The Company Shaping the Future of Real Estate Insurance

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In this interview, Julien Bonneville, the CEO and Founder of TheGuarantors, talks about his experience creating new insurance products and financial solutions for residential and commercial real estate professionals, as well as their residents and tenants.

Keep reading to learn how TheGuarantors is reshaping the real estate ecosystem by taking risk out of the leasing process through intelligent underwriting, better data, and a deep bench of risk, real estate and financial expertise.

What were the biggest opportunities and trends you saw in the market that influenced the decision to build TheGuarantors?

I was born in France and moved to New York to pursue an MBA at Columbia not knowing how hard it would be to qualify for an apartment, both as a student and as an international citizen. I soon learned that many New Yorkers face the same struggle when hunting for an apartment; there are higher credit and income requirements than in almost any other US city, which meant that nearly a quarter of all applications were rejected.

As I started to dig into the issue, I learned that the underwriting which landlords were performing on their applicants was very strict and led to the rejection of valid potential renters. Though it was understandable that landlords would want to protect themselves against risk, it was clear that the solutions they were using were massively inefficient.

I started TheGuarantors in 2015 to solve both the renter and landlord pain points, helping more people qualify for apartments in a more efficient way using both data and technology.

From there, we built a residential business that offers three core products for the industry. Our Dynamic Lease Guarantee provides protection that matches the landlord’s risk appetite with the risk profile of the applicant, at a cost equal to or less than one month’s rent. We also offer a Security Deposit Replacement that is less expensive than a traditional deposit, as well as Renter’s Insurance Compliance, to help landlords confirm their renters are properly insured. And for commercial landlords and tenants we offer Securiti, a smarter commercial security deposit for office leases.

TheGuarantors focuses on providing innovative solutions for the residential & commercial rental markets. How is this different from other parts of the insurance industry?

We are here to serve the real estate ecosystem, first and foremost. What makes us unique as an insurtech is that we are not necessarily coming from an insurance background and trying to force-fit an existing product into the industry. Instead, we design our insurance solutions in-house to best address market needs.

We have found that we bring not only a differentiated value proposition to our customers, but also to our carrier partners. We’re more than just a broker or agent, we have an expert team of data scientists driving more intelligent underwriting, dedicated risk mitigation resources for claims management, legal expertise in both insurance and real estate, and a customer success team with decades of real estate experience. We provide a true turnkey experience for the carrier, helping them access a new market with the assurance that this is a business built to last.

How have you managed to scale and expand your company?

We rely on the existing real estate ecosystem in order to distribute our solutions, all of which come at no cost to the landlords and brokers. We empower stakeholders to speed up the leasing process, increase the applicant pool, and lower vacancy, all of which have a positive impact on the top and bottom line. For tenants, we create options. For landlords, we worry about risk so they don’t have to–which positively impacts their relationships with other stakeholders, like lenders.

Because of all the benefits we provide, we’ve found our relationships are built less through a sales process and more through partnership development. Our program has evolved and expanded because we are in many cases co-creating new solutions with our stakeholders to meet new and changing needs. We’re excited to see what that looks like as we continue to grow.

We are always adopting new technologies to drive growth and streamline processes - whether that is leveraging new data sets or adopting artificial intelligence to improve our underwriting.

What are the key changes you have seen in the industry since you started TheGuarantors?

When I founded the company in 2015, the concepts of “insurtech” and “proptech” were just emerging. Today, both of these verticals are heavily funded and transforming the insurance and real estate industries at an almost daily rate.

We are also seeing increasing interest in innovation and openness to change across all of our stakeholders. On the insurance side, we now have multiple partnerships with carriers such as Chubb, The Hanover Insurance Group, Arch Insurance Group and United Casualty & Surety Insurance Company, which are eager to embrace innovation and test new products in order to serve their customers in new ways.

Similarly, our landlord partners have a much larger appetite for innovation compared to a few years ago. They are much more inclined to adopt our new financial products and are even looking to us to guide them towards new solutions to meet their challenges. Particularly in highly regulated markets like New York, third party insurance programs like ours are increasingly important tools for landlords to ease their operational and risk burdens.

How do you see your company evolving in the future? Are you planning to utilize emerging technologies or launch new initiatives?

As a company, our mission is to fuel opportunity and financial advantage for everyone involved in residential and commercial leasing. We sit at the intersection of insurance, real estate, banking, technology and analytics, and have all the necessary expertise to keep ahead of the market and innovate.

The most recent example of this is Securiti, a smarter security deposit for office leases, that makes clunky and expensive tools, like letters of credit, things of the past. Securiti costs a fraction of the price of a traditional security package of cash or a letter of credit and it provides landlords with exactly the kind of coverage that they have come to expect. Historically, we have launched more than one product a year and we expect to maintain that pace.

In addition, we are always adopting new technologies to drive growth and streamline processes – whether that is leveraging new data sets or adopting artificial intelligence to improve our underwriting. To be the most trusted brand for insurance products in the real estate industry, it is imperative that we seek out and stay ahead of what’s new and what’s coming next.


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Bradley Collins

Bradley Collins