Startup Aims to Bring LatAm Insurers Online

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA (07/10/2000) - As proof that hard times aren't scaring entrepreneurial spirits from betting on Latin America's Internet market, a startup will officially launch on Tuesday an online insurance store for Latin Americans and U.S. Hispanics.

Vida Segura Inc. will announce on Tuesday that it is ready to sell insurance policies to consumers in Chile, Colombia, México, Ecuador, Argentina and Brazil via its FuturoSeguro.com online store. During the coming weeks, the company will add more countries to that list, including the U.S., where the company will target Hispanics, said Mike Farmer, the company's chief executive officer.

Farmer worked for about 15 years at American Express Co., most recently as head of new business development for the company's Global Network Services division.

He was also head of finance for American Express Consumer Financial Services Division.

Although many Latin America-focused Internet startups are running out of cash and an imminent market shakeout and consolidation is expected, startups such as Vida Segura continue sprouting up in the barren landscape.

The small Miami-based company will join a crowded field of banks, insurance companies and financial supermarkets selling not only insurance but a wide variety of financial products and services to Latin Americans and U.S.

Hispanics via the Internet as well as offline.

Vida Segura expects that its FuturoSeguro.com store to stand out from the crowd by making it easy and simple for people to buy policies online, Farmer said.

For example, consumers will be able to not only apply for coverage at the FuturoSeguro Web site, but also, if approved, to complete the transaction and obtain the policy online, said Farmer, "We want to make the insurance purchase process as easy as possible," he said.

In addition to its FuturoSeguro.com consumer-oriented Web site, the Vida Segura plans to do business with companies that want to sell insurance along with their products, such as online travel agencies, Farmer said.

The company now has seven employees in its Miami headquarters, and plans to open offices throughout Latin America. It has raised about $1 million in seed money, mostly from Latin American Access, a Miami-based incubator of Latin America-focused Internet startups, and is working on its first round of financing, he added.

Farmer expects the company to be profitable in less than three years.

Vida Segura isn't an insurance company itself, but rather features products and services from insurance companies.

"We bring together products and services from a range of reputable carriers into a Web-based environment," Farmer said.

Some of the insurers whose products are featured on the FuturoSeguro.com site are the Ace Group of Companies, based in the Bahamas and Philadelphia, The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Best Meridian Insurance, based in Coral Gables, Florida, and Assurance Group, also based in Coral Gables, Florida, Farmer said. FuturoSeguro.com features a variety of policies, such as life, travel, disability and homeowners insurance.

Vida Segura, in Miami, can be reached at 1-305-961-3900 http://www.futuroseguro.com/.

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