Making it easier than ever to access the right life insurance coverage is the mission of tech leader Ethos Life
The human desire to protect those we love is nothing new, and neither is the concept of life insurance. In fact, the bare basics – the way we apply and qualify for insurance coverage – hasn’t changed very much in the 150 years since the concept of life insurance was first popularized. Today, modern technology has made certain aspects of claims adjustment and underwriting much easier and faster for carriers, but consumers still face challenges that can put them off from getting the coverage they and their families need.
Purchasing life insurance is exponentially faster, but applying and qualifying for coverage remains time-consuming, as does policy underwriting. The looming specter of getting the medical tests required to qualify for certain policies has long been a reason for people who may benefit most from life insurance to avoid or delay buying it.
There’s also the issue of immediacy: In today’s climate of instant gratification and the industry-agnostic promise of rapid and satisfying customer experiences, answering seemingly endless questions and waiting for weeks to learn if a carrier will cover a customer – and do so at the best possible rate – is rarely acceptable.
For insurers, keeping potential policyholders from dropping out of the sales cycle is a constant battle they’ve been working to alleviate for decades. There’s still plenty of dissatisfaction on both the carrier and end consumer sides to go around.
“When you can make the experience very easy, convenient, powerful, and efficient along with great competitive pricing, you really have a winning formula,” according to Brandt Kucharski, chief accounting officer for breakthrough technology developer Ethos Life. Listed in Forbes’ Top 50 Fintechs of 2020, the Austin, Texas-based company is breaking the barriers that keep potential policyholders from getting the vital protection they and their families need, and that keep insurers from reaching their fullest potential and ensuring continuing healthy growth.
The inspiration for Ethos stemmed from a negative experience with traditional life insurance. While co-founder Lingke Wang was in college, he was upsold on an expensive life insurance policy he didn’t need and couldn’t afford. He saw that the complexities of buying life insurance made it extremely confusing to choose and apply for the right coverage for his needs and he realized his experience wasn’t unique.
In 2016, Lingke collaborated with fellow Stanford Business School classmate Peter Colis to change that dynamic forever and launched Ethos Life. They reimagined the application process from end to end to make it truly people-centric, with flexible coverage options, access to convenient value-added online tools, and a national team of licensed agents poised to help and support policyholders. They ditched the delays and needless hassles, dramatically streamlined the process, and built a network of some of the industry’s best insurers and life insurance products on the planet.
Their stable of top-tier carriers have paid out billions of dollars in claims. They include the legendary pioneer Mutual of Omaha, as well as Legal and General America, Ameritas Life Insurance Corp., TruStage® Financial Group, Inc., and Senior Life Insurance Company. As Kucharski put it, Ethos Life was also created to help life insurance carriers succeed.
“We're built to help them drive business and attract great quality policyholders,” he stressed. “We’re developing cutting edge technology for digital underwriting, and we’re very excited about that. We love our carrier partners and we're excited to continue to grow, add more value, and help them generate more policy premiums.”
The overall life insurance business model hasn't changed much in 150 years, and the life insurance sector of the industry at large is not rife with early adopters. That’s not to say firms have avoided technology, quite the contrary. But what Ethos Life has done with their digital underwriting is highly complex and requires hundreds of thousands of data points, as well as sophisticated proprietary AI and machine learning technologies.
“It would take about 20 years for someone to be able to replicate the technology, and then they’d be behind the curve,” he pointed out. “Life insurance companies are great at distribution and other aspects of the business, but developing technology isn’t their core competency.”
With their focus on improving peoples’ lives, it’s not surprising that the human touch is an important part of what Ethos Life provides. They aren’t a software company that automates processes to eliminate agents. Policyholders can decide if they want to communicate with a licensed agent or conduct all of their business online.
“Our wonderful agent partners help sell our product,” Kucharski said, stressing the strong carrier relationships they’ve built. “Now life insurance agents can slim down their own six-week process to 10 minutes, help close sales cycles quicker and ensure more business, so everyone wins.”
As a technology-first company, Ethos Life continually adds new features and products. In 2021 the company acquired the digital will and trust software developer Tomorrow Ideas; consequently, customers can officially create an estate plan, complete wills and trusts, make changes, and add beneficiaries and assets, all included with their life insurance policy.
“When you can develop software that can underwrite a policy in 10 minutes with the same effectiveness as the old method of getting life insurance, you really have something disruptive,” Kucharski said. “What Uber did for catching a ride and what GrubHub did for food delivery, Ethos Life is doing for life insurance.” Kucharski knows whereof he speaks; he was on the ingenious team that launched GrubHub.
“That experience of putting in controls and launching and scaling a company from a couple million in revenue to $10 billion transfers very well to Ethos Life,” he explained. “It takes me back to a couple of years before GrubHub went public in terms of the growth of the company, unit economics becoming incredibly powerful, the scale, the startup becoming a full-fledged mature company that can hit the public markets.”
Unsurprisingly, Ethos Life has developed a high-performance entrepreneurial culture that meets skyscraping expectations with care and compassion.
This suits Kucharski well; he was able to leverage the success he had scaling Grubhub and help become the first board member at Holiday Heroes foundation to help scale the foundation to serve its mission of providing joy and comfort to kids in long term medical care. Holiday Heroes now supports children and families in 50 hospitals from coast to coast. It’s not a very far cry from his work at Ethos Life.
“We're helping protect families, helping to make sure that if something unfortunate happens our policyholders are taken care of,” he concluded. “That to me is something I can get behind. Ethos Life is becoming a pretty powerful brand name too, which is great. It's cool being part of something that's disruptive and doing something that's never been done before.”
Ethos is a technology company. We make it easier than ever for everyone to protect their families with life insurance online, in minutes, without any medical exams. Ethos has created the insurance industry's most advanced proprietary technology, eliminating the traditional barriers to life insurance by developing instant and accessible products. We issue billions in coverage each month and an invaluable amount of peace of mind for our families every single day.
5001 Plaza on the Lake
Austin, TX 78746
Phone Number: 415.915.0665
Homepage Link: https://www.ethoslife.com