Apr 19, 2022 - 3 Min read
When Emma expanded from a broker to building its own insurance products, “everything started clicking.”
Apr 19, 2022 - 3 Min read
Montréal-based Emma wants to make it easier for Canadians to access life insurance coverage.
After establishing a presence in Québec and Ontario, Emma has secured $6 million CAD in Series A financing from Luge Capital, Investissement Québec, and Tactico to take its insurance offerings across Canada. In an interview with BetaKit, Emma co-founder and CEO Félix Deschatelets said the insurtech startup also plans to use the capital to build a slew of new insurance products.
“The market [is] so big, and there are so many customers that don’t have any life insurance.”
-Felix Deschatelets, Emma CEO
Founded in 2017 by Deschatelets, his brother Jacomo—the company’s CMO—and CTO Guillaume Plante, Emma sells a mix of its own insurance products, as well as some offerings from other providers through its website and app. This approach enables the startup to connect its customers to a wider range of insurance types, and cover a broader base of needs. Emma’s own insurance products are underwritten by Québec life and health insurance company Humania Assurance.
Emma’s all-equity Series A round, which closed in March, saw Luge, Investissement Québec, and Tactico each invest $2 million into the startup. The raise brings Emma’s total funding to just over $7 million.
The startup got its start as a broker selling other insurance company products through its platform before realizing that many existing insurance products weren’t the right fit for its customers or were too difficult to sell quickly and easily online. Emma decided to start building its own life insurance products in late 2019.
“Then everything started clicking for our business,” said Deschatelets. “As a broker, [it] was too hard and [the customer acquisition cost] was too high.”
Since Emma participated in the inaugural cohort of the Intuit Prosperity Accelerator in 2020, the company has experienced more than 500 percent growth. Deschatelets attributes much of this growth to the launch of its life insurance product that year, which does not discriminate against pregnant women.
Luge General Partner David Nault said the firm was attracted to Emma’s “modern approach” to insurance. “Their growth and reviews convinced us that they are onto something big,” said Nault.
Today, Emma offers its own term life insurance and whole life insurance products, as well as a child rider on these life insurance policies. The startup also serves as a broker, connecting users to a wide range of other offerings, such as car, home, and pet insurance.
The startup, which sees room to grow by targeting young Canadian families who are first-time insurance buyers, does not require medical exams, blood tests, or urine tests. After discovering that it was tougher for pregnant women to access life insurance, Emma also decided to remove all restrictions related to pregnancy from the buying process.
“It’s the biggest difference in our offering,” said Deschatelets. “Pregnant women will never be refused for pregnancy. If they are refused, it’s for something else.”
Emma isn’t the only Canadian insurtech startup focused on the life insurance space. Just over a year ago, Toronto-based PolicyMe rolled out its own family-focused digital life insurance product. However, Deschatelets claims Emma was the first company in Canada to roll out its own digital life insurance product, as the startup launched its offering in early 2020.
Deschatelets says Emma’s main competitors are other online insurance companies like PolicyMe. But the CEO isn’t worried about a little competition. “The market [is] so big, and there are so many customers that don’t have any life insurance,” said Deschatelets, adding that approximately 30 percent of Canadians don’t carry life insurance at all.
Given that Emma also serves as a broker that offers insurance products from other providers, Deschatelets described big Canadian insurance companies as “co-petitors.”
“We offer their products, and we work with them in the innovation process in order to make their products more accessible online,” said Deschatelets, who added that many of these firms typically cater to older audiences. “We’re not really competing against them.”
According to Deschatelets, the average age of customers buying life insurance online in Canada is around 40. Conversely, the average age of Emma’s customers is 29. “We’re usually able to acquire a customer 10 years younger than the competition,” claims Deschatelets, who credits the startup’s marketing focus on young families. The CEO said 70 percent of its clients are women, and about 90 percent either have a baby or are pregnant.
Tactico founder and Managing Director Liam Cheung is joining Emma’s board as part of the round. Cheung described Emma as a natural fit for Tactico given that it leverages the firm’s FinTech expertise and B2C experience.
“As with our investments in Moka/Mogo and Willful, Emma is well placed to provide the best experience for a new generation of consumers and has the positioning to provide the insurance-buying experience they demand,” Cheung told BetaKit.
In response to customer demand, Emma plans to launch some other products, such as a will platform, which could place it into competition with fellow Tactico portfolio firm Willful. To support its product and geographic expansion strategy, Emma plans to double its 15-person team.
For now, Emma remains “very focused” on Québec and Ontario. But Deschatelets said the startup hopes to have its insurance products available in all of Canada’s provinces and territories by “June and July.” To get there, Deschatelets said the company simply needs to complete its license applications for other Canadian jurisdictions. “A lot of the groundwork is already made,” he added.