CHICAGO – Car insurance startup Clearcover has raised $43 million to expand its business in Illinois and other states, betting that its online platform is more efficient and its policies cheaper than the insurance behemoths.
The trick is in the technology Clearcover was built on, said Kyle Nakatsuji, co-founder and CEO. For instance, three-fifths of claims are handled digitally, which cuts costs, and most policies are sold online, reducing overhead, he said.
“There’s no single point of magic,” Nakatsuji said. “We just said, ‘Look, we’re going to use modern technology to build a company … the way you would if you were building a company in 2017 instead of 1907.’ ”
Large insurers like Bloomington, Ill.-based State Farm and Northbrook, Ill.-based Allstate — which acquired online insurer Esurance in 2011 — have worked to become more efficient through technology in recent years. In some cases, that has resulted in job cuts.
Other car insurance startups are also expanding. Columbus, Ohio-based Root Insurance raised $100 million last summer and secured a valuation of $1 billion. Root sells policies in more than 20 states, including Illinois.
Still, State Farm and Allstate together accounted for more than one-quarter of the private passenger auto insurance market in 2017, according to data collected by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Founded in late 2016, Clearcover so far has only sold policies in California. It plans to launch in Illinois sometime this quarter.
The startup sells policies through its website and partners with other companies to reach customers when they might need to buy car insurance, Nakatsuji said. For example, users might see a Clearcover quote while they are perusing car insurance quote site the Zebra or credit score site Credit Karma.
That tactic saves the startup advertising dollars, said Vic Pascucci III, managing partner at Chicago-based Lightbank, which has invested in Clearcover. It makes more sense than blitzing people with billboards or commercials when car insurance is not at all on their mind, Pascucci said.
“The reality is, people don’t think about [car insurance],” he said. “They don’t care. They have to have it. So why can’t payments be [easy]?”
This is Clearcover’s second round of funding, bringing its total amount of investments raised to $54.5 million. Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises, which owns Kelley Blue Book, led the round.