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The insurance industry is among the slowest digital adopters, especially in Southeastern Europe. Nevertheless, several trends are driving a change in this state of affairs. While not surprisingly consumers are getting more and more used to using their phones to complete pretty much every task, there are also changes in regulatory frameworks on both the EU and national level that are finally enabling digitalization. Last but not least, COVID-19 has further pushed the need for remote-first insurance operations.
Boleron, a digital insurance broker, appeared on the Bulgarian market a bit over a year ago. Since then, the startup has managed to introduce various online insurance products, receive an angel investment from Ivaylo Slavov, CEO of one of the fastest-growing IT providers in the region – BULPROS and earn a spot in the 2020 edition of the VISA Innovation Program. During its first year, Boleron also developed the first and still the only fully-digital car insurance in Bulgaria through which clients can instantly receive a signed insurance policy 24/7. The team also claims to have saved more than 100, 000 pages of paper that would have otherwise been used.
On a growth trajectory
Now, two Sofia-based VC firms specializing in fintech, New Vision 3 and Eleven Ventures, are adding more fuel to Boleron by backing the young company with a total of €500K. The funding will be used for expansion of the team and further insurance portfolio growth – with offerings in the life, health, and business insurance segments.
“We are also planning to set foot on the Romanian market. Being a neighboring country with similar habits and cultural perspective, Romania is an enticing opportunity – their market is twice as big as the Bulgarian, we still don’t have a direct competitor there and, moreover, their government recently introduced a law that banned the use of paper policies for auto insurances,” adds Alexander Tsvetkov founder and CEO of Boleron.
Boleron’s mobile-first platform is currently integrated with the biggest insurance companies in Bulgaria and its users can purchase insurance products at any time with just a few clicks. “We have the only insurance policy with an electronic signature in the country, which clients obtain in a PDF format just like a plane ticket,” states Tsvetkov.
Both New Vision 3 and Eleven Ventures have shown interest in positioning themselves in the fintech vertical. In March 2020, NV3 invested €2.5M in three fintech companies – Paynetics, Phyre, and Phos. At the same time, next to several fintech investments (Payhawk, Reloyalty, LogSentinel) Eleven Ventures manages the Visa Innovation Program, which supports the development of fintechs in the region.
“In terms of digitalization, the insurance industry is far behind other sectors and that’s particularly true for Southeast Europe. It’s still an undeveloped niche and there is a lot of market share that can be captured in this segment. The timing for Boleron is great and the team is solid – they have both technical and insurance know-how,” explains in front of The Recursive Yordan Zarev, partner at New Vision 3.
Eleven’s team shares a similar sentiment and elaborates that there is plenty of room for innovation in the sector – from process optimization to more flexible and personalized insurance products, all the way to better overall customer experience.
“The insurance industry is undergoing a massive digital transformation, which is yet to start in SEE. With its superb technology and highly experienced team, Boleron could provide, even to an underserved market, a customer-centric product that is more accessible, easier to understand and consume,” shares Daniel Tomov, Managing Partner at Eleven.