(Image source: Haven Life.)
Editor’s Note: For more detail, please see also our companion piece: Q&A: John Latona on Haven Life