Right or wrong, many people view insurance companies with suspicion. Even though you pay them money every month for protection, you’re not really sure if they are truly on your side (despite what the commercial says). The problem is that with most insurance companies, any money they don’t pay you ends up in their pocket. The incentives are not aligned. Will they find a reason to deny your claim? Recall the Insuricare scene from the movie The Incredibles.
Lemonade is a new insurance company that takes a flat cut upfront, and the rest is put aside to payout claims. They are starting out with homeowner’s and renter’s insurance. The specific breakdown is below.
- 20% to Lemonade.
- 40% into a pool to pay out for claims (or charity).
- 40% to reinsurance in case that pool is exhausted (catastrophic cases).
Reinsurance is basically what is sounds like – insurance for insurance companies. This provides additional safety that there will be money to pay out your claim in cases of catastrophic losses (i.e. certain natural disasters). Examples of reinsurance companies are Lloyd’s of London and Berkshire Hathaway.
If there are fewer claims than expected, Lemonade will donate the money to a charity of your choice. Therefore, they have no direct incentive to deny a valid claim. In turn, hopefully their customers will also not make false claims because they will only be taking money away from charities and not the big bad insurance company. When signing up, you even take a “honesty pledge”.
Here’s how behavioral economist Dan Ariely, who is their “Chief Behavioral Officer”, puts it:
Knowing that every dollar denied to you in claims is a dollar more to your insurer, brings out the worst in us all… Since we don’t pocket unclaimed money, we can be trusted to pay claims fast and hassle-free. As for our customers, knowing fraud harms a cause they believe in, rather than an insurance company they don’t, brings out their better nature too. Everyone wins.
Lemonade is also structured as a Public Benefit Corporation (B-Corp), which makes it the “World’s Only Public Benefit Insurance Company”.
Lemonade also saves money with the usual tech start-up tricks. No human salespeople. No brokers. No physical branches. Apply online. File your claim online. Use the website or slick smartphone app (iOS and Android). The app has a chat-based AI interface, just like all the current cool kids. If you have to file a claim, you can take a video of the damage using your smartphone explaining the situation.
As of right now, Lemonade is only available in New York state. However, they have filed for insurance licenses in 46 additional states (the remaining 3 states have statutory wait times). If you live in the state of New York, get a free quote from Lemonade for homeowner’s insurance for as little as $35 a month and renter’s insurance starting at $5 a month.