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Ascend, ‘Klarna of insurance’ nets $30M to revolutionise insurtech with BNPL

Ascend
Image credits: Ascend

Innovation via new technologies is the driver of change in the financial sector, and that has led to numerous efficiency gains to date. Well, the insurance sector is no exception! 

In fact, the insurance industry has been quick at lapping up the digitisation opportunity presented by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Research and Market, the global market for Digital Insurance Platform, estimated at $102.2B in 2020, is projected to reach a revised size of $169.2B by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 9%.

Lately, many tech-savvy players are entering the insurance industry, bringing disruptive business models and at the same time delivering a unique, yet seamless digital customer experience.

One such company that made it into the headlines recently is Ascend, a modern insurance payments platform, based out of New York. 

Raised $30M

The company announced on Thursday that it has raised a $30M Series A in equity funding along with a $250M lending commitment to finance insurance premium loans through its platform facilitated by Hudson Structured Capital Management (HSCM Bermuda).

The funding comes three comes after raising $5.5M, bringing the total funding raised to $39M.

Who backed?

The Series A funding was led by Index Ventures with participation from new investors such as Distributed Ventures and its anchor limited partner NFP, HSCM Bermuda, and XYZ Ventures. Existing investors First Round Capital, Susa Ventures, and FirstMark Capital made it to the round. 

Also, a series of strategic angel investors including Garret Koehn, Courtney Leimkulher, Mischief, Nilam Ganenthiran, Nathaniel Manning, and other fintech operators including Misha EsipovMarc Bhargava,  Mahdi Raza, and Charley Ma, participated. 

The funding will be used to hire dozens of new team members. Ascend says 50% of its employees are from groups typically underrepresented in tech. 

Modern insurance payments

Ascend was founded by two-time insurtech entrepreneurs Andrew Wynn and Praveen Chekuri. It is the modern insurance payments platform that provides automated all-in-one financing, collections, and payables.

The company’s payments APIs and no code products automate insurance payments end-to-end — from an online point of sale with buy now, pay later financing to the distribution of commissions and carrier payables. 

This enables insurance brokers, MGAs, and carriers to sell more policies by eliminating labor-intensive, expensive processes while providing customers with the great online checkout and financing experience they’ve come to expect.

At present, the company is operating nationally in all 50 states working with customers including Vouch, Cowbell, Newfront, Boost Insurance, NFP, LuckyTruck, Rogue Risk, Portal Insurance, and Riskwell. 

Increases in policy purchase

Ascend says its customers have seen increases in policy purchase conversion due to the reduced friction when given the option of monthly flexible payments at the point of sale. 

“Millions of dollars of policies have been transacted through Ascend with the average value of each being nearly $10k, 61% of transactions are premium finance loans, the remaining 39% are policies paid in full while 33% of checkouts created convert to a transaction and 30% of all conversions are on the same day the checkout is created,” says the company in the press release. 

“We’ve seen an enormous surge in demand over the last six months since we launched. Our payment software greatly reduces purchase friction for customers buying insurance while simultaneously reducing or eliminating traditionally labor-intensive operational processes for brokerages, MGAs, and carriers,” says Praveen Chekuri, Co-CEO, and Co-Founder at Ascend. 

Investors

Based out of California, Index Ventures is a venture capital firm that helps entrepreneurs turn bold ideas into global businesses.

“Buying commercial insurance is shockingly complicated – I’ve seen this pain point firsthand from our investments in companies like Coverwallet, Vouch, Coalition, and Newfront Insurance,” says Mark Goldberg, Partner at Index Ventures. “Building a modern checkout experience that feels more Shopify and less like filing tax forms is the biggest opportunity in the insurance market today. There’s an immediate need for the type of verticalized and embedded end-to-end payments product that spans brokers, MGAs, and carriers” says Goldberg. “Ascend will redefine how insurance is bought and sold for the coming decade and we’re excited to see this team execute and grow so quickly.”

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