Canadian Underwriter

Insurtech seeks to bring the ‘Uber-Netflix-Spotify-Amazon’ experience to commercial clients

March 11, 2019   by Greg Meckbach

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An insurtech with offices in Ontario is looking for commercial and personal lines carriers who want to sell insurance the way Spotify sells music.

“We are talking to several Canadian insurers who have an interest in launching new products” Philippe Lafreniere, the Toronto-based chief growth officer of Slice Labs, said in an interview with Canadian Underwriter.

New York City-based Slice Labs has a research office in Ottawa and a launch studio in Toronto’s financial district.

One of Slice’s Canadian carrier partners is the Co-operators Group Ltd., which uses Slice Cloud Services for duuo, announced in September, 2018. Duuo provides insurance for home-sharing hosts who rent their properties from sites like Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO.

Another Slice Labs partner is AXA-XL, which launched this past October a cyber insurance product for small and mid-sized businesses in the United States. That product is intended to allow U.S. businesses to buy a cyber policy in minutes.

“What we are all about is: How do we bring the Uber- Netflix-Spotify-Amazon experience to insurance markets?” Lafreniere told Canadian Underwriter. “We are looking to partner with insurers who understand that the traditional way of doing things doesn’t work in the digital world. You cannot say you are digital and present an application form with 30 questions. That just doesn’t work. People don’t even know the answers. You are not going to get accurate data.”

Duuo underwrites a policy based on the client’s name and address, said Lafreniere.

By contract, the traditional home policy asks more detailed questions. “What is the pitch of your roof?” Lafreniere said by way of example during an interview at Slice Labs’ Toronto launch studio. “Are you 300 metres from a fire hydrant?

“What history shows is, that’s a process that has a lot of friction. Our goal is to take friction out of the process.”

Duuo is intended to cover risks (such as vandalism and liquor liability) of renting out one’s home by the night as if it’s a hotel. Duuo says it charges clients only for time in which they need the home-sharing coverage.

“Any product where they want to play with time – that fits the duuo model – essentially fits on the Slice platform,” said Lafreniere. “If you imagine an auto product where you can do insurance in time slices, then that product would fit that model.”

Commercial insurance for special events also fits this model, he said.

“If someone says ‘I am a mixologist and I am hosting this event’ and I find out I need to have a liability policy, I can’t go online and find one of those easily. It’s a traditional paper-based process with a broker or agent who will have a long turnaround cycle,” said Lafreniere.




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