The idea of drone insurance would have been far-fetched not that long ago.
Enter entrepreneur Jay Bregman, a longtime drone and radio-controlled aircraft enthusiast. He’s the CEO and co-founder of Verifly, a startup that launched in August to provide on-demand drone insurance in what has become a fast-growing market. Verifly has raised $2.7 million led by Slow Ventures, including angels such as Saul and Robin Klein.
Executive SummaryRecreational drone enthusiasts and commercial users alike can buy insurance on demand—while standing at their desired flight location—with two taps on the Verifly app. CEO Jay Bregman explains his vision.
The cost for on-demand drone insurance starts at $10 per hour, and the insurance can be purchased with what the company bills as a simple, easy-to-use app for both recreational and commercial users. It works by mapping technology and real-time conditions to advise users of potential flying risks.
Down the line Verifly is looking to expand its shorter-term drone liability offerings to include longer periods of time and for larger flight areas, Bregman said.
While there are already drone insurance policies for commercial drone users, Bregman pitches Verifly as the “on-demand” drone insurance option. What’s more, he sees it standing out as “the easiest, lowest-cost and most flexible offering for business use.”
In a recent Q&A with Carrier Management, Bregman talked about Verifly and why he sees the company as bringing real innovation to the insurance industry. He also explained his own approach to innovation and leadership.
Q: Why is this product needed?
Bregman: Commercial users need drone insurance because their clients demand it. For personal users, just as you insure your car to protect your assets against potential damage or injury to others, you need to insure your drone with specific drone insurance since the risk of flying is not fully covered any other way.
Q: How is your company a market innovator?
Bregman: Verifly’s on-demand insurance enables a new generation of entrepreneurs: drone pilots. By giving them access to insurance when they need it, we allow them to make more money with their drones. Further, we think that the drone market as a whole is incredibly exciting, a technology on the cusp of becoming mainstream. So we’re proud to be able to serve the needs of this rapidly growing group of users.
Q: One of the screenshots of the App is headed “Instant Approval, Insure in Two Taps.” Can you explain the process? What happens with each tap?
Bregman: Users just tap the “Get Insured” button when at their desired flight location, review their rate for the hour and then receive instant coverage with a second tap to purchase the insurance.
Q: Was there a point in the drone market’s development where Verifly became necessary?
Bregman: I’m a drone enthusiast myself and saw a huge increase in drone use in the last years. I constantly heard from other drone enthusiasts that there wasn’t a product on the market that protected them from potential liability. So there were clear signs that something like on-demand insurance could thrive. We knew that the current options didn’t match the way drone users actually flew, and we wanted to create a product that could meet their needs.
Q: How do you plan to expand access to this product?
Bregman: We’re now available in 42 states, so in the near future we’re focused on expanding to all of the United States, which we’re on pace to do by the end of the year. We want to be wherever people are flying drones so they can enjoy their flights with peace of mind.
Q: Do you have any plans to partner with larger insurance carriers?
Bregman: We are currently partnered with Global Aerospace Inc. to underwrite our policies, a company which manages a pool of some of the largest and most secure aviation insurers and reinsurers in the world.
Q: Is there room for Verifly to grow internationally?
Bregman: At this time we’re focused on expanding to all of America first. We’re always looking for new ways to make the product more accessible to the entire drone community, however, and will definitely look to see what might be possible across the globe in the near future.
Q: What is your leadership style like?
Bregman: We created Verifly to solve a specific problem, so we use that problem-solving mentality to drive all of our decisions. With everything we do, we keep the overall goal at the forefront of our decision-making. I trust in my team to take that same approach and foster a culture where we all understand where we’re heading and do whatever we can to get there as individuals and as a team.
Q: How did you reach the point of starting your own company?
Bregman: After finishing grad school, I was speaking to a friend of mine who was having trouble with last-mile delivery. (Editor’s Note: According to Wikipedia, last mile is a term used in supply chain management and transportation planning to describe the movement of people and goods from a transportation hub to a final destination in the home.)
We discussed the problem in-depth and realized that we could create a service that far surpassed any available options. So we developed eCourier.
I brought this same mentality to my next venture, Hailo, to tackle the burgeoning ride-hailing industry.
These experiences with the on-demand industry and identifying gaps in the market helped me to create Verifly.
Q: Tell us what you learned from Hailo and how it helped you move Verifly forward?
Bregman: What I learned the most was the power of on-demand services and how unique they are in how fast they can grow. On-demand’s inherent speed combined with the ubiquity of smartphones and mobile technology is an amazing combination to create industry-changing products.
Q: How do you encourage innovation at your company?
Bregman: At Verifly, and in my past companies, I like to inspire innovation by letting passion drive my employees’ work. When we are all excited by a topic we do our best work. So we are very careful to hire people who are eager to wake up every day to solve a problem.
When launching a startup there are going to be long hours, and it’s essential to make sure that both myself and my employees always feel that we’re pushing for that larger solution.
What Is eCourier?
According to the LinkedIn description of eCourier.co.uk, Bregman’s first company is a “technology-enabled logistics company providing time-critical same-day, U.K. overnight and international delivery services, as well as inventory management, medical services, final-mile retail deliveries and film distribution.”
The service is “powered by a technology platform which brings together mobile computing, location-based services, a Web 2.0 application and a real-time optimization algorithm [called] ‘Larry.'”
“Larry sits at the heart of the business, assigning orders to eCouriers and building routes in real time, providing ETAs & ETDs” to satisfy clients’ delivery needs.