Ethos Insurance

Weekly Disruptor: Ethos

Weekly Disruptor: Insurance with a Heart and Rockstar Backing

What do Jay Z, Will Smith, and Robert Downey Jr. all have in common? No, it’s not a new Hollywood blockbuster. It’s Life Insurance. Yes, Life Insurance.

I know how that sounds, how can something as uncool as insurance be backed by some of the coolest people in the world?

The answer is Ethos.

Can Ethical Insurance Exist?

Ethos is a San Francisco startup that sells life insurance only through online channels, no brick & mortar office buildings here. The company has been trying to disturb the FinTech insurance industry since it launched in 2016.

Ethos was created by two Stanford MBA graduates, who saw a need to help younger generations secure life insurance.

Ethos wants to upend the current insurance model that focuses on selling the most expensive policies. The company envisions a future where policies aren’t determined by the money an agent makes.

Changing the Model with AI

Ethos’ CEO, Peter Colis, wants to change that. “The industry has an older male life insurance agent selling to older male clients who can afford expensive permanent life insurance that’s not good for 97% of Americans. We’re finding all sorts of people use this product instead of traditional life insurance.”

It takes about 10 minutes to sign-up for a policy with Ethos. Also, most clients don’t even need a medical exam; the company instead uses AI and self-reported data to determine the best policy. Most policies are issued real-time, making it a convenient option for people on the go.

99% of our customers had no required medical exam, blood test or traditionally lengthy approval process, using software, we can help large numbers of customers at scale, regardless of their policy size,” explained Colis in an interview with Think Advisor.

Currently, 41% of Americans have no life insurance policy, despite that 70% of American’s believe it’s a financial necessity.

We think of Ethos as what Northwestern Mutual has done for the past 100 years; Ethos is going to do for the next 150 years, protecting generations and generations of families to come,” Colis states.

Funding Increase

Ethos’ is currently not profitable, but that hasn’t stopped it from being an investors darling. They’ve secured $100 million in funding in three rounds.

In its first round, Ethos raised $11.5 million, that included Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and Robert Downey Jr.’s Downey Ventures.

During its Series C round, Ethos raised $60 million with significant contributions from Google Ventures and Goldman Sachs.

The company currently only offers term life insurance but hopes to branch out into more products by 2020.


If Ethos stays committed to its vision of creating “Life insurance, the human way,” then they will be one of the first Insurtech companies to focus on the customer first and the finances second.

It’s important to note that even though the company has quadrupled its revenue, it’s yet to make a profit. And as Jay Z likes to rap in his song Moment of Clarity, “I can’t help the poor if I’m one of them.”

Time will tell if Ethos sticks to its ethics or is forced to make drastic changes to earn a profit.