Over the past few months, I have received many inquiries regarding the new trend in companies offering free appraisal software programs that come with insurance quotes and coverage offers. The two main players are BriteCo™ and Jewelers Mutual Zing™, with BriteCo being the first on the market share battlefield with this concept. When I first reviewed BriteCo a few months ago, I was indeed impressed with their concept and delivery systems. Over the months, however, serious questions have surfaced about BriteCo operations, particularly some of their information and pricing sources. With the addition of Jewelers Mutual Zing to the playing field, I thought it might be wise to do additional research and comparison of the two, just to see which of these has the better program. Here is what I found…
The Insurance Facts of this Free Appraisal Programs
Before we review the players, we need to establish one important fact: These are not appraisals, they are applications for insurance coverage. Jewelers using either of these programs do not magically become expert appraisers, regardless of market claims made. Computer programs do not an expert appraiser make, training and experience are the keys to become an expert jewelry appraiser. Both programs, regardless of the marketing hype, are insurance applications disguised as free appraisal software. The free appraisal software schtick is simply a way to circumvent the insurance agents who sell jewelry insurance, and instead place the retail jeweler in that position. The insurers are putting marketing tools in the guise of appraisal software at the point of sale of jewelry stores, a rather brilliant method to let retail jewelers sell insurance for them.
Here is the comparison:
BriteCo is new in the insurance industry, having been founded by a third-generation retail jeweler with no insurance experience.
BriteCo is a General Lines insurance agency licensed in Texas in 2018. They take applications for personal property insurance policies using a point of sale program touted as appraisal software. They are not insurers.
Policies are underwritten and issued by HDI Global Insurance Company, an insurer of industrial lines coverage based in Hannover, Germany.
Jewelers Mutual is a “mutual” formed insurance company, formed by U.S. jewelers in 1913 for the purpose of providing the specific needs of jewelers for specialized insurance coverage. Jewelers Mutual is the insurance company, not just an insurance agency. This means that claims handling is done by JM Specialty Insurance Company. See below for verification.
For their insurance values BriteCo has partnered with the International Gem Society. The problem here is that the IGS was founded on fake and falsified gemological credentials. The IGS is a single owner LLC (accoprding to D&B) with very limited experience, leading an organizations with a very shady past.
Jewelers Mutual has partnered with Gemworld International, a well establishing industry resource for gemstone pricing through the famous GemGuide™ . A highly respected appraisal industry value resource with decades of established trust.
I could go on and on, but I think everyone is getting the point. The problems with BriteCo have become myriad. Selling insurance to consumers at the point of sale is a wonderful idea. But it requires experienced insurance professionals with a solid underwriting and claims structure capable of handling the unique needs of personal property in the form of jewelry.
BriteCo is just another insurance agency. They sell insurance. I don’t care that they are third generation jewelers, they are still first generation insurance sellers. After reading things like covering “125% over appraisal”, and things of that nature their whole program just reeks of P.T. Barnum smoke and mirrors. If I really got into the misrepresentations of their schtick this report would get quite serious legally. They make claims that I personally believe should be investigated by the Texas Department of Insurance. But that is another story for another time.
Jewelers Mutual and Gemworld International have many decades of jewelry specific experience and history. They also have developed a free point of sale insurance application program that they are calling “free appraisal software”. I understand that. Sometimes to compete in a market you have to call a cat a dog. But the cat is still a cat.
The “free appraisal software” offers are indeed just point of sale insurance coverage applications. The only difference is with the Jewelers Mutual program you get a real insurance company, real coverage and real professionals
With BriteCo you get an insurance agent trying to be an insurance company.
As a state licensed Property and Casualty Insurance Adjuster, I strongly recommend the Jewelers Mutual Program over the BriteCo program.
One may still be a cat, but the other is indeed a dog.
Robert James FGA, GG
President, International School of Gemology
Property and Casualty Adjuster, Texas Department of Insurance #1300433
Global Jewelry Claims Associates
Member: National Association of Independent Insurance Adjusters