Dallas-based Bestow, which offers the first truly modern way to buy life insurance, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Centurion Life Insurance Company—a move that allows the local startup to be a national carrier.
Currently, Bestow Life Insurance Company is a licensed carrier in Texas, its home state. But, with Iowa-based Centurion’s licensing in 47 states and the District of Columbia, the move would also make Bestow a nationally licensed carrier instead of just an agent.
Pending regulatory approval, the acquisition could also help Bestow expand its product design, pricing, underwriting, and distribution.
“We have a bold mission at Bestow to make life insurance accessible to everyone, and the Centurion acquisition underscores our commitment to bringing that vision to life,” Melbourne O’Banion, Bestow’s co-founder and CEO, said in a statement. “With Bestow’s focus on expanding eligibility and access, we’ve known since the start that becoming a carrier would be a necessary part of our growth strategy.”
Bestow has been busy this year expanding its footprint, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bestow is backed by some of the top coastal VCs, which combined with a growing team in Dallas and Austin, has enabled it to innovate in a regulated industry. In February, the startup closed its $50 million Series B, and in April launched its own nonprofit to assist those most in financial need during a crisis.
Recently, the startup launched its Protect API and closed on a banner year of policy sales up more than 450 percent year over year, per a statement. The Centurion acquisition will only further that momentum, the team says.
Founded three years ago by O’Banion and Jonathan Abelmann (president), Bestow touts an entirely digital platform for affordable term life insurance coverage.
Bestow allows customers to apply for a policy in as little as five minutes, replacing the traditional months-long process and eliminating the need for medical exams and blood tests. The proprietary technology also enables smarter underwriting, which allows Bestow to offer more affordable plans.
“Our products fit a modern family’s lifestyle and solve for the pain points of the life insurance buying process,” O’Banion previously told Dallas Innovates. “When you can call a car, order food to your door, or book a trip in a matter of minutes, why should life insurance be any different?”
Despite a national expansion, Bestow plans to remain a digital agency that sells life insurance policies issued by North American Company for Life and Health Insurance. According to the startup, doing so will allow it to reach and serve as many customers as possible.
“Insurance is by definition a preventative product, and leveraging technology to democratize access to financial protection is social empowerment,” Jonathan Abelmann, Bestow’s co-founder and president, has previously said. “We aim to help ensure that every life is protected and valued, especially in the face of the unexpected.”
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