OMERS Ventures
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OMERS Ventures

Making the Job Site a Safer Place

By Michael Yang

There are instances in life when the stars align and you feel the opportunity was purpose built for you. That’s how I felt about Foresight Commercial Insurance, the workers compensation managing general underwriter, where we just led a $39M Series B.

First, a little context on workers compensation as it’s probably not top of mind for you. Workers compensation is the grand bargain struck between employers and workers as the exclusive remedy for a workplace injury or illness in the US. It is mandatory and regulated on a state by state basis. Foresight provides this type of insurance to middle market businesses in the construction, agriculture, manufacturing and industrial industries. These are “hard to place” industries — insurance speak for “not the type of risk/loss that every insurer wants to take on.”

Given the nature of the physical work and the potential for injuries on a construction site, in a field, or in a plant, it’s easy to see how this insurance line is not for every underwriter. Yet, for these industries, workers comp is a critical business decision given the order of magnitude of the expense (annual premium), and the exposure, the long term obligation to look after an injured worker.

We first came across the workers compensation market through our health tech investment in PeerWell, the whole person virtual clinic for musculoskeletal care. PeerWell serves employees in industries like grocery and retail, helping them manage their physical pain and surgical episodes stemming from on the job incidents. We deepened our appreciation for workers comp through our interactions with Paradigm, an OMERS Private Equity investment that looks after catastrophically injured workers and their families. More recently, we’ve been pursuing an insurtech investment thesis that my colleague, Dave Wechsler, calls “Coverage + Enabling Technology” — emerging insurance solutions that bring to bear “proactive loss avoidance” tools and technology so that insurance is truly a risk management solution, as opposed to a traditional loss management product.

Foresight’s crown jewel is its Safesite mobile application that every policyholder has access to — the enabling technology that proactively tries to deter losses. Use of Safesite has been substantiated to reduce workplace incident frequency by over 30%. This is because app usage along with Safesite’s entire safety success protocol is driving behavioral change among workers and leading to a safer work environment. Fewer incidents leads to fewer injuries which leads to less risk and more savings to the bottom line. That’s a value proposition that we can get behind.

Founders, David Fontain and Peter Grant, had a unique journey to now and their commitment to this mission was also core to our desire to partner with them. The origins of Foresight as a safety management/hazard management SaaS solution for the construction industry really spoke to us. Not only do we have a vibrant proptech investment focus that looks at construction tech, but we get vertical SaaS (see OV’s overall portfolio) and have observed some SaaS businesses evolve and become more “fintech-ish” in recent times. In many ways, Foresight could be characterized in this vein. So that’s why I say Foresight just made sense for OMERS Ventures.

The insurance industry is going through changes and we are constantly looking for insurtech investments that can drive even more change. To that end, we are excited to partner with existing investors Builders VC and Brick and Mortar Ventures to support the Foresight team as they expand into new states and bring their safety solution to more businesses.

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OMERS Ventures

OMERS Ventures

OMERS Ventures is a multi-stage VC investor in growth-oriented, disruptive tech companies across North America and Europe.