Willful signs partnership with insurance giant Allstate following launch in Québec

Toronto-based Willful, which offers online will and estate planning, has launched a new national partnership with Allstate Insurance Company of Canada.

The partnership will allow Allstate customers to access simplified estate planning tools in addition to Allstate’s existing products and services. Erin Bury, CEO and co-founder of Willful, told BetaKit the partnership is aimed to increase the distribution of Willful’s offering.

This partnership comes amid other major developments at Willful, and after a year of growth.

“Partnering with a brand as big and well-known as Allstate is a huge milestone for us,” Bury said. “Especially if you’re a startup, you know how much work goes in behind the scenes to do diligence and contracting and getting everything to this point. It’s a recognition of a lot of hard work on our team’s side, and we’re really just excited to see it come to light.”

Prior to this partnership, Willful has engaged with financial institutions and insurance companies in what Bury described as “co-marketing partnerships,” which involved written content and discounts. What is unique about the Allstate partnership is that Willful’s offering will now be a part of Allstate’s suite of products, meaning Allstate’s network of agents in Canada will be selling Willful’s products.

“We’re also going to be … training [Allstate’s] agents across the country, making sure that they’re educated on the Willful offering. So it definitely goes a lot deeper than some of the marketing partnerships that we’ve done in the past,” Bury added.

This partnership comes amid several other major developments at Willful, and after a year of solid growth. Bury told BetaKit the company was able to triple its revenue over 2020, and it is on track to triple revenue once more in 2021. Over 50,000 documents have been created on Willful’s platform, and Bury noted the majority of the startup’s growth has happened in the last 15 to 18 months. The startup also made its first acquisition in November and raised a $1 million seed round earlier in 2020.

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In March, Willful also launched its estate planning platform in the province of Québec. Bury talked to BetaKit about her desire to expand to the province at the time of Willful’s acquisition of WillowBee. Speaking with BetaKit this week, Bury said Québec is a very unique market for Willful, not only because of the language difference but also because of Québec’s legal system.

“We operate in common law in the rest of Canada, whereas in Québec, they operate under civil law, so it wasn’t just as easy as adapting our documents,” she said. “We really had to start from scratch.”

Willful partnered with a Québec law firm and spent several months updating and translating its platform legal documents and support materials. The company also hired a bilingual customer service employee and took steps to ensure its platform was in compliance with COVID-19 protocols in Québec.

The Willful platform is now available in almost every province in Canada, aside from Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island. Bury said she expects to bring the platform to those provinces in the coming months. The CEO noted that although the platform is not yet available in Canada’s territories, Willful is eyeing expansion to Canada’s North as part of its goal to be available nationwide.

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The startup has also been busy building out its team. Last week, Bury announced Willful had hired Luke Sheehan as its new chief marketing officer. Prior to joining Willful, Sheehan served as VP of Marketing at Ratehub, an online financial product comparison and application service. Bury said Sheehan’s experience at a “search-driven” company will aid Willful’s efforts in educating Canadians about wills and estate planning.

Sheehan replaces Sunta Sem, who served in the role since June 2018 and now plans to start her own business, according to Bury. Willful’s team currently sits at 15 people, and the startup plans to announce a new head of paid acquisition later this month.

Willful was also recently accepted to the Canadian Technology Accelerator (CTA) Digital program and completed the Intuit Prosperity Accelerator. Bury said the startup opted to join these programs in order to level up its business. She said the next phase of Willful’s growth will be focused on investments and partnerships.

“Knowing that there’s only so many Series A investment firms here in Canada, it’s a big focus for us this year to be building those relationships as we look to our next funding round,” she added.

Bury noted though the company is planning to raise funding in the future, the priority this year is building out Willful’s core product, to be followed by the launch of more products that can help create a solid estate plan for customers.

Image courtesy of Erin Bury. Photo by Becca Lemire Photography.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.