About a year ago, one of Darren Nix’s rental properties burned down. From the ashes came Steadily, an insurtech startup that allows landlords to purchase insurance over the phone without going through an agent.
On Thursday, Nix’s Austin company announced it raised $3.8 million in funding led by Matrix Partners. Nix said he plans to invest the cash on expanding the company’s reach and developing its tech systems.
“I just had this itch in the back of my brain like, ‘Man, buying insurance for this property feels a lot like what I think buying car insurance felt like in the ’90s before Geico,’” Nix told Built In. “I was like, ‘This should work this way.’”
On Thursday, Steadily emerged from stealth, offering landlords policies for both short-term — think Airbnb hosts — and long-term rentals that stretch more than six months.
The startup is currently licensed to operate in 45 states, and works with carrier partners to bring their existing policies to market. By automatically filling in data points around property size and age, Steadily claims to reduce the time needed to purchase insurance from days to minutes. Its app also allows applicants to verify property conditions after a bid has been issued, allowing a property manager to use their phone camera to, say, verify the number of fire extinguishers on site and purchase more through Steadily as a way to lower their existing premiums.
“None of it is sexy,” Nix said. “It’s just really simple things like, ‘Hey we want to keep your building from burning down. You want to keep your building from burning down. Let’s figure out how to make that happen.’”
In the next month or so, Steadily aims to expand its reach across the United States, with the ultimate aim of becoming a managing general agent, or a full-stack insurance service that handles claims, underwrites risk, prices policies and more. The startup is developing Internet of Things devices — like water sensors that can be placed under washing machines to instantly detect leaks — that Nix hopes can reduce the amount issued in claims and further reduce the price of insurance premiums.
The five-person company plans to grow to 20 by the end of next year, and is hiring for software engineers, product development professionals and senior insurance roles. Nix’s previous company, the HR startup Interviewed, was acquired by Indeed in 2017 for an undisclosed sum.
This funding comes on the heels of an insurtech boom, with many insurance startups with Austin ties recently receiving investment.
In September, the Austin-based Sana Benefits raised $20.8 million to provide self-funded health insurance plans for small businesses; in July, the Palo Alto-based Hippo Insurance raised $150 million in Series E funding, with plans to invest the cash in opening a new Austin office; and the Austin-based AgencyKPI platform for insurance agents raised $5 million in late June.
Nix said the recent wave of investor interest represents a natural progression of the insurance industry. Five years ago, Nix said re-insurance companies like Munich Re began to back early stage insurtech startups, offering them access to their multibillion-dollar balance sheets so they had the cash they needed to price their own risk policies. These startups have since matured their business, he said.
“You could start up your company without having to park most of the equity that you’ve raised in a trust account,” Nix said. “That backing is what enabled all the insurtech startups to get going.”