Dateline: Madison, Wis. (Feb. 7, 2014)
The basic facts: AssureStart, a Seattle-based start-up direct company that sells small business insurance on the Internet, opened for business last month in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Owned primarily by American Family Insurance, AssureStart opened in Texas in November 2013 and now is in three states. The company will serve the remaining U.S. states in the coming years.
Business model: AssureStart's niche is small businesses (up to 25 employees) who prefer to shop for and buy business insurance online. Products are underwritten by an American Family Insurance subsidiary (Midvale Indemnity).
Historical relevance: It's believed only one other insurer offers similar business insurance products online.
Product offerings: Initially will provide businessowners policies (BOP) that meet the general liability insurance and property insurance coverage needs of small businesses. AssureStart will later expand to include workers compensation insurance and commercial automobile insurance policies.
Why a small business should consider AssureStart: Smaller companies with rather straightforward business insurance needs benefit from lower costs associated with the direct approach, along with ease and convenience of doing business online.
Why this makes sense for American Family Insurance: AssureStart allows the company to serve a different segment of customers who want to use direct channels to handle their small business insurance needs. Agents remain American Family's primary distribution channel, but this is about providing options to meet all customer preferences.
CEO bio: Prior to forming AssureStart, CEO Mike LaRocco held leadership roles at Firemen's Fund Insurance Company, Safeco, GEICO and Progressive. Mike holds a B.S. degree from The Ohio State University and an M.B.A. from the University of Tampa.
AssureStart quote: "Online direct is a smart option for many small businesses, and AssureStart's staff is trained to help them to meet their commercial insurance needs." – Mike LaRocco, CEO, AssureStart
Mike LaRocco, AssureStart CEO
Peter Gunder, American Family Insurance executive vice president
American Family quote: "If there's one thing we've learned over the years, customers will gravitate toward the providers that serve them when, where and how they want to be served. American Family agents continue to meet the needs of larger, more complex businesses. AssureStart is designed to serve very small businesses that prefer to buy products through direct channels." Peter Gunder, executive vice president, American Family Insurance
Previous announcement: www.amfam.com/press-releases/archives.asp?article=2013-1104
About American Family: American Family Insurance offers auto insurance, homeowners insurance, life insurance, business and farm/ranch insurance in 19 states. American Family is the nation’s third-largest mutual property/casualty insurance company and ranks 393rd on the Fortune 500 list. Web: www.amfam.com; Facebook: www.facebook.com/amfam; Twitter: www.twitter.com/amfam; YouTube: www.youtube.com/amfam.
At the end of 2012, American Family reported policyholder equity of $6.1 billion, with assets of $17.9 billion. The company employs 7,000 people, and sells its products through 3,500 exclusive independent contractor agents.
About AssureStart: Based in Seattle, AssureStart provides business owner’s insurance policies directly to small business owners with less than 25 employees via its website, www.assurestart.com, which features a proprietary, easy-to-use recommendation engine and the ability to bind coverage online and conveniently download a certificate of insurance. AssureStart serves as the managing general agent for policies underwritten by Midvale Indemnity Company, a subsidiary of Madison, Wis.-based American Family Insurance.
News media contacts:
American Family Insurance
Media Relations Director
(608) 242-4100, ext. 30680
American Family Insurance
Media Relations Manager
(608) 242-4100, ext. 32121