Breathe Life gets $4.5 million to modernize life insurance


Breathe Life, a provider of digital solutions for the online insurance industry, has raised $4.5 million in a seed round led by Diagram Ventures with participation from Real Ventures.

The company was cofounded by Ian Jeffrey, who previously cofounded and served as the first general manager of the FounderFuel accelerator program in Montreal. The business powers life and health insurance carriers, distribution organizations, and advisors with solutions to quickly and more cost-effectively find and convert new customers.

Basically, Breathe Life has set out to tackle the “middle market” of life insurance consumers, which has traditionally been a long-ignored part of the industry. In fact, says Jeffrey, the industry hasn’t really changed since its inception over 100 years ago.

The sales lifecycle for reaching and converting consumers is lengthy and burdensome. In more recent times, this has pushed advisors and carriers to focus on high-income customers because profit margins are higher. Therefore, millennials, most of whom fall into the middle-market, have been largely underserved.

Jeffrey said Breathe Life’s vision is to bring financial peace of mind and security to millions, first by transforming the way personal insurance is bought and sold today. To do that, he and his team built a distribution and management platform that delivers a modern and customer-centric experience which, he says, is “reshaping the insurance industry.”

“The life insurance industry faces distribution challenges as more consumers expect a fast and seamless digital buying experience,” said Jeffrey. “At the same time, the opportunity for providers to target and engage with consumers on their own terms has never been greater. Breathe Life helps distributors tap into vast and underserved markets.”

Jeffrey added that the company is partnering with carriers, distribution organizations and advisors to transform how they work. Breathe Life will move them from a lengthy, offline process to a completely digital one. 

Breathe Life’s big niche is within the distribution of individual insurance products in North America, such as life, critical illness, disability, and travel, which the company says has remained largely unchanged. Long sales cycles and a focus on higher-net-worth individuals have led to a steady decline in the purchase of new policies, leaving millions of “middle-market” customers exposed, and millions of dollars in insurance revenue left on the table.

Moreover, consumer buying habits – especially among millennials – have changed dramatically, contributing to the widening gap between providers and potential customers.

Breathe Life says it bridges this gap by modernizing how companies distribute their products – both directly and through their advisor networks – to reach a much broader potential customer base.

In just over one year of operation, the company says it has gained significant traction with insurance providers. Customer and investor, National Bank, said it experience an 18 percent increase in sales and a 26 percent increase in first-year premiums while decreasing the cost of customer acquisition by 33 percent over 13 weeks of using Breathe Life.

“We believe that fundamental trends, like mobile, micro-segmentation, the explosion of data, and changing customer expectations, have just begun to transform the life & health insurance industry,” said Diagram Ventures CEO Francois Lafortune.

“The importance of life insurance, experienced firsthand by members of the founding team, can’t be understated. Ian and his team’s mission to enable the coming generation of middle-market consumers to educate themselves about life insurance and purchase online was truly compelling,” said John Stokes, a partner at Real Ventures. “We also have the benefit of knowing Ian for many years and his ability to bring an idea to market, to motivate top quality teams, and to build a strong brand has never failed to impress.”

Breathe Life was founded by Arach Tchoupani, Jean-Nicholas Hould, Sébastien Malherbe, and CEO Ian Jeffrey, all serial entrepreneurs with extensive experience launching and operating innovative technology companies in Canada, Silicon Valley and New York City.

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