) is critical to success

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