Briza, an insurance-as-a-service startup based in Toronto, has raised $3 million CAD

By BetaKit

The round was led by a group of angel investors including board chair Mike McDerment, CEO and co-founder of Freshbooks, and Briza CEO Ben Munro. Angel investors included Sid Sankaran, CFO of Oscar Health, Alon Neches, former treasurer of AIG, Sharon Ludlow, former CEO of Swiss Re Canada, and Louis Beryl, founder and former CEO of Earnest. The round also saw participation from Leaders Fund.

“They say the commercial insurance industry walks slowly, but this can’t continue in the era of APIs.”

Briza, which is currently participating in Batch 26 of 500 Startups’ seed accelerator, also received capital from 500 Startups for the seed round. The accelerator typically provides $150,000 USD to startups accepted to its program in exchange for six percent equity.
Briza was founded in 2016 by Munro, who has 20 years of experience in the insurance industry, including at global insurance company AIG. The team is also led by Rishi Sharma (CTO) the former director of engineering at Freshbooks and Dom Bortolussi (COO), the founder of Toronto-based development agency TWG.

The startup has developed what it calls an insurance-as-a-service API that enables instant quoting, binding, and issuance of commercial insurance policies for businesses. Briza’s platform connects insurance underwriter systems to insurance companies allowing consumers to get quotes, pay online, and receive those insurance policies instantly.

“They say the commercial insurance industry walks slowly, but this can’t continue in the era of APIs,” said Munro. “Briza is creating the infrastructure that underwriting systems will use to talk to insurance agencies, consumer apps, and anybody who wants to instantly sell insurance with just a few lines of code.”

Briza claims its is revolutionizing commercial insurance by offering a solution to the process for writing insurance policies that the startup says can normally take up to five hours for a small business. The company noted that it currently has partnerships with four insurance carriers, Fairfax company Crum & Forster, Hiscox, Markel, and Coalition. It also claims to have more than 100 insurance companies in the United States signed up for a closed beta version of its product.

According to Briza, this seed funding round brings its total funding to date to $3.9 million CAD ($3 million USD).

Briza is one of five Canadian companies participating in 500 Startups’ latest seed accelerator cohort. An overall 29 companies are currently going through the program, which is slated to have its demo day on March 19.

B.C. making preparations to tackle coronavirus now present in 39 countries

VICTORIA _ British Columbia’s provincial health officer says plans are in the works to expand the province’s battle against the novel coronavirus, which has been diagnosed in seven people.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday the World Health Organization has not listed the outbreak as a pandemic, but the situation is changing, with confirmed cases in 39 countries.

Among the seven people in B.C. with COVID-19, five are doing well and have either recovered or are near recovery, she said. The other two people with COVID-19 are listed as stable in isolation at their home.

Henry said the seventh case is a man in his 40s who is a close contact of the sixth case, a woman in her 30s whose diagnosis was confirmed last week after returning from Iran.

In the coming days, Henry said B.C. will ramp up its public awareness campaign reminding people about measures to fight COVID-19, including staying home from work or school and not attending mass gatherings if they are sick.

The plan will also stress vigilance by international travellers who may be sick upon arriving in Canada.

“We are thinking about what is different if we move to having widespread transmission in countries around the world, having widespread transmission of this in Canada and here in B.C.,” said Henry. “We are making plans with our health-care system and with our partners across government.”

Henry said the elderly would be most at risk of contracting the novel coronavirus if it starts to spread.0.

PolicyAdvisor wants to help bring life insurance into the digital age

The excerpted article was written by Isabella Kirkwood

In its 2019 Insurance Industry Outlook, Deloitte claimed Insurtech is fundamentally changing the rules of the game, driving a new innovation ecosystem with both threats and opportunities for industry leaders.

Despite the exponential surge of connectivity and digitization, some insurance providers still hold on to outdated notions about the industry’s ability to ward off disruption.

“We are using the best of technology tools to significantly complement human expertise.”

“We are living in an age of disruption. How we engage with our customers is evolving and consumer expectations are changing,” said Don Forgeron, president and CEO of the Insurance Bureau of Canada, for a survey the group released last year. “As insurers, we need to have the ability to adapt to the rapid changes that are impacting our business.”

While these circumstances have left the industry more archaic and less agile in comparison to other financial services sectors, it has made room for Insurtech startups to target the around 30 percent of Canadians currently lacking any life insurance coverage. Enter: PolicyAdvisor, an Insurtech startup based in Toronto, which is looking to build a new kind of insurance experience. The company combines modern technology and human expertise in an effort to simplify the insurance-buying process for consumers. Most notably, the company claims it’s outperforming the traditional insurance broker.


Jiten Puri, CEO of PolicyAdvisor

PolicyAdvisor harnesses data from multiple sources, using algorithms that scan hundreds of complex insurance documents to identify the right policy match for a customer. PolicyAdvisors’ approach is markedly different from other movers and shakers in Canadian Insurtech, which generally target the business and enterprise segment.

