A Toronto-based startup that began as a digital gateway between people and various healthcare providers is now offering insurance plans to businesses, the company announced on Wednesday.

League Inc. is adding insurance products to the health benefits program it opened up to employers earlier this year. It’s working with RBC Insurance to underwrite its insurance products, including a “peace-of-mind plan” that provides coverage for unexpected emergencies, and other group insurance plans that include coverage for accidental death and dismemberment, and disability coverage.

With the insurance plans comes a new subsidiary, League Insurance Agency Inc. League first got its start in November 2014, launching its personal wellness portal for consumers. Serbinis, previously a founder of the Kobo e-books business, describes the startup’s mission to empower people to be healthy every day.

Since the start of 2016, he finds more often that working through employers is the best way to do that.

“Actually employers reached out to us,” he says. “We’ve learned the best way to achieve that mission is by providing a better benefit solution to small businesses.”

League started by offering an employer portal that included a digital wallet feature, allocating spending for health and wellness accounts that employees could spend as they saw fit on the dozens of healthcare providers on League’s platform – covering the gamut from acupuncture to yoga. Workplaces can also organize for certain providers to come to their office location, such as to get everyone immunized for flu season for example.

“By the time summer rolled around, we had overwhelming demand from our customers to offer health insurance and really complete health benefits,” he says.

Many employers in Canada don’t offer extended healthcare coverage to their employees, and for businesses with less than 100 employees, it’s rare to do so. To cater to this market, League is offering “a-la-carte” options, Serbinis says. Plus, it’s focusing on offering a straight-forward and all-digital user experience.

“Small businesses are increasingly filled with digital native, millennial employees and that is something that we know very well,” he says.

League conducted a competitive process to select its insurance partner and ultimately selected RBC Insurance for a variety of reasons. Among them was competitive pricing, but it wasn’t the most important factor.

“What mattered the most was finding a partner that shared our vision about the future of healthcare,” Serbinis says. “A partner that could move fast because that’s something we do as a startup.”

Rather than act as an insurance broker, League is having RBC act as an underwriter of its insurance product so that it can control the data, Serbinis explains.

“Having the data and being able to make better recommendations for the consumer is the future of this industry,” he says. “If you don’t have the data, then you don’t have that option.”

League is compliant with the strict standards and regulations around personal health data in Canada, the CEO says. League mostly acts as a connector between its users and healthcare providers, and the encrypted data stored by its users is protected.

With the employee portal, employees will be able to manage their own personal health information using their own account without their employer being able to access that data. Employers would be able to see data at the aggregate level, to indicate in general how their health funds are being used and what products are most popular with workers.

League’s insurance for businesses is available across Canada starting today, except for Quebec. More regulatory work and providing French language service will have it launching there early in the New Year.

 

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