This week we chatted with Joe Schmidt, VP of Business Development at Ethos, the leading provider of next-generation life insurance. For most employers, life insurance is a perennial part of the employee benefits package. But historically it has been expensive and hard for employees to understand how much coverage they need.
Ethos set out to change this by offering employers and individuals simpler, more affordable life insurance with honest advice and same day coverage. In the process they’ve raised over $400M and earned a $2.7B valuation from top-shelf investors such as SoftBank, General Catalyst, Sequoia Capital, Accel, GV, Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, Glade Brook Capital Partners, Will Smith and Robert Downey Jr.
An early bet on insurtech
After leading Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish on the football field, Joe landed in venture capital at Accel, where he made an early bet on the insurtech space. After leading an early investment in Ethos he found himself so passionate about their mission that he eventually joined the team. Today he leads Ethos’ business development practice and was happy to sit down with us to chat about what makes Ethos’ offering different and superior to traditional life insurance policies.
Today’s challenges in life insurance
Like many insurance products, life insurance has been around a long time, but it hasn’t experienced meaningful innovation until recently. Even though life insurance is a really active part of the benefits portfolio, the plans themselves haven’t changed much in recent years.
Historically, it has been difficult for people to apply for and buy life insurance. The process for someone getting coverage outside of the workplace took 10-15 weeks and included medical exams. That made it difficult to get plans and difficult to sell them. If you want to buy-up life insurance at work, that can also be difficult, and it takes a lot of time and paperwork to go through the process.
Plus it’s tough for employees to understand the product offerings. Many employees aren’t confident that they have the right amount of life insurance, which can lead to inappropriate coverage and dissatisfaction with their plan.
How Ethos is different
Ethos is a mission-driven company working to protect families with life insurance that’s easy and affordable. For starters, they did away with the medical exam and instead they use data to evaluate the applicant’s risk in minutes. A simple online form is all it takes to sign up. Plus, they offer honest advice so employees can feel confident that they’ve purchased the right amount of coverage for their family’s needs. The approach has worked and they’re growing quickly.
“We are always looking to protect the next million families.” - Joe Schmidt
What’s next for Ethos
While Ethos has a direct to consumer offering, they believe in the power of the broker channel and employer-sponsored coverage as an important growth channel. People are naturally thinking about life insurance during open enrollment, as part of their benefit package. So that is where Ethos wants to be, ready to help them get the insurance they need and a better experience that employers can appreciate, too. The next few years will be all about getting this great solution in people’s hands through employer and strategic partnerships.
To hear more insights from Joe, including how the pandemic has influenced the life insurance industry, listen to Episode 24 of Better Benefits now. If you enjoy the episode, don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform.
Joe’s Recommended Resource
On every episode of Better Benefits, we ask our expert guests for a book or resource they’d recommend to others working in the benefits space. This week, Joe told us about two books: It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques From the Best Damn Ship in the Navy by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff and War As I Knew It by General George S. Patton. Both books offer insight into applying proven military strategies in the business world. Joe credits some of his favorite lessons to learning from leaders in other industries and applying their innovations and techniques in the insurtech space.
Visit the Ethos website if you’d like to learn more about Ethos and get in touch with Joe.
Note, this episode is for informational and educational purposes only. Joe Schmidt and Ethos are not endorsed, affiliated with, nor compensated by Greenhouse Life Insurance Company.