Interview with our CEO - HZInsuance

Interview with our CEO - HZInsuance
Matthias Niklowitz
3 m read
Interview with our CEO - HZInsuance

Ms Prieto, what exactly does your company Emilian do?

Prieto: We are working to democratize insurance distribution. We do that by giving small insurance companies and insurance brokers no-code tools to sell insurance policies easily, transparently and affordably.

Would you describe yourself as a disruptor?

Prieto: No, we are not a disruptor. Rather, we are an integrator designed to make things easier for others in the insurance industry. When talking to brokers they often complain about the insular solutions and the lack of communication between systems. With our solution, insurance policies can be distributed more easily and efficiently. Especially in regions where relatively few insurance policies have been sold in the past.

What is your geographical target area?

Prieto: Our software is designed for the international market and is available in four languages: German, English, French and Spanish. We are targeting emerging markets, and will be focusing in the first year on Latin America, where my roots are and where we see great potential.

"Für uns ist die Schweiz unser Kompetenzzentrum für Versicherungen".

Are you also active in Europe and Switzerland?

Prieto: There are small insurance companies, brokers and independent agencies that have neither the large financial resources nor the capacity to build modern software themselves. In Switzerland, we are focusing on supporting insurance brokers and coverholders to distribute insurance for personal lines and SME products.

How did you arrive at your business model?

Prieto: We explored various options before our first prototype was ready in late 2020: we could have chosen to become a licensed insurance broker or a managed general agency (MGA), but we didn't pursue that. We believe in the power of small businesses when they are close to customers. Thus, we opted to become a company that enables tech for them and to develop tools and utilities to help sell insurance simply and transparently by integrating customers into the underwriting process right from the start.

What was the result?

Prieto: We are more flexible in what we do and how we support our clients. For example, in communicating with their end customers, our tool allows brokers and small insurance companies to better explain insurance in their own, preferred terminology (language and tone). Many potential customers are reluctant to buy policies because they lack trust and because they have the impression that they are not given clear information about how policies work. So people can acquire insurance more simply, for their specific needs.

The Swiss market is too small for many tech companies. What is the situation like for you?

For us, Switzerland is our center of excellence for insurance. The high level of sophistication in the Swiss market will ensure that our solution can be scaled to virtually any market in the world.

"The quality of the data transmitted during the traditional process is often not as good as it could be".

The success of your software thus also depends on the data you receive.

Prieto: The quality of data given during the traditional process is often not as good as it could be. Therefore, we decided to integrate the policyholder into the underwriting process very early on when collecting data. We have introduced standardized interfaces with our software to address precisely these weaknesses. Insurance companies and brokers can connect our software to their existing systems via such interfaces.

These are elements that you also find in good CRM systems. What else can your software do?

Prieto: We don't compare ourselves to CRM software; our products are geared differently, as B2B support. Emilian digitises the last mile of insurance distribution, thereby democratizing insurance selling by providing an affordable plug-and-play platform.

Our clients can, in just a matter of minutes, easily generate their plugins and copy-paste them into their websites, social media pages or wherever they want. Thus, they are empowered to collect data from policyholders, generate quote comparisons and provide end consumers with access to an insurance wallet where all their insurance documentation is ready and accessible.

What other prospects does this open up?

Prieto: In a connected world, there are many other opportunities that can be further developed similar to those in the e-commerce world, for example in the way marketplaces work. Other third-party services will be integrated by using Application Programming Interfaces to enlarge insurance product offerings.

Embedded insurance is an important trend. What is the situation with this?

Prieto: Our software could be regarded as embedded insurance, as our plugins can be embedded in any website at the point of sale. For now, we are not offering any integration into a shopping basket as other insurtechs do for ecommerce. We see embedded insurance as conflicting with our vision to bring more transparency for the end consumer. This type of product offering often overlaps with other existing insurance policies bought by the same policyholder, ending up in double-insurance or adding more cost and reducing trust in the transaction.

Do you have customers in Switzerland?

Prieto: Yes, we have customers in Switzerland. We released the first version of our software in February 2021. Since then, we have been enhancing our application and receiving continuous feedback from active users.

Our solution is of great interest to insurance entrepreneurs: small/medium sized businesses that can’t themselves do much more than build their own website to promote their insurance products, but want to stay relevant in the digital age.

When new software is introduced, new processes often have to be adopted, which can trigger resistance from employees. What do you observe?

Prieto: We have had the rewarding experience that this is practically not a problem. In the past, acquiring and processing insurance submission information has been a laborious and time-consuming process, either on the phone or in physical meetings with time spent travelling. To say it in Dr. Osterwalder’s words, our solution is a big pain reliever because that entire process becomes obsolete and sellers can focus on what they enjoy most, namely consulting with the client to offer the right insurance coverage.

So we haven’t had to spend a lot of time convincing customers to change their processes. A new generation of brokers is entering the market and they approach the business differently. Once they buy in, they don't have any problems in adopting our systems. After all, we mustn't forget: Insurance policies have to be actively sold, and brokers want to focus on that.

Another new development is product-service bundles. Where do you stand on this?

Prieto: We are observing the development of customer needs very carefully. When a good percentage of our customers say they need that, then we will build the features. In any case, we already have that on the roadmap.

How big is your company at the moment?

Prieto: We have nine employees. In addition, we have other people with whom we collaborate. The development work is taking place in Europe.

Where are you with financing?

Prieto: We are happy to announce that we have completed our first financial round of investment, which is in the high six-figure range. We want to use the money to strengthen the team, onboard customers already on the waiting list and for further expansion steps.

And what does your roadmap and exit strategy look like?

Prieto: First, we aim to win more customers. And then we will further develop other elements of the platform so that it becomes a complete two-sided platform, bringing together insurance suppliers and insurance consumers. Our focus will continue to be on the distribution of non-life insurance business. It is too early today to talk about an exit strategy as our focus and energy is on building the business and achieving our vision.

Free translation by Zulma Prieto

Original interview only available in German