Dallas-Based Life Insurance Startup Bestow Lands $70 Million Series C

The insurance innovator has raised $145 million in total funding to date as it readies for expansion. In 2020, Bestow has closed a $50M Series B round, launched a nonprofit, and acquired Centurion Life Insurance Company.

Bestow CEO and Co-founder Melbourne O'Banion [Image: Courtesy Fort Lion Studio]

Dallas-based Bestow, a fully digital life insurance company, announced today a $70 million Series C funding round. The startup, launched three years ago, has raised $145 million to date. The company, which aims to make coverage accessible to millions, says the new round will expand access to life insurance with product, partner, and platform expansion.

The round came from both new and existing investors, including Breyer Capital, Valar Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, Core Innovation Ventures, Morpheus Ventures, and Sammons Financial, according to a statement.

Bestow aims to reimagine life insurance and expand the market. The company says 85 percent of Bestow applicants are new to life insurance. Built from the ground up as a tech platform, customers can buy a policy on a mobile device in as little as 5 minutes and “instantly secure coverage without a phone screening, doctor’s visit, or blood test,” according to a news release.

“While the adoption of technology has transformed many financial services, the life insurance industry lags far behind in its ability to appeal to a digital consumer,” said Melbourne O’Banion, co-founder and CEO of Bestow, in a statement. “Bestow is a new breed of life insurer, built for future generations, with the ability to provide attractive products and services for our customers and partners.”

O’Banion says the funding “allows us to propel our vision to scale protection to millions of underserved families.”

insurance

From left: Bestow co-founders Jonathan Abelmann and Melbourne O’Banion, photographed in 2018. [Courtesy: Bestow]

Sales have risen more than 450 percent year-over-year, according to the company. Bestow expects its proprietary platform to “help propel growth into new insurtech, carrier, and partner channels in 2021.”

Bestow says it’s invested in initiatives for growth, including acquiring a nationally-licensed carrier and hiring more than 70 new team members this year. Those hires include Chief Distribution Officer Steve Robinson, Chief Financial Officer Claire Martin, Chief Technology Officer Chris Copeland, Chief Underwriter Jennifer Richards, Head of People Lizette Fleher, and Head of Product Adam Boender.

“We strategically built Bestow’s digital infrastructure and services to support virtually any life insurance product across any channel,” said Jonathan Abelmann, co-founder and president of Bestow, in a statement.

It goes beyond direct to consumer: “Bestow provides fintechs, agents, carriers, and more with the necessary tools to integrate life insurance products into their businesses seamlessly. This creates enormous opportunities for growth and engagement never seen before in our industry,” Abelmann said.

2020 has been busy for Bestow

Earlier this month, Bestow announced the acquisition of Centurion Life Insurance Company. The startup entered into an agreement to acquire Centurion, an Iowa-based insurer with licensing in 47 states and the District of Columbia, pending regulatory approval.  Bestow, a licensed carrier in Texas, can “drive further innovation in product design, pricing, underwriting, and distribution for its customers and partners by becoming a nationally licensed carrier,” it said in a statement at the time. The insurance innovator also said “it will remain a digital agency selling term life insurance policies issued by North American Company for Life and Health Insurance.”

In February, Bestow completed a $50 million Series B. That raise was led by Valar Ventures, with contributions from current investors (NEA, Morpheus Ventures, and Core Innovation Capital) and new participation from Sammons Financial.

Bestow, which is backed by some of the top coastal VCs, said at the time its funding, combined with a growing team in Dallas and Austin, has enabled the company to innovate in a regulated industry.

The company also announced the launch of the Bestow Foundation in February. The Dallas-based digital life insurance startup will give financial support to those in need during a crisis or disaster. First up was a donation to the CDC Foundation to help combat COVID-19.

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