know about this Integrated insurance: what does the future hold?
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“Integrated insurance is going to be the biggest distribution channel in 10 years,” he said. “It’s hard for me to imagine the status quo [remaining] where the integrated distribution is less than 2% or less than 5% of the market, and most people buy their insurance from a local agent or respond to a billboard, or something like that. Those distribution channels are very expensive for insurers.”
Trellis debuted in 2019 and is based in Salem, NH. It has approximately 70 full-time equivalent employees on staff (a mix of full-time and part-time employees). The company has raised $17 million to date, including an investment from Amex Ventures announced in mid-May.
Trellis is centered around its Savvy digital recommendation API platform, which enables consumers to instantly compare and purchase auto insurance within a partner’s app or website. Consumers, using their insurance login, can compare their existing policy with potential alternatives side by side. They can also use the site to purchase a different plan and cancel the old one.
Consumers could end up using the platform embedded in a banking app or through a car dealership, Demetri said.
“It’s about integration in places where the consumer is already, so they don’t have to come to us directly,” he explained.
The company’s membership rate grew substantially over the past year and Trellis said the number now includes four of the top five digital-only banks and seven of the top 50 mobile finance apps, including Truebill and Albert. Trellis has also seen rapid growth in monthly users, with over nine million having visited the platform so far. The company said it has also securely connected approximately one million user accounts to date and those users have saved around $60 million and counting, according to its Amex Ventures investment announcement.
Trellis technology includes APIs, which are crucial to the consumer onboarding process.
“The key technology is the ability to share your existing insurance information with us in one step of just your login,” said Demetri. “That’s a technology we built in-house and it enables a very seamless experience due to a complex set of API integrations.”
The second key element is the recommendation algorithm, which Demetri explained relies on machine learning to explore comparative costs.
“We need to balance those costs while still finding you the best price…. dynamically buying for you in a way that isn’t just asking for quotes from everyone,” said Demetri. “Basically, it’s about predicting who will find the quote…we’ve virtualized and automated that by using machine learning.”
The third element, according to Demetri, involves more API integrations taking APIs from insurers who want their products to be sold on integrated platforms like the Trellis platform. These allow direct and fluid comparisons so that clients do not have to consult with an insurer at the same time.
Integrations, simple or complex
A trellis integration can vary a lot in terms of time investment, Demetri noted.
“What we learned is that we often have to crawl, walk or run with our clients and our partners,” he said.
The simplest option for a partner/customer is to place a link on their website or app that links to a landing page or website that Trellis would host. Full integration takes more time, where Trellis will, in part, give the client all of their APIs so that they can send Trellis their consumption data.
“Integrating our APIs, pushing…first-party data, which is the data your bank already has about you in the system, is really the first step,” Demetri said.
The second step involves removing the quotes.
“Our recommendation engine might say you need to change your coverage or switch to this insurer or you need to consider this action, and then they have to show that insight and those recommendations to the consumer,” a process that needs to be coded and configured, Demetri said.
Step three considers the notion that consumers are looking for a change in insurance and taking steps to make it happen.
“In fact, we give our partners the ability to allow the consumer to change their environment,” said Demetri. “If partners want to, they can also use our APIs and give us credit card information, for example, so we can set up automatic payment for the new policy.”
If customers choose to simply link to a custom website created by Trellis, the process can take up to an hour. If it’s the most complex version, the onboarding and multiple phases can take two to three months. There is an intermediate version that can take three to four weeks, Demetri said.