Toronto-based insurtech Briza has raised a $10.2 million CAD ($8 million USD) Series A round as the startup aims to meet significant demand for its insurance carrier integrations.
Briza’s Series A financing, which consisted entirely of equity, closed at the beginning of October. It was led by Investment Group of Santa Barbara, and saw participation from existing investors, including 500 Startups. The new capital brings Briza’s total funding to date to $13.9 million CAD ($11 million USD).
“Briza’s platform can empower existing channels of commercial insurance distribution and unlock new ones.”
The “commercial insurance-as-a-service API” startup plans to use the capital to double the size of its engineering team and more than triple the number of API integrations that it offers from insurance carriers.
Briza’s mission is to “deliver commercial insurance to the world.” For agencies, Briza acts as a portal that delivers commercial insurance to businesses. For carriers, Briza acts as a marketplace for automated underwriting models. Briza handles API integrations with various carriers, merging them into its own “universal underwriting model.” Briza then makes this model available to developers, allowing them to more easily integrate into “the marketplace of small commercial APIs.”
Briza currently has partnership agreements with 11 commercial insurers, including Liberty Mutual, Berkshire Hathaway Guard, and AmTrust. Briza offers eight live insurance carrier API integrations from those partnerships and expects to have 30 total completed by the end of 2021.
In an interview with BetaKit, Briza’s CEO and co-founder, Ben Munro, said the company is facing a “massive backlog” of insurance carrier API integrations. “We have a big job ahead of us,” said Munro. “We’ve had some preliminary success doing integrations with a number of carriers, and all of a sudden, we just have a huge backlog of work to get through.”
The company is currently focused on two goals: integrating APIs from the various insurance carriers it works with, and building out a unified API platform for the commercial insurance industry in the United States (US).
Briza was co-founded in 2016 by Munro and Mike McDerment, co-founder and executive chair at FreshBooks, who recently stepped down from his role as FreshBooks’ CEO, citing plans to focus a portion of his efforts on supporting Briza moving forward.
“Ten years from now, the experience of buying commercial insurance as a small business owner will be delightful, compared to the onerous process it mostly is today,” McDerment told BetaKit. “Between here and there, a lot of software will be written. To make it easier to craft those delightful experiences, developers need Briza.”
There’s currently a “fairly massive wave” of US-based commercial insurance carriers bringing automated underwriting models to market, Munro told BetaKit. The carriers make these models available to third parties via APIs, which are often difficult to work with because they are large, complex, and built on legacy systems.
According to Munro, Briza’s integrations bring speed, efficiency, cost savings, and a better customer experience to the commercial insurance buying process. The startup touts its infrastructure as “developer-friendly” and claims it allows clients to “deliver commercial insurance in minutes, digitally.” Briza makes money by collecting a small processing fee for facilitating commercial insurance policy purchases.
“Briza’s platform can empower existing channels of commercial insurance distribution and unlock new ones,” said Ian Martin-Katz, partner at Investment Group of Santa Barbara. “We’re thrilled to support Briza as it delivers value to its partners in the commercial insurance ecosystem, including brokers, wholesalers, carriers and software developers.”
Briza raised a $3 million CAD seed round last February while it was part of 500 Startups, using the funding to grow its team from 10 to 25 employees. Pre-pandemic, Briza consisted of eight people working out of OneEleven.
Now, the company’s main focus lies on doubling its team of approximately 20 engineers to meet the integration demand from insurance carriers.
Ultimately, Briza aims to build a “neutral API layer,” and says that because it is not owned by an insurance broker or carrier, it is uniquely suited to do so.
“The emerging ‘embedded finance’ movement offers one of the most compelling digital growth opportunities to legacy financial institutions such as insurance agents and carriers,” said Rishi Sharma, Briza’s CTO.
By translating the quoting, binding, and payment experience, Sharma said, Briza enables insurance companies to tap into adjacent platforms and allows brands and merchants to access insurance more easily.
Image source Briza via Youtube