Three generations of Dustin Lemick’s family have sold the rings, necklaces, bracelets and watches inside Cy Fredrics Jewelers buildings near Chicago. The craft was passed down to Lemick like a precious jewel. He’s held it closely ever since.
As the local business’ president, Lemick understood the emotional importance of the purchases made inside those stores. He felt the trust placed in him as a guiding consultant – a special bond shared with customers. But Lemick also grew familiar with the rough edges of jewelry insurance, and he had an idea of how to smooth them out.
“It kind of gave me and afforded me this window into the process – from what I was starting to gather, a completely broken process,” Lemick said while reflecting on his 13-year career as the company’s president. “And [I] started realizing, okay, this is not working very well just by and large for consumers and for jewelers.”
Frustrations can boil when homeowners and renters policies don’t cover the full value of lost or stolen jewelry. Disappointment can surface when replacement diamonds are required to come from limited jewelers. Dated coverage can force customers to bear unexpected out-of-pocket costs.
So, in 2017, Lemick founded BriteCo, an InsurTech that offers no-obligation jewelry and watch insurance policy quotes and full coverage from a consumer’s smartphone. BriteCo policies are also offered when customers buy jewelry at local stores and make purchases online. Lemick said working to provide an overwhelming value proposition to a consumer is what guides the new insurer.
“We bring that to the table, and I think it makes a huge, huge difference in terms of our product [and] our approach,” Lemick explained, later adding that, “we actually innovate on the insurance product itself, on underwriting, on leveraging technology to couple with those kinds of things.”
Lemick launched the company with cofounders Conor Redmond, Ben Mautner and John Ortbal. He shared how the organization seeks to innovate “starting with the product itself” all the way through to the claims process.
On the distribution end, BriteCo has assembled an integrated network of more than 3,000 retail jewelers who use BriteCo technology as part of a free appraisal system. A decision application programming interface makes “a lot of the underwriting decisions for us without any human intervention,” Lemick explained, and pricing algorithms update and verify prices and coverages.
Lemick said he believes embedded insurance can be a beneficial solution for certain insurance lines of business – but that it may not be suitable for all.
“It is important for businesses to carefully consider the customer journey and value proposition when determining if embedded insurance is a viable option,” Lemick said. “By integrating insurance directly into the customer experience, embedded insurance can enhance the customer journey and drive cost efficiencies, particularly in an environment where traditional customer acquisition costs are on the rise.”
Although he’s stepped away to operate BriteCo, Lemick’s family jewelry business is continuing under the direction of his father and younger brother. Lemick – a graduate gemologist and licensed insurance producer – warmly remembers how it felt to help his customers in those stores for all those years.
Now, he’s happy to help them in a new way.
“I used to see the customers be frustrated or not end up getting good coverage or something bad happening on the claims,” Lemick reflected. “And to be able to solve those problems for them, and to be able to provide [a] really, truly best in class product in a really easy-to-digest process … it’s a different type of thing, but to be able to give that to somebody, it really makes me feel good.”
Moving forward, he wants to continue growing efficiently through BriteCo’s current distribution channels. He believes the product is the best in its class. Now, its leaders are working to get it in front of as many people as possible and make it the “gold standard in the jewelry insurance space,” he said.
“I think you’re seeing definitive changes happening in the InsurTech space,” Lemick said. “And I think one of the big changes is that there’s a lot of generalists out there. And I think those generalists that don’t have a real good value proposition and something unique are going to have trouble. And I think that they’re going to end up going away.”
He continued: “But the folks who are solving real problems that have true differentiation and industry expertise – I think those guys are going to win. And I put us in that category.”