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An Interview With Michael Crowe, CEO Of Insurance Marketplace Clearsurance

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Below is our recent interview with Michael Crowe, CEO of Clearsurance:

Michael Crowe

Q: Michael, can you tell us something more about the company and your services?

A: Clearsurance is a customer-centric insurance marketplace where consumers can learn about and shop for the insurance that best fits their needs. Leveraging customer review feedback from 130,000 car, home and renters insurance customers, we have developed the most comprehensive customer data-driven rating metric available to consumers.

To date, this is the only website that shares independent and unbiased decision support guidance to insurance consumers. We’re building the world’s most transparent and trusted insurance marketplace where consumers can easily find the best insurance to meet their specific needs.

Clearsurance is simplifying insurance shopping and empowering consumers with rich customer-generated data sets. Since our launch in December 2016, we’ve collected more than 130,000 insurance reviews from policyholders of more than 500 insurance companies.

Insurance is opaque and confusing, and for decades, consumers have had little control over the shopping and buying processes. We’re changing that. Shoppers can consume easy-to-understand customer data points that tell them what specific insurance brands do well, or not so well. Many people read online reviews and ratings before making most major purchases. We’re now giving the consumers the opportunity to do that same research before insuring their homes or vehicles. It’s really important for an insurance consumer to know that an insurance company will have their back when they experience a loss.

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Q: Can you explain how you rank insurance companies?

A: Companies are ranked in order of their rating, which is based exclusively on consumer feedback. We use a proprietary algorithm that factors in multiple aspects of user reviews written on Clearsurance. We have separate ranking lists for each product line (car, homeowners and renters). So someone shopping for car insurance, for example, can visit our best car insurance rankings to see who other drivers rate as the top companies. In order for a company to appear in our rankings, it must have a minimum of 25 reviews of that insurance type.

Q: Do insurance shoppers have to pay to use Clearsurance?

A: No, our website is entirely free for consumers to use. They can visit the site, quickly educate themselves about various insurance topics, consume insurance company ratings and rankings, and see how insurance companies compare against one another in their respective states. Clearsurance makes money through partnerships with insurance companies.

The way we earn revenue is when insurance companies subscribe to the platform for access to aggregated benchmarking data, and not personal user data, from their policyholders. Additionally, we have supplier fulfillment partnerships with specific insurance brands, and those are clearly identified on the site and in no way do they impact the ratings and rankings that consumers see.

We would only get paid if a consumer decides to take action to click a supplier link in order to get a price quote from a specific insurance brand. We do not receive any compensation for completion of a policy sale. Therefore, we have no financial or any other ulterior motive to steer or direct consumers towards any one company. We allow the customer generated data and feedback help guide the user experience to the best choice that fits a particular shopper’s preferences.

Q: What makes Clearsurance different from other websites?

A: Every other direct or third party online — and offline for that matter — seller of insurance is steering customers to proprietary products from insurance companies that pay commission incentives. Often times, commissions are tied to premium volumes (think bogeys or thresholds). By hitting specific premium volumes, third party sellers earn what’s called override or supplemental commissions. Some insurance brands will pay higher commission rates to third party sellers than other brands. Therefore, the financial incentives of the seller are not always aligned with finding the best insurance company.

We are developing and designing a user experience that enables shoppers to identify the best rated, best priced insurance for their specific needs and unique risk profile. We have zero financial incentives tied to the user’s ultimate purchasing decision. We are a truly independent and unbiased method to source insurance.

We also do not collect a user’s personal data and auction it off, (often referred to as lead generation — ”lead gen”) which results in a consumer being aggressively solicited by multiple sellers.

According to our consumer data, people who use lead gen to obtain insurance often wind up feeling misled and deceived. They are also subjected to high-pressure sales tactics and multiple telephonic and/or email solicitations. It’s an overwhelming and poor experience for the user, and this is reflected in the customer feedback on Clearsurance.

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Q: What might surprise consumers who visit Clearsurance for the first time?

A: Consumers are often surprised to see how certain insurance companies rank. The property and casualty insurance industry alone spends upwards of 6 billion dollars a year annually on advertising, and most of that spend is accounted for by just a handful of brands — the ones we see on TV all the time.

What we’ve discovered, though, is these household brands aren’t necessarily the ones with the highest ratings. We see in our rankings that smaller, regional companies often have the better consumer ratings. Those looking for the best homeowners insurance might be surprised when they see a company they may not be familiar with is rated better by their peers than other larger brands.

Customers using Clearsurance to receive a price quote from a specific insurance brand spend an average of ten minutes and five seconds on the site and convert to a quote 24 to 57 percent of the time. The conversion rate is a function of the insurance companies own front end user experience for generating price quotes.

Q: What can we expect from Clearsurance in the future?

A: This quarter, we’re going to be adding agents to our platform. With the introduction of agents, we’ll be collecting and publishing data across all three insurance buying methods — insurance companies, insurance agents and third-party sellers.

For consumers who prefer to buy through an agent, they’ll now be able to see who their peers rate as the best insurance agents in their area. About 40 percent of consumers buy through an agent, so we’re excited to develop the ability for users to receive price quotes from highly rated agencies if that’s the modality they use to receive price quotes.

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