ProNavigator, is an example, having built a natural language processing AI platform that provids insurance companies with 24/7 virtual assistants. Montreal-based Breathe Life provides life and health insurers, distribution organizations, and advisors with white-label solutions to quickly and cost-effectively onboard new clients. Finaeo, another notable Canadian Insurtech company, has created workflow platforms for insurance advisors that help with repetitive tasks.

PolicyAdvisor not only works with consumers but is also an independent insurance advisor that directly provides policies to those consumers. BetaKit spoke with PolicyAdvisor founder and CEO Jiten Puri about how he’s looking to address gaps in life insurance, and what’s on the horizon for the company.

Puri, previously worked as a banker with Morgan Stanley out of New York, looking after mergers and acquisitions in the FinTech space. He called life insurance the last vestige of financial services that has yet to see the evolution other segments have embarked on. Canadian companies like Wealthsimple, Koho, Borrowell, and formerly Planswell, have all gone after a particular consumer segment with their own technology offerings. Borrowell, for example, deals with lending, while Wealthsimple takes on investing, and Koho deals with saving and spending. Puri saw an opportunity to bring together his understanding of, and connectivity in, the financial space to innovate insurance in Canada.


IBC creates task force to deal with sky-high strata insurance


Source: Global News

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) says it is working to find a solution to astronomically high strata insurance rates.

Rob de Pruis, IBC director of consumer and industry relations for Western Canada, says a task force has been created to engage with stakeholders and local governments across Western Canada.

“To get information from them to work towards solutions and recommendations to increase affordability and availability in commercial insurance, which strata corporations fall under.”

He says they already met in Edmonton on Wednesday.

Owners in a three-year-old Langley building told Global News last month that they were facing a premium hike from $97,000 to $371,000, and a deductible hike from $5,000 to $250,000.

That means if a problem arises in their unit, they will have to pay out of pocket up to their sky-high deductible.

De Pruis says expensive materials making up the building and extreme weather events are some of the many reasons for the spike in rates.

“The repair and maintenance schedule, the limits of coverage, the type of coverage and deductibles,” he said. “These are all factors that come into play that are unique to each property.”

His advice for stratas working towards reducing insurance risk is to strengthen building code requirements.

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James said in a statement that the provincial government is trying to help out.

“We have asked the British Columbia Financial Service Authority (BCFSA) to monitor the situation carefully and ensure we are doing everything we can to financially protect British Columbians.”

James is encouraging stratas that are having difficulty getting insurance to reach out to the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

The task force will meet in Vancouver on March 17.

More active financial role, good health and good earnings are all reasons underpinning their positivity

Read more

Driving has gotten more expensive in Alberta: Insurance, fuel & fee increases

Matthew Black CTV News Edmonton

EDMONTON — Albertans are paying more to drive their vehicles compared to a year ago, including increases in the cost of insurance, fuel, and licensing and registration fees, according to newly released StatsCan numbers.

StatsCan says the cost of passenger vehicle insurance premiums rose by 7.6 per cent last month, the largest monthly increase since November 2002.

The numbers also show premiums in Alberta have increased by 17.8 per cent on a year-over-year basis.
“A significant share of private passenger vehicle insurers in this province submitted applications to increase rates following the removal of a rate cap,” reads the report.

Fuel prices rose in Alberta as well last month, up 0.9 per cent from December 2019, according to the report. Alberta gas prices were up 6.6 per cent over the same month last year.
The federal carbon tax was introduced in Alberta on Jan. 1, 2020.The report also details a 14.4 per cent increase in other vehicle operating expenses in Alberta compared to a year ago.

“This was due, in part, to increases in service fees, including fees for drivers’ licences and passenger vehicle registration, introduced in the 2019-2020 provincial budget,” reads the report.
The 2019 Alberta budget raised motor vehicle registration fees by $9.20, up to $93.65.

In reponse, the province attributed rising gas prices as likely being due to the Jan. 1 roll out of the federal carbon tax, a levy Alberta continues to fight in court.
“We are ensuring that key services Albertans need are properly funded and more accurately reflect the costs of delivering them, including achieving modernizations such as online service delivery, which Albertans are asking for,” a government spokesperson wrote in an email to CTV News.

In late August, the province scrapped a five per cent cap on auto insurance rate increases implemented by the prior New Democrat government.
In December, Finance Minister Travis Toews introduced a new committee to advise on potential reforms to the province’s insurance system.
“This issue is such a significant issue that touches every Albertan,” Toews said. “To assemble a very credible, experienced committee like this, I believe we will be best-informed to make decisions around automobile insurance.”

Today, the Opposition NDP called the increases “very concerning” and called on the government to immediately reinstate the five per cent cap.
“In my office we have heard many, many stories from my constituents and Albertans … worried about people who are unable to afford these increased costs,” said New Democrat MLA Jon Carson.

The data was included in StatsCan’s monthly Consumer Price Index report which tracks changes in the average price for commonly purchased goods like groceries and haircuts.
Across Canada, the cost of gasoline and insurance premiums combined to result in a nearly 20 per cent increase in the CPI.

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