(Image source: Hippo Insurance.)
Hippo (Mountain View, Calif.) a startup insurer dedicated to providing a simpler process to help homeowners find more appropriate coverage, has expanded its senior operations and leadership team with the appointment of three senior executives drawn from leading financial service and insurance companies. Former President and CEO of First Contact Insurance, Rick McCathron has joined Hippo as Head of Insurance; Rick Folgmann, is Head of Operations having previously served as Chief Strategy Officer for Ethos Lending; and Mike Gulla becomes Director of Underwriting for Hippo having previously led the underwriting team for Esurance’s home insurance business.
Hippo closed a $14 million of Series A funding round in December 2016, and is currently building out its team as it gears up to launch its home insurance offering in 2017. The company reports that it has already received regulatory approval by the California Department of Insurance to begin selling in California and is currently in the midst of a closed beta program.
“We are delighted that talent of this caliber is joining Hippo to help us shake up the home insurance market that hasn’t changed in decades,” comments Assaf Wand, CEO, Hippo. “As we prepare for our commercial launch, Rick, Mike and Rick bring a wealth of experience to ensure Hippo delivers on its mission to disrupt the home insurance market and offer the most transparent, affordable and relevant insurance policies online.”
Rick McCathron brings 25 years of P&C experience to his role as Hippo’s Head of Insurance. Prior to Hippo, he was the President and CEO of First Connect Insurance and has held senior executive positions at companies such as Mercury Insurance, Home Value Protection and Superior Access Insurance. At Mercury General, Rick was VP of the Western Region, responsible for overseeing half of Mercury’s operations as well as standardizing the company’s underwriting procedures nationally. As Head of Insurance, McCathron will be responsible for pricing, risk management, compliance and expanding Hippo’s offerings beyond California.
Rick Folgmann, a 25-year veteran of financial services, will be responsible for business operations including customer support and claims, in his role as Head of Operations. Folgmann has significant expertise in sales and operations having previously served as Chief Strategy Officer for Ethos Lending, President & CEO of iLoan and senior VP of Sales and Operations at E-Loan.
Mike Gulla, Director of Underwriting, is joining Hippo from Esurance, where he was the first underwriter for the home insurance business and went on to build and lead the underwriting team as the business grew. Prior to joining Esurance, Gulla spent five years in a number of different underwriting roles at Nationwide Insurance. At Hippo he will be responsible for developing and implementing underwriting criteria and managing portfolio quality.
The addition of these senior executive to the Hippo team further broadens the company’s already reserve of expertise that includes a number of leading FinTech industry veterans currently invested in the organization. These include Mark Lefanowicz (CEO, Ethos Lending), Pete Flint (Founder, Trulia & Board of Directors, Zillow Group), Warren Hogarth (former Partner, Sequoia), Jacob Gibson (Founder, NerdWallet), Matt Humphrey (CEO, LendingHome), Josh Stech (Founding Partner, LendingHome), Louis Beryl (Founder & CEO, Earnest), Ramtin Naimi (General Partner, Abstract Ventures), Soo Boon Koh (Managing Partner, iGlobe Partners) and Christopher Hill (Founder & Chairman, PerkSpot).
Disrupting a Laggard Industry
Hippo describes its market mission as taking a fresh approach to the home insurance market, which has seen little innovation in over half a century. Alluding to the notorious difficulty of buying insurance online, Hippo says it seeks to disrupt the insurance industry by providing home insurance that is fast and simple to purchase online, offers more transparent coverage suited to modern lifestyles and is available at lower prices by going direct to consumers and removing expensive commissioned agents.
“The homeowners product has been somewhat of a laggard in adopting to the new needs of insurers—whether that is the coverages and limits that are applied or in the way they educate the consumer about the ‘Smart home’ possibilities,” comments Karen Furtado, partner at research and advisory firm SMA (Boston). “Homeowners is ripe for disruption. It is positioned well for a higher engagement model with the policyholder as the home is an incredible store of data and information that will continue to mitigate the risks that are inherent with this line of business.”