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Community & Culture

2019 Year in Review

We take a look back at all of our biggest moments in 2019, and see what's on the forecast for 2020.

by Team Onlia

It’s been a big year here at Onlia: we launched one of the first all-online auto insurance experiences in Ontario, took action in living our safety mission, and we’re putting the final touches on our home insurance product. It’s been an incredible year for our team; in what we accomplished, and the fun we had along the way. With our insurance offering in the market and major improvements to the Onlia Insurance™ app, we set a high-energy tone this year — and we’re set on keeping that momentum going in 2020.

Always safe, never sorry

Working together to make our roads safer

In 2019, Alex Kelly, road safety and transportation expert, joined our team to act as our dedicated steward for road safety. We’d collaborated on safety thought-leadership before, and we both saw something unique in each other — Alex brought years of experience in the safety sector, and she was excited to see a new company advocating for road safety and awareness in Canada. 

A leader in road safety, Alex has brought her unique perspective to Onlia, and is helping us forge ahead in our mission to change the way Canadians move. 

Alex Kelly on CP24

Keeping drivers (and riders) safe

As a safety advocate, the goal is to help all road users stay safer: including drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. And with an average of 74 cyclist deaths every year in Canada, helping to improving cyclist safety was one of the first areas we felt we could make a positive impact.

Switchback Cyclery, a non-profit organization whose goal is to develop an inclusive and bike-friendly community in Toronto, seemed like a good place to connect with the people who are affected the most by this issue. Cyclists from around the city gathered together to share stories of close calls and bad moves on the road, and shared tips on how each of us can do our part to make the roads a safe space for all users. Riders geared up with bright lights for a night ride through the downtown core, and took to the roads to raise awareness about road safety and the importance of staying visible, especially at night. 

Light up the night, bicycle with glowing wheels

After the ride, our cyclists shared stories and tips on how they stay safe as a community, and take safety into their own hands by claiming their space on the road and making themselves visible to drivers. 

Carpool with someone funny

Navigating around others on the road can be a challenge, and quite frustrating at times. When drivers act on that frustration and lash out at other road users, it can lead to unsafe behaviour, like tailgating. With gridlock traffic and kilometres of irate commuters across the country, we wondered: if drivers were happier, would they be safer? We put our theory to the test in our aptly titled Calmedy Commute

In a real-world, data-driven experiment, we observed the behaviours and driving patterns of commuters across the GTA on a regular day, and again when they listened to a specially curated playlist comprised of some of our favourite comedians. Turns out, being happy really does make you safer: drivers were 10% less likely to accelerate aggressively, maximum speeds went down by more than 5 km/hr, and distracted driving decreased by an incredible 66%. 

Is laughter the best medicine for curing road rage? We certainly saw positive results here. 

Cars in traffic

We’re committed to keeping you (and what you love) safe

We started the year off on a great note, launching our car insurance offering in February. Since then, we’ve been insuring drivers across Ontario, and our community of safety-first drivers continues to grow every day. From building our auto insurance product, getting our website up and running, and filling our Toronto office with team members to keep up the momentum, our team worked tirelessly to get our auto insurance off the ground – and the hard work didn’t stop when we went live.

If you’ve been with us from the beginning, you may have noticed that our website has quite a different look. We did a ton of research over the past year to learn more about how people use our website, and what works best for them. By continually looking at how our website is used — what people find helpful, and what they don't — we’re constantly improving as we go. Piece by piece, we've put together a more usable and better-looking site. If you thought it was easy to get covered before, you should see us now: 

Onlia home page on a smart phone

We’ve also been working on our home insurance, and we’re super excited that it’s almost ready for everyone. Our team is working their hardest to make sure it’s perfect, and we’re planning for a full release in early 2020. 

People on a couch looking at a tablet

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It pays to be safe 

Last year, we quietly launched the Onlia Insurance™ app, our safe driving app, slowly growing our user base as we honed our trip scoring system, improved usability and squashed bugs along the way. From those humble beginnings, the Onlia Insurance™ app has now been downloaded by almost 100K drivers, up from 908 just 12 months ago!  

Onlia Insurance™ app drivers are taking action to make our roads safer, and have the rewards to prove it. By completing safe-driving challenges — like making an undistracted trip, getting a perfect score on braking, or staying under speed limits — drivers can unlock badges and earn rewards for free stuff. And with almost 130K challenges completed, we’re proud that Onlia Insurance™ drivers are making a difference on our roads, and earning a bunch of rewards while they do it.

Our fast-growing numbers aren’t just a coincidence. Big changes have been made to our app to give users an overall better experience; we released a number of updates throughout the year that brought some major improvements. Dark mode was introduced, and our user interface (UI) was completely overhauled to make things both easier, and prettier for drivers. 

Onlia Sense dashboard

Along with our partners, we also launched cashback rewards for the app this year! In addition to our rewards, drivers were also able to earn cashback for driving safely — a pretty sweet way for drivers to be recognized for their safe driving habits. Onlia insurance customers can earn cashback each month they maintain a good drive score. 

What’s on next year? Keep an eye out for Bluetooth capabilities, making it easier to accurately record your trips, and a brand-new leaderboard so you can keep an edge on the competition. 

At Onlia HQ

We couldn’t have achieved all that we did this year without the amazing people that make up the Onlia family. We were fortunate enough to welcome a number of new members this year; they’ve helped us take our digital experience to the next level, be more attentive to those who message us and call in, and have helped make drivers across the country safer.


Employees working in the Onlia office

We got out of the office a little to get involved in our community and live our mission; we attended a blood drive as a team, and teamed up with Holiday Helpers, a charity that sponsors lower-income families across toe GTA to give them an unforgettable holiday, near the end of the year to help prepare care packages for lower-income families in the area. 

While we’ve been hard at work this year, we also carved out some time to celebrate our wins together. We held our summer party out on the water to take advantage of the warm weather and picturesque skyline, and enjoyed the company of our fellow teammates with some fun games. Our holiday party was a blast (as usual), and we always enjoy celebrating birthdays in the office — even if that means eating more cake than we probably should. 

Onlia management team , smiling n holiday sweaters

As we reflect on the past year, we’re amazed by how far our community has come, and marvel at the idea of where we’ll be next year. Your commitment to making Canada’s roads the safest they can be is what drives our mission, and what keeps us going — so thank you. For your commitment, your support, and most of all, for being safe out there.


Team Onlia

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