As tech stocks dip, is insurtech startup Root targeting an IPO?

During the week’s news cycle one particular bit of reporting slipped under our radar: Root Insurance is tipped by Reuters to be prepping an IPO that could value the neo-insurance provider at around $6 billion.

Coming after two 2020 insurtech IPOs, Root’s steps towards the public markets are not surprising. But they are good news all the same for a number of insurance startups that have raised lots of capital and will eventually need to prepare their own debuts if they don’t find a larger corporate home.

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The Root IPO will also help clarify Lemonade’s own public offering and ensuing valuation. Lemonade’s debut brought a strong price to the rental-focused insurance provider, leading to a more buoyant attitude towards the valuation of its class of startups. More precisely, the public price assigned to Lemonade when it floated was, no bullshit, very bullish.

If Root can repeat the feat it would cast a warm light on the yet-private players in its niche that will have their eyes pinned to the flotation. Names like MetroMile and Hippo could be next if Root’s IPO goes well.

But, first, does Root make sense at a $6 billion valuation? We can do a little digging on that this morning, using Lemonade’s present-day valuation to get a handle on the figure. Let’s go!

Root’s valuation in a Lemonade world

Before we get into the numbers, bear in mind that we’re going to compare apples and oranges today, and that we’ll have to use some dated numbers as well. That said, we can still get somewhere about what Root could be worth. So, roll with me but don’t take every number as engraved onto an obelisk.

Back in July of this year, in the wake of the Lemonade IPO and Hippo’s latest funding round, a $150 million investment at a $1.5 billion post-money valuation, we started to do some math. Lemonade’s valuation was much richer than Hippos’ when you look at their multiples, which got us thinking about private and public neo-insurance provider valuations: why was Lemonade worth so much more than its peers per dollar of written premium?

To better understand the situation, we dug up some 2019 data on the dollar value of gross written premium Hippo and Lemonade wrote and found new valuation multiples for them based on those numbers. Lemonade was worth 28.4x its Q1 annualized gross written premium, while Hippo was worth just 5.6x its own.

Then we also found Root and MetroMile gross written premium numbers for 2019, which allowed us to calculate their own effective valuations (albeit using dated numbers).

As before when we found that Hippo’s private valuation looked light compared to Lemonade’s public valuation when we contrasted their valuation/gross written premium multiple, we discovered that MetroMile and Root also looked cheap. Very cheap.

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