Latest New Era Capital News
Jun 23, 2021
Honeycomb, a managing general agent (MGA) for commercial real estate insurance, announced its North American launch following a $3.3M million raise. Investors in Honeycomb ( formerly Agilius) include from Phoenix Insurance, New Era Capital Partners, IT-Farm Corp. and NFP Ventures. San Francisco-based Honeycomb aims to change how multi-family property insurance is purchased, underwritten and managed. Itai Ben-Zaken, co-founder and CEO of Honeycomb, maintains that this $22 billion market is currently inefficient and outdated, such that it can take weeks for condominium and homeowner associations, condo owners and landlords purchasing this insurance to receive a quote. “The market is fragmented and lacks transparency and underwriting sophistication, resulting in costly policies and inadequate coverage,” the company says, promising that Honeycomb’s data-driven AI-based underwriting will provide “customized right-priced policies” and rate-quote-bind in minutes. “It’s mind-blowing that personal lines have advanced so much, and commercial is stuck in the past,” said Ben-Zaken. “Insureds purchasing HOA insurance shouldn’t have to deal with manual forms, long underwriting reviews, weeks of waiting, or documents being passed from customer to broker to underwriter and back for every change. That’s where we are changing things. With Honeycomb, there’s no more manual underwriting or lack of quality data points, no more paper forms and no more endless back-and-forth emails.” Honeycomb is currently only available in Illinois but it has plans to expand to five additional states by the end of 2021. It is licensed in 11 stares: Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington. Honeycomb’s California agency license indicates it has appointments from dozens of property/casualty insurance carriers including Ace, American Casualty, Chubb, Continental Casualty, Golden Eagle, Great Northern, Ohio Casualty, Pacific Employers, Peerless Insurance, Philadelphia Indemnity, Spinnaker Insurance, Travelers and Westchester Fire and Vigilant Insurance. Honeycomb is partnering with brokers across the U.S., so customers have the option of purchasing insurance through an agent or directly on its website. Online customers receive real-time competitive options after answering a few questions. They can bind the policy immediately and have up to seven days to complete the remote inspection through the Honeycomb app by taking pictures of the building structure and key risk-indicative elements inside the premises. Post-purchase, the app provides risk mitigation recommendations, as well as a digital claims process. Co-founders of the company include Manny Rios, former CEO at American Modern and chief underwriting officer at USAA. Rios serves as chief underwriting officer for Honeycomb. In 2002, when it was named Agillus, the firm won first place at InsurTech NY’s 2020 startup competition out of 200 companies. NFP Ventures, started by insurance broker NFP, agrees the multi-family market could use improvement, especially for smaller accounts. “The U.S. multi-family property insurance is one of the most wildly inefficient insurance markets,” said Adam Blumencranz, vice president, NFP Ventures. “Complex policies, too small to justify thorough manual underwriting practices, lead to broad-brush risk assessment where many insurers restrict coverage based on region or building age.” Blumencranz said Honeycomb seeks to corrects this with AI-based underwriting that simplifies shopping for customized insurance for all building types. The platform’s risk management offerings also “allow brokers to have more frequent and meaningful engagement with customers over the lifetime of a policy,” he added.