Business / Startups

Williamsburg’s PolicyGenius to provide digital #realtalk about insurance needs

A new web service offers personalized guidance in life, renters and pet insurance, with longterm disability coming soon.

PolicyGenius team photo. (Courtesy of PolicyGenius)

PolicyGenius has been working for seven months to build Insurance Checkup, its first product, which is geared both to help consumers hit the right level of insurance coverage and generate leads for insurance companies, according to PandoDaily.

We reached out to the Williamsburg-based company, which started in Manhattan but moved to Brooklyn as it grew. Jennifer Fitzgerald, a former McKinsey consultant and one of its cofounders, told us that she had no interest in moving back to Manhattan.

At its core, the team sees the insurance industry as failing to reach digital consumers. Fizgerald told us, “Your readers might be surprised to learn that the insurance industry is incredibly old-fashioned — a lot of business is still done over the phone or with fax machines.” So PolicyGenius is building recommendation and pricing engines, alternately gathering up data itself or building APIs that insurance industry partners can use.

While the priority was always digital, the startup has made its minimum viable product on paper to test it.

PolicyGenius would have early users fill out a questionnaire and then make a PowerPoint report to share the results of their “insurance check-up.”

“We got great feedback from those early users: we learned that people will actually read a lot of text if the content is thoughtful and that an insurance to-do list (which is part of our current checkup experience) is a real ‘a-ha’ moment for people,” Fitzgerald said, “With those insights, we felt confident about investing the resources to develop a fully online insurance checkup.”

Fitzgerald told us that the companies goal is to become the go-to source of information for digital insurance customers. It’s not in every category of insurance yet but it’s still early days. From PandoDaily:

PolicyGenius claims to give transparent, unbiased purchasing tips without pushing anything you don’t need. “If you talk to an insurance agent about life insurance,” Fitzgerald says, “they’ll try to sell it to you and they’ll try to sell you permanent life insurance which is like ten times as expensive. And for 90% of the people who need life insurance, they should just get basic term life which is like one-eighth of the monthly cost. So we only sell term life insurance and we’re very transparent why, even though we could make a lot more money if we tried to push permanent insurance on folks.”

PolicyGenius is presently a team of five (plus two interns, at the moment). The company may be looking to hire more people in the fall, Fitzgerald said.

We asked her if she had any trepidation about putting “Genius” in the name as a company in the same neighborhood, for now, as Genius (formerly Rap Genius). “The risk of anyone confusing the two companies is probably pretty negligible,” she said. However, she does have some opinions about naming a startup (if you’re in the middle of naming your startup, we recommend her naming criteria table in the post).

Learn more about Insurance Checkup in this video:

Series: Brooklyn

Before you go...

Please consider supporting Technical.ly to keep our independent journalism strong. Unlike most business-focused media outlets, we don’t have a paywall. Instead, we count on your personal and organizational support.

Our services Preferred partners The journalism fund

Join our growing Slack community

Join 5,000 tech professionals and entrepreneurs in our community Slack today!


Get a snapshot of Baltimore's latest housing, job and business trends with this new easy-access tool

Technically Media