A cluster of startups are looking to disrupt one of the oldest industries in the world: insurance.
Insurance has been around for thousands of years.
The earliest instance of insurance law is believed to date to King Hammurabi, about 1700 BC.
Business Insider spoke with venture capitalists, CEOs, and entrepreneurs around the world about startups breaking into segments of the market.
They include healthcare, home insurance, auto insurance and – yes – one startup that is taking on the ambitious task of getting startups themselves a better rate on insuring their business.
The startups coming to the insurance industry are taking on companies that have been around for 100 years or longer.
Lloyds of London, for example, an insurance market that traces its beginning to 1688, it one of the oldest companies in the world.
TheZebra is a price-comparison site backed by Mark Cuban.
- Barbara Eckstein/flickr
TheZebra got started after a cold email from founder Adam Lyons to billionaire tech investor Mark Cuban: “Want to disrupt the insurance industry?” He did.
The way he’s doing it is through a comparison-shopping site that tracks insurers big and small to provide consumers with the best choices. It’s similar to Geico’s comparison-shopping product, but independent of other insurers.
Backers include Mark Cuban and Floodgate, along with other seed investors. Already, Lyons’ startup is working in all 50 states with more than 200 insurers.
FounderShield has a unique client base.
- Kirsten Acuna/Business Insider
The New York-based startup provides insurance for startups. It has already backed curious companies including those producing sex toys and medical marijuana. “There are a lot of companies that do not market insurance to startups,” said founder Benji Markoff, including Chubb and AIG.
Despite not raising a penny in venture funding, FounderShield has put 1,200 startups under its budding umbrella.
Wallflower wants to keep its users from burning down the house.
- Company website
Wallflower isn’t out to change how consumers get insurance. The Boston-based startup has a far more important goal: It wants to keep you from burning your house down.
Right now, the company is focusing on the consumer market with its product that monitors users’ homes to track “dumb appliances,” according to founder and CEO Victor Jablokov, like stoves and microwaves.
The startup hasn’t yet raised venture money, although Jablokov said it has taken on “a couple million” in funding.
Metromile wants to charge by the mile for insurance plans.
San Francisco-based Metromile aims to save low-mileage drivers money. The company wants to keep drivers’ insurance tabs around $500 a year, which would represent a monster price break from some current rates.
The startup has a partnership with insurers in the National General Insurance Corp. and aims to launch in new states soon. It already offers pay-by-the-mile insurance in California, Washington, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Illinois (and has a similar product in Oregon).
Backers include NEA, Index Ventures, First Round Capital, and SV Angels.
Digital Risks focuses on insuring digital and media businesses.
- Company Website
Digital Risks aims to back corporate users in the digital and media industry that have 20 or more employees or about $3 million in annual revenue.
Founded in 2014, the budding insurance business is based in London and appears to have raised very little venture cash to date.
Bolt Solutions offers coverage across 50 states.
New York-based Bolt Solutions has a half-dozen venture backers and nearly $30 million in venture funding raised.
The company, which has been around since 2000 but rebranded in 2013, offers coverage across 50 states via licensed agents who aim to target new business online.
Bolt Solutions offers both personal and commercial lines of insurance online. Bolt’s first name was SeaPass Solutions.
Friendsurance is touting peer-to-peer insurance.
- Company Website
You can peer-to-peer lend. So why not peer-to-peer insure your friends? Friendsurance is looking to do that. Launched in 2010, the German startup hasn’t publicized its fundraising tally to date, but backers include the German Startups Group, VantageFund, and e.ventures, according to the company’s Crunchbase posting.
It has established partnerships with insurance providers in Europe.
Clover Health aims to provide insurance solutions to older American
- REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
Clover Health is out to help older healthcare consumers. Cofounders Vivek Garipalli and Kris Gale told Business Insider they aim to address care gaps through advanced analytics, particularly for those dependent on Medicare.
The company’s future is so promising that venture firm First Round Capital broke its cardinal rule of only investing a half-million dollars in every deal, and pushed $4 million into Clover Health’s monster $100 million fundraising.
Social Intelligence has a different way of scoring customers.
- Spencer E Holtaway
Social Intelligence has a scoring model that allows insurers to price, underwrite, and process claims more effectively – thanks to data in part derived from social media.
The startup has raised financing in the past, but didn’t publicize details, and is not looking for any new funding.
It’s not just Facebook. Social Intelligence looks to derive data from wearables and IoT devices, as well. In other words, probably think about your premium before posting that Vine of you diving off a roof into a pool.
The Climate Corporation helps farmer create insurance plans based on weather data.
- Company Website
The Climate Corporation launched software tools in 2006 to help farmers use data to defend their crops. Over time, backers including Founder’s Fund, Index Ventures, and NEA poured more than $100 million into the San Francisco startup. Investors’ bets were realized when the startup was acquired for an eye-bulging $930 million by mega-corporation Monsanto in 2013.
MyDrive was bought by one of the biggest insurers in Europe.
- schenfeld via Flickr
London-based MyDrive is an awful lot like San Francisco-based Metromile – just on the other side of the road. It analyzes things including pace, calmness, anticipation, and consistency of drivers. It does this via the “black box” plug-in it provides users for their rides. MyDrive was bought earlier this year by one of the biggest insurance companies in all of Europe.
Haven Life was launched by a legacy insurer to get new clients on board.
- company website
Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance, a 100-year-old insurer, launched Haven Life earlier this year to get consumers into new term life insurance products in a matter of minutes.
Bizinsure is another example of a legacy player launching anew online.
- Company website
The San Francisco-based startup was founded by San Francisco-based insurance brokerage Woodruff-Sawyer in 2012 and provides insurance products to businesses in all 50 states. It reaches across a number of industries as well. Woodruff-Sawyer’s play to get online represents yet another big player in the “old” insurance industry working to catch up with the “new” one.
Oscar Health has backing from boldface names.
Oscar, the New York healthcare startup, is out to take on huge incumbents like UnitedHealthcare. The company’s 2015 haul includes two separate fundraising that value it at more than $1.5 billion.
Oscar separately took funding from Peter Thiel and Google Capital totaling nearly $200 million this year.
EZLynx aims to be like Kayak’s travel site — but for insurance.
- Company website
EZLynx is building “the Kayak of the consumer-insurance business,” accessing 169 carriers in 48 different states.
The company was founded in Texas in 2003 under Webcetera’s corporate umbrella and looks to get smaller insurers better exposure, similar to the way lending startups provide opportunities for smaller regional and community banks to access new clientele online.