A Tinder for insurance?

How one brokerage start-up is matchmaking for policyholders

A Tinder for insurance?

Insurance News

By Gia Snape

What do insurance brokers have in common with Tinder, Bumble, and OkCupid?

Matchmaking apps are keen on understanding the preferences and needs of individuals and connecting them with good matches in the same way brokers align their clients with the right insurance providers.

New start-up Coverboo is banking on being an insurance matchmaker, using colourful aesthetics and Tiktok-speak to appeal to a new generation of customers.

A fully online brokerage, Coverboo offers business, home, and auto insurance with a local touch and personalized, white-glove service.

Speaking to Insurance Business, Trevor McIntosh (pictured), president and founder of Coverboo, said the company’s branding was in response to a “lack of distinction” in the market.

“There are no insurance brokerages trying to use more modern pop culture references to tell the insurance narrative,” said McIntosh, who has spent over 20 years working for some of Canada’s top insurance companies.

“There's an emerging generation of Gen Zs, and no one's paying much attention to them. There's a huge opportunity here as a brokerage to start building a bridge with this generation, to be ready to supply them with the insurance products they need when they need them.”

McIntosh’s ultimate goal is for Coverboo’s interface to mimic dating apps.

“The vision is to have an experience or a user journey that does emulate a dating app, where you would simply swipe left and right for certain things,” said McIntosh. “We have a hyper-rudimentary version of this now, and what that will look like is identifying your needs through a flow that mirrors a Tinder swiping experience.”

Insurance happily ever after

Before launching Coverboo in July 2023, McIntosh served as vice president of operations at Zensurance, a Toronto-based insurtech. He also spent time at BrokerLink and Intact.

“I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit,” he said.

McIntosh’s inspiration for Coverboo also came from conversations with friends he considered target customers. He came up with Coverboo as a play on “boo,” slang for a romantic partner or even a close friend, and the abbreviation of “boutique,” the type of service he wanted to offer customers.

“Many people think of branding as what they see on the website, the colours and all that jazz. But for me, it encompasses the business's identity and the type of experience people can expect when interacting with you,” McIntosh said.

“I spent a lot of time building focus groups with my friends who own businesses, cars, homes, all that good stuff, and trying to understand their ideas around insurance brokerages. How could you approach that conversation using more untraditional language that might resonate more with certain people and individuals?

“As a retail brokerage that’s fully online, totally digital, we differentiate ourselves by trying to debunk many of what people may think insurance brokerages are all about. I try to do that in a light-hearted, fun way.”

The challenges of starting an insurance brokerage

Since opening shop in mid-2023, Toronto-based McIntosh has been trying to grow the brokerage solo with the help of a part-time operations manager and a digital marketing consultant. However, he is looking to bring on producers starting in February.

As an online broker, McIntosh “isn’t sold” on the idea of going the brick-and-mortar but wants to bring Coverboo’s to more customers through community pop-ups.

Despite his experience and connections in the industry, his passion for insurance, and his creativity, McIntosh admitted there were significant challenges in starting a brokerage.

“There’s a reason there's not a lot of innovation happening in the space right now, and it’s because the barriers to entry are next to impossible if you're not prepared for the hustle,” he said.

“I was a little naive when I started this journey in the sense that because I have received a lot of recognition in the industry for work that I've done, and I've got some pretty deep connections with a lot of the big carriers, I thought it'd be relatively easy for me to go out and get those contracts.

“But nowadays, every market wants $1 million or $2 million, day one. No one wants to talk to you if you’re a start-up brokerage and not a producer who has that $5 million to $6 million book that can commit volume to them from day one. It’s really deflating.”

For McIntosh, the industry should have more resources to guide entrepreneurs through the process and the “moving pieces” of starting an insurance brokerage. However, sharing his experience starting Coverboo with others has also been rewarding.

“What’s been rewarding about it is insurance professionals that have reached out, who are in similar positions,” he said.

“There’s nothing I love more than having those conversations and not gatekeeping my knowledge, sharing it with as many people as I can to enable them to try to start their own insurance businesses as well.”

What are your thoughts on Coverboo and this story? Please share them in the comments

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