March 9, 2020
By: Richard Lau
What does Square One Insurance do?
Square One is an online home insurance provider that serves Canada (BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario) and the United States (Arizona, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, and Texas).
How did you come up with (or why did you want to do) this idea/concept/product/service?
Our leadership team here recognized that the insurance industry was burdened with antiquated processes and systems, which lead to a poor experience for customers. Unlike other industries, the insurance industry hasn’t changed since the 1970s. By starting from, well, square one, we wanted to eliminate all unnecessary complexities build into traditional home insurance policies. We also wanted to make it convenient and easy for customers to personalize policies to their unique needs. That way, customers only pay for the protection they need and want.
How did you decide on your company name?
Truth be told, it was a long process. Initially, we planned on calling the company “Rethink Insurance” but we’re blocked from doing so because another small company in the financial services industry was already using the name. We decided to engage two different sets of consultants. Unfortunately, we weren’t happy with their suggestions. Ultimately, our founder group brainstormed a bunch of ideas. We narrowed it down to two options, and landed on “Square One” for several reasons:
Who were your first customers? (Or: Tell us about your first sale. Or: Tell us about your opening day.)
It’s probably no surprise, but after getting our website up and our logo designed, our first customers were founders, friends and family members. A more interesting story is about one of our first online customer. As a bit of background, we introduced online quoting and purchasing about six months after our market launch.
Back to the story…one of our first online customers was an 80 year-old lady who was looking for condo insurance. She initiated a quote online, spending close to an hour getting a quote and initiating a few online chats to ask questions. Since we weren’t very busy in the early days, we offered to help her over the phone. She indicated that she preferred doing it online so she could do it at her own pace. After buying the policy online, she called to say she enjoyed the experience.
We learned so much from this customer. First, we learned that we needed to rewrite the questions asked and answer options provided to reduce ambiguity and confusion. Second, we learned that some customers preferred to self-serve at their convenience. And finally, we learned that customer preferences trumped things like demographics.
What's been a good way of growing your customer base and sales?
There’s no silver bullet. It’s a combination of smart advertising, great products, and competitive prices along with a focus on delivering an absolutely amazing customer experience. At Square One Insurance, we like to say that we sweat the small stuff so that our customers don’t have to.
What did you wish you knew before you started Square One Insurance?
So much! That said, it’s probably best that we were a bit naïve; otherwise, we would never have started a company that was competing with well-established, financially-strong companies.
What are you looking forward to in the next week/month/quarter or year? Or what are your aspirations for Square One Insurance?
Every three months, we release a new system build. I’m excited for every system build because each includes so many enhancements to our products and process, which ultimately deliver better experiences for both Square One Insurance customers and employees.
Another thing that I’m excited about is airing a series of new videos designed for YouTube and other social media channels. These videos will help introduce the Square One Insurance brand to a wide range of people that may not have otherwise heard about us.
What three words describe you as a person?
Meticulous, thoughtful, and boring. Yes, I’m a bit boring partly because I’m not passionate about that many things outside of work. I figure this is okay for now because I love what Square One Insurance is doing, and I have many years before retirement.
What is the last book you've read that you would recommend others read?
While not the last book that I read, I recommend everyone read “It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be” by Paul Arden. It’s a super easy read, and it shares some very powerful concepts on how to deliver what customers really want as well as the power of taking ownership for mistakes.
What is an unusual thing can you not travel without?
Hmm…I wish that I had a witty answer, but I can’t think of anything. Maybe that goes back to being boring. ;)
Where is your favorite place in the world?
That’s a tough one as there are so many amazing places. I love living in Vancouver, it truly is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. One of the most interesting and memorable places that I visited is Peru. There are so many amazing things to see from Cusco, Machu Picchu, to Lake Sandoval.
If you had an extra ten minutes per day, what would you do with them?
Probably, sit back and relax while drinking a cup of coffee and eating a pastry.