This interview is part of our Future of Fintech Series where we interview disrupters in fintech. Rashmi Melgiri is the co-founder and COO of CoverWallet.com. They’ve raised over $9.8MM to disrupt how small businesses deal with insurance. Their goal is simple: “Manage all my policies online, all in one place.”
I was interested in Rashmi’s story and her thoughts about the future of fintech. I’ll be the first to admit that “insurtech” isn’t the most exciting, but I do firmly believe this is an industry that can really benefit from innovation from the ground up.
Any startup that can create a customer experience that benefits end users and insurers can truly make a big impact.
Here is my interview with Rashmi Melgiri:
How did you come up with the idea of CoverWallet?
I co-founded CoverWallet with my friend, Inaki Berenguer, in 2015 after we saw firsthand the difficulties businesses face when it comes to managing insurance. The company Inaki was working for at the time was trying to close a deal, but first needed to provide their certificate of insurance and full policy.
The company’s agent was out of the office for a few days, and no one could get a hold of him. Inaki and I looked around and found that this is a common difficulty businesses face, and there was a clear opportunity to create a simple digital experience.
We started CoverWallet with the vision of creating a solution we would want as business owners, and have since built an innovative product that can save millions of businesses time and money.
Why hasn’t this problem been solved yet for small businesses? It seems that this problem has been around for decades.
The commercial insurance industry has traditionally focused on sourcing customers through a network of local agents, which captures around 80% of the market.
The opaqueness of information available to business owners has benefited this system as it creates a dependency on the institutional knowledge of the agent.
There hasn’t been a significant effort to help businesses understand how individual policies work to serve their needs, though “getting covered” can involve particular combinations of the dozens of policies available.
How does this affect the traditional broker-driven insurance model? Is your end goal to have your technology be the broker?
While we have new capabilities for small businesses, such as our management platform which lets you track first- and third-party policy information, CoverWallet also acts as a digital broker. This means that through our online platform, you can be quoted and bind a policy online.
In regard to the future of insurtech, what technologies do you think will be dominant 5 years from now?
The $100B U.S. small-business insurance market is on the verge of a big paradigm shift. Business owners are beginning to expect to deal with insurance online, in the same way they use consumer-friendly online technologies to deal with banking, payroll, accounting, or sales.
The dominant process currently used by many businesses involves a platform change for each step of the process – research online, purchase in-person, information requests via phone or fax, and tracking policy and certificate information through spreadsheets. We envision an online single-point solution becoming the norm.
How will this product fit in those technologies? (AI, automation, blockchain, etc…)
When we began digging into small-business insurance, we were surprised to find how difficult and non-integrated the entire process was. The solution we created with CoverWallet therefore connects a business owner through every stage of the insurance process.
We’ve created a resource library and advice tool to help business owners understand their risks and corresponding coverage recommendations. This ties into our digital quoting experience that we’ve partnered with top carriers to create.
And our insurance management platform allows you to manage policy information, request certificates, update business information, and track partner insurance information. Our platform is actually available for those businesses that work with other brokers as well.
What opportunities would you like to explore with updated versions of the product?
Our platform has made it simple for many business owners to get a quote and purchase insurance online, but there are still a variety of scenarios that are currently deemed too complex to handle without an offline component.
We’re working with carriers, using our expertise in big data and UI/UX to significantly increase the number of businesses for which an online solution is available.
Most people feel that insurance is pretty boring. How are you going to convince small business owners that they need this?
Convincing small business owners isn’t the issue, as around 70% of business owners search for and try to purchase insurance online. Instead, we’ve focused on building the best digital experience that meets all the needs a customer expects.
How important is the user experience to helping your end users get the concierge service they need?
Providing a positive user experience is a core focus for us at CoverWallet, and we try to incorporate a user-first mindset into all our processes.
We are constantly tracking interactions with our online platform and iterating in order to make our tools as simple and intuitive as possible. In addition, we’ve invested in making sure that if a visitor has a particularly complex situation, the transfer to our team of licensed experts is as seamless as possible.
Rashmi Melgiri is the co-founder and COO of CoverWallet, an insurtech startup focused on simplifying insurance for small businesses. Before founding CoverWallet, Rashmi was a strategy consultant at the largest North American TMT consulting group, Altman and Vilandrie & Co. She has worked with a number of startups, including Visible Measures and portfolio companies within Comcast Interactive Media. She has a bachelor’s degree from MIT and an MBA from MIT Sloan.