This Austin startup wants to make workers’ comp more accessible

by Kelly O'Halloran
February 11, 2019
cerity team
photo credit: brio photography

For a small-business owner to secure workers’ compensation insurance, it often takes a series of phone calls with an agent and a lengthy questionnaire, sometimes 100 questions deep. The entire process to approval can take days; sometimes weeks.

Hello, time suck.

But with the help of a new, Austin-based insurance tech company, business owners can kiss goodbye the phone tag, tedious applications and endless wait times.

We feel like we’ve done something different to modernize the needs for small business owners.”

 

Called Cerity, the startup hooks small businesses up with workers’ comp plans in as little as five minutes through a seamless online experience.

“Everything that we have done from the front end to the back end has been designed and orchestrated with the customer in mind to make it easy for them to transact,” said Dennis Dix, SVP and chief operating officer of Cerity.

That means an application with less than 15 questions, no phone calls, no follow-ups, and a policy in hand within the same virtual visit to Cerity’s platform.

“We feel like we’ve done something different to modernize the needs for small-business owners,” said President Tracey Berg.

On top of eliminating the agent layer by working directly with the insurance provider, Cerity assigns rates based on a proprietary model that predicts risk and evaluates pricing based on 100 different tiers. For reference, most insurance companies offer rates at between one and six tiers.

“The insurance industry has offered this approach in the personal space, like auto insurance, for quite a while,” said Dix. “But this is breaking ground in the workers’ compensation space.”

One of the reasons Cerity is able to offer flexible pricing is because of the mountains of data its parent company sits upon. That company, Employers Holding, Inc, has been around for over 100 years and owns its own insurance programs.

This relationship has not only given Cerity the resources, data and technology to build its solution; it’s also helped Cerity stand out in a growing competitive market.

This is breaking ground in the workers’ compensation space.”

 

“There have been billions of dollars invested in insurance technology, and this space is no different,” said Dix. “There are several companies that sell workers’ comp online. None of them own an insurance company like we do, so they don’t have the flexibility that we have to control the front end and the back end of the process.”

Founded in 2018, Cerity has quickly scaled from four people to a team of 30, with about 23 headquartered in town. Its policies are currently live in Illinois and will likely expand to all 47 eligible states over time.

“The data that we’ve seen suggests that roughly a quarter of small or micro businesses don’t have workers’ comp or insurance,” said Dix. “We believe that there are three factors that drive that. One is that it’s difficult for them to obtain workers comp through traditional process. They also don’t understand the value of it, and they think it’s cost-prohibitive. Cerity was built to address these concerns. The process doesn’t have to be difficult.”

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