50 Leading Companies of The Year 2020
The Silicon Review
“At Surex, we believe that people should always come first.”
The insurance industry has an important socio-economic function to discharge and as such, it plays a leading role within the financial system in a country. It has a decided advantage over most other financial activities in the present economic world. It provides funds, largely in the long-term, to repair or compensate for the real value and cost of damages, accidents and various losses in all fields of material activities, as well as life and health. An evolving insurance sector is of vital importance for economic growth. While encouraging savings habit, it also provides a safety net to both enterprises and individuals.
In light of the foregoing, we’re thrilled to present Surex.
Surex is Canada’s fastest-growing insurance marketplace. Quote, compare and buy online, with access to instant proof of insurance. Surex offers auto, home, condo/tenant, and business insurance through their 10+ partner insurers.
The company was founded in 2011 and is headquartered in Magrath, Alberta.
In Conversation with Lance Miller, Co-founder & CEO & Matt Alston, Co-founder & COO
Why was the company set up? And how did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?
Surex was founded in a small rural town; however, our footprint has spread nationally. Besides service clients present in six provinces and two territories, we employee over 180 staff in three provinces. Our executive team, licensed advisors, customer service, software development, finance, HR, and marketing teams are a mix of remote and in office.
Growing from 13 employees in 2012 to 150 in about five years and with policies growing from 0 to $100M in premium (growing in 3-4M in premium every month) in some of the most challenging times in Canada, this is a company that has seen growth in its organization and its clientele. With leading-edge digital solutions to support its customer database, the team of brokers at Surex is delivering top quality service resulting in the revenue growth we’ve seen over the past few years.
How successful was your first project roll on? Share the experience.
Our very first project came with some tough lessons and some real reality checks. We were convinced that we could invest in a cheap website and that customers would find us online and buy. While the thought was excellent, the reality is it didn’t work that way. We had to drive the traffic to our site and then quickly realized that a website can’t handle the volume and that there is a real need for robust back end systems to support the effort. From those lessons, we now have a full development R&D team that continues to strengthen the IT of our platform, something we never envisioned when we first began. Technology and R&D have become core departments in our business as these are ultimately the tools that will let us meet and exceed customer expectations.
If you have to list five factors that have been/are the biggest asset to your organization, what would they be?
Our customers are not just ‘users’, they’re people: Surex’s model aims to cut the unpleasantness out of the buying process and help customers make quick, easy decisions on a purchase they don’t necessarily want to make, let alone revisit to ensure they’re getting the best rates and appropriate coverage.
We set our brokers up for success: They are incentivized by customer satisfaction rather than sales quotas or benchmarks, and their service delivery is seamless from a tech standpoint.
We don’t sacrifice personal touch for growth: Our decision to put customers’ wants and needs first, rather than having customers mold to our business model, was one of the most important decisions in scaling our business thus far.
Our long-term vision is to disrupt our industry to benefit the customer: We offer a marketplace of products, and our licensed advisors ultimately give the buying and decision-making power back to consumers.
Our families and our community come first: We believe that you can leverage technology to grow your company and still keep people first and foremost in business and life.
What makes your company stand out from the competition?
While larger competitors get lost in sunk costs and double-down their spent to make a solution viable, Surex isn’t afraid to pivot and pursue whole new initiatives. Innovations don’t have to come top-down, either. Every employee is empowered to bring forth solutions they believe could help the business. The executive level is much closer to the front lines than is typical in larger organizations, ensuring all levels of the business are driving towards the same vision.
Do you have any new products ready to be/getting ready to be launched?
Surex’s business objectives have always been customer-centric. We arm staff with the best tools to ensure success, including a custom CRM system built for and in tandem with the sales staff so that every need is met with unique functionality not always available in a from-the-box solution. Each customer is assigned a dedicated insurance assistant right from their first contact, ensuring they only need to tell their story once and are always in touch with the same broker who knows and responds to their growing needs. Customers have the advantage and convenience of gathering online insurance quotations from their computer, cell phone, or tablet to be provided with insurance pricing.
We have invested in building an AI driving system called “pulse”. This technology can monitor our clients’ renewals and proactively notify them when savings are available in the marketplace. Because we don’t represent a single carrier, we have the opportunity to leverage technology and place our clients with better options.
As a question on sustainability, where do you see your company a couple of years from now?
Surex has a goal to be the dominant player in the online broker space. Online players in the US markets have been able to obtain a 13.5 percent market share. Surex gives the choice of markets along with the convenience of online, a better consumer proposition than a direct company can offer. Excellent customer service and features such as “Pulse” are going to help us retain the customers we do win. We will obtain a 13-15 percent market share over time, and with our growth rates, we are well on our way of accomplishing this task.
“Technology and R&D have become core departments in our business as these are ultimately the tools that will let us meet and exceed customer expectations.”