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Transparency and a Strong Membership Model

Tom Burroughes for Family Wealth Report

December 20, 2021

Following PURE’s win of the Family Wealth Report’s award for Best Insurance Underwriter for the sixth consecutive year, Ross Buchmueller sat down with Tom Burroughes to share his thoughts.

What do you think is the main reason you have reached this award-winning stage? What sort of challenges did you have to take on?
Five years ago, when we were first recognized by the Family Wealth Report, I would have suggested that our model, with an emphasis on an alignment of interests, was a primary driver of our success. Having sustained extraordinary financial results, with greater than 20% growth each year for more than a decade, I am convinced that the hard-working men and women of PURE are the secret to our success. Building an insurance company from scratch is not a challenge for the faint of heart. Our team has leveraged a superior model and executed through a financial crisis, many hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes and a pandemic. The commitment of our team to do purposeful work every day is extraordinary.

What can you tell us about how your colleagues contributed to this success?
Insurance is an extremely decentralized industry, where decisions made by individual underwriters, claims professionals or actuaries can have an enormous impact. The environment in which our team works is strong and defined by a commitment to purpose—helping members live their lives to the fullest and pursue their passions with confidence—and a set of principles that ensures that colleagues understand what is expected from them. In all areas of the business, our team brings both passion and consistency to work every day. I am amazed at how hard they work, how creative and curious they are and how dedicated they are to doing purposeful work.

How have you dealt with the changes taking place in the North American wealth management market and in what way did your award reflect that?
When we started the company, we committed ourselves to being more transparent, to eliminating conflicts in our business and, wherever possible, finding an equilibrium where the interests of our various stakeholders are aligned. As the wealth management industry moves further in that direction, the insurance industry remains too opaque and too conflicted. We believe we can do more. We have created new utilities to improve transparency with a portal to track and manage claims, tools to self-serve loss prevention advice and even use our data to help our members shop for a home. We have also created a stronger sense of community with forums designed to discuss parenting and teen drivers, among other areas. If we commit ourselves to these pillars of our strategy, we will thrive.

What sets you apart from your peers this year?
Our membership model, our culture and our focus. We’ve talked a bit about the model and the culture. There is tremendous power in being a specialist. All of our peers are multi-line, global insurers. They are good companies and pride themselves on the diversification of their businesses. Every day, every member of our team comes to work focused on being great in the US HNW market. They are serving the membership and looking to improve. They ask “how can we prevent losses?” (Last year, we reversed the trend of water damage for the first time in a decade.) And they ask “How we can add more value?” (This year, we added cash distributions for members with tenure of 10 years or more.) We created a digital advice dashboard to complement the advice of an advisor. We built a tool to leverage risk data to educate our members before buying a home. We are creating a self-serve tool that helps policyholders immediately answer questions about premium impact, like “what if I submit a claim?” or “what if I install a protective device?” I think these innovations come from a culture of curiosity, a model that rewards us for member satisfaction and an expertise that comes from being only in one business. Our peers are fine companies, but it is hard to compete with specialists.

From whom do you take inspiration, either in terms of people or other organizations, inside or outside the North American wealth sector?
We have always looked to the wealth management industry for inspiration, especially those who operate with a commitment to remove conflicts. These days, we seem to be focusing on areas where we can remove friction. Technology has empowered us as consumers and the expectations for immediate, frictionless service create inspiration for re-inventing old ways. There are many consumer brands who have created extraordinary customer experiences and deep brand loyalty.

What will you do to keep to the standard of an award-winner and push ahead in the future?
Our commitment to member experience is a journey without a destination. Today’s innovations are replacing things that we felt were groundbreaking only a few years ago. In the future, some of these initiatives will likely feel quaint.

What do you hope will be the main consequence of achieving this accolade?
Word of mouth is one of the strongest drivers of our growth. Those who are enthusiastic about their membership with PURE and the service they receive share their experiences with their friends and neighbors, helping to grow our membership organically. We were honored to have been recognized by the Family Wealth Report as the best insurer in our category and hope that this recognition will continue to elevate PURE in the marketplace.