Breathing new life into industry's distribution platform

by James Burton05 Mar 2019

Breathe Life has raised $4.5 million to grow its business and bring a modern digital distribution platform to life and health insurance professionals.

The company powers carriers, distribution organizations and advisors with white-label solutions to quickly and cost-effectively find and convert new customers.

And it believes the distribution of individual insurance products in North America, such as life, critical illness, disability, and travel remains largely unchanged since the industry’s inception, with long sales cycles and a focus on higher-net-worth individuals leading to a steady decline in the purchase of new policies.

The result? Millions of middle-market customers are exposed and millions of dollars in insurance revenue are untapped.

Ian Jeffrey, CEO, told LHP that consumer buying habits – especially among millennials – have change with the times and said what drives the firm is to “secure as many people on the planet as possible”.

He believes it can bridge this gap by modernizing how companies distribute their products – both directly and through their advisor networks – to reach a much broader potential customer base.

He said: “The thing that drives us at Breathe Life is really providing financial security to those that don’t have it today. Often, that is millennials who are not being talked to because of the nature of how competition works for advisors, who are incentivised to focus on higher-net-worth individuals.

“But these young people still need protection. They are having children, buying houses and all these things – some of them could suffer big time if something happens to them.”

Jeffrey also said the industry has to adapt to how millennials want to buy the products and said that having someone coming to their house to take a urine sample, for example, is way too intrusive and overkill given their age and likely good health.

He said: “Through technology and data online we are able to service that market with the help of our insurance partners and carriers in a way that is much more seamless. We don’t need to have a bloodtest and urine sample because they are buying small policies and they are typically healthy, so it’s OK to take that risk.

“It’s a combination of who we are targeting, the way they want to buy and that appetite for carriers to distribute it and bring that new generation into their environment. It’s a very powerful mix for advisors and for insurance providers.”

The targeted aspect of what Breathe Life can provide generates leads for advisors and allows them to hone in on the segment of the market they want. Jeffrey believes part of his firm’s mission is to enable advisors to provide the human element to selling this product, providing things like microsites linked from business cards, for example.

He said: “We don’t think the role of the advisor is going anywhere - the human component of selling this type of product is really, really important. People are buying something that is going to have a massive impact on their lives and is going to cost a lot of money over time, so just having someone to support them in that decision is really important.

“But we do think the role of the advisor will change. It will change because of technology and that is what we are trying to bring to the advisors, leveraging everything that technology enables in order for them to sell better and potentially sell to markets they are not selling to today.”