Lemonade: Disrupting Insurance with Instant Everything, Killer Prices, and a Big Heart
Launching its first products in the fall of 2016 in New York, insurtech startup Lemonade was on a mission to disrupt the insurance market by using AI and behavioral economics principles. The company offered renters, homeowners and condo insurance and mainly targeted millennial, tech-savvy individuals with relatively few assets- customers who were less attractive to traditional insurers who had costly, labor-intensive, operations. By offering a delightful, bot-driven consumer experience, embracing a model that removed any incentive to deny claims and that let customers pick causes to donate leftover money to, building a loveable brand, and employing creative digital advertising - the company was able to grow at an impressive pace. By the end of 2018, Lemonade was active in 24 U.S. states, had insured 425,000 customers and was expecting sales (gross premiums) of over $57 million. In an effort to sustain the spectacular growth momentum, the co-founders sought to pursue ambitious plans in 2019, including the launch of new insurance product lines as well as international expansion. But limited resources and scarce management bandwidth suggested that taking on both moves simultaneously could be highly risky. In deciding which path to take, the leadership team had to consider whether it was more important at this stage to scale globally with the current product lineup or to cover a breadth of insurance categories and stay in the U.S. for now. Assessing the relevance of the business model and the role of AI for each of these moves, understanding the nature of consumers in different markets, and foreseeing competitive pressures from both incumbents and startups were key in making the right call.