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Why Jetty Is Not Your Parents’ Insurance Company

Minimizing overhead and focusing on presentation is key.

Dave Soderberg/Photography by Jetty

Jetty Insurance travels light, but won’t leave you hanging. The startup believes its edge is its ability to really “get” its target customer by belonging to their generation. Jetty keeps it young, and it might first surface on a potential user’s Instagram feed. But the three-year-old company wants to continue the conversation, to educate its users on renters insurance and reliable financial backing, minus the gotchas. In the spirit of startups like Casper mattresses and Away luggage, Jetty is aiming to be an attractive alternative in a so-called ugly industry. Quiddity spoke with Jetty’s creative director Dave Soderberg about insuring without a legacy, using bots in moderation, and “adulting” differently than your parents.

How does your company’s heritage help you build trust with your consumers?
To build trust with consumers, we lean into the fact that we (as consumers) also expect a high level of product experience. To that end, we positioned Jetty as a product company that knows how to make products that satisfy the needs of today’s consumers. The fact that our product is renters insurance (and therefore intangible unlike glasses, razors, or mattresses) is irrelevant to the need to make something that is aligned with the demands of today’s customer.

For some reason insurance is this strange thing where many of us just go with whatever our parents used. We would never do that with other products.

The legacy insurance companies have obviously been around for a long time and therefore have a strong heritage. There’s a lot of trust that can come from longevity and people seeing your message over and over again. I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t something we need to overcome. You don’t want to just come from nowhere and say, “we offer great insurance, trust us.” We realize it’s a big leap for customers to trust us to protect them as a new player in the space. We try to overcome that gap by offering our products in ways that is clear and completely open to the consumer. Some of the old companies—and even newcomers—have built confusion into the model and it almost feels as though they’re intentionally trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the consumer. We strive to strike that balance between a speedy product, and a great price, while educating along the way so that the consumer can trust the product and the process.

I will say that heritage doesn’t always equal better. For some reason insurance is this strange thing where many of us just go with whatever our parents used. We would never do that with other products. Educating ourselves on the options feels daunting and we just hit up our parents, get their agent’s name, and sign on the dotted line. Now, there are new companies coming along like Jetty and saying, “Hey, you should be educated. You should know what you’re buying and get a really good product.” And that is changing the conversation and improving the experience for customers.

If you claimed one other brand as an ancestor, which would it be?
Casper. The mattress industry was ugly and disgusting from a design standpoint. As a whole it was synonymous with giant, bold, red, all-caps italics fonts and depressing showrooms with halogen lighting. Casper flipped the industry on its head and made something that was thought of as a commodity, cool. They even baked moments into the purchase experience to help make it feel fun (e.g., aren’t you a bit curious what it’s like to have a mattress delivered in a box and see it unfold?). They brought so much delight and enjoyment to an ugly industry, and that is 100% what’s so exciting about what we’re doing with insurance.

How do consumers generally learn more about your brand’s heritage?
We try to offer as much information and transparency as possible. The old way of doing things was to try to quickly package information and hide the details in the fine print. Who knows how Allstate started? No one. Instead, we try to de-jargon how we speak (see our About Us page) and the experience because that’s what we wanted and expected from insurance as consumers. Throughout the experience, even when getting an insurance quote on Jetty, you can click to “learn more,” and there's commonsense breakdowns of the product value and questions you might have. Each step of the way you feel our opposition to the old way of doing it and why we built our renters insurance product the way we did. Our heritage is in our DNA from design to copy, each step of the way. We even call out “gotchas” that many consumers who have had insurance for years even don’t know about.

That safety is really an important comfort today, especially as people become more skeptical of being on the internet.
Absolutely. We need to not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. We’re doing that by training a large customer care team instead of outsourcing it like many legacy companies. Then on the opposite side, there are modern companies that swing the pendulum too far toward technology and you end up purchasing everything from a robot. We don’t want to be that either. We think we should offer people the tools and services to do it on their own, but be right there, ready to help and guide them if needed.

I'd be lying if I said that I felt insurance was some huge topic on the conscience of modern consumers. But I do think renting is.

What details of your founding story have resonated most with consumers?
Honestly, we’re learning what resonates about the Jetty story. We’re doing a lot of testing to figure that out. Ultimately what we’re seeing is that it depends on the intent of the person and where we are having that conversation. If somebody is just scrolling through Instagram they quite honestly may not even know the basics of renters insurance. So then the messaging that performs well is just plain speak about the basic benefits of renters insurance in a nicely packaged way.

Which social media platform, if any, are you focusing on to share your company’s story?
Instagram is really the best place to share the full story of your brand in a single feed. Facebook can be a place where we’re engaging with customers. Same with Twitter, responding to people and having it be another place people can go to.

The brand side is what really excites me and I’ve found that my favorite companies on social tend to celebrate one thing. Away, for instance, celebrates travel. They don’t necessarily celebrate the company or even their bags. Casper, at the end of the day, is this pithy feed of inside jokes about sleep.

For me, social has been a little bit like that room in your house or apartment that you know could be way better, but you haven’t found the time. You’ve got like six Pinterest boards of everything you want to do for it, but you haven’t saved the money, and you don't want to half-ass it. At the end of the day I want to go into it with a strategy and with an opinion.

What other brands, strategies or consumer trends have influenced your own company?
Hubble is a good example. You know their two founders; they’re in all the ads, and I think we could definitely do a better job of doing that with our founders, Mike and Luke. They're really compelling, super honest.

How has awareness around renters insurance changed your ability to communicate your brand’s history?
I'd be lying if I said that I felt insurance was some huge topic on the conscience of modern consumers. But I do think renting is. That is really the mission behind Jetty—make renters lives easier.

The type of people who expect really good modern experiences grew up on the internet and started to experience disruption with things like Uber and Netflix. They now expect those experiences across all of the products in their lives and I believe we have a duty to give them a better experience than other insurance businesses. That’s the history we want to build at Jetty.

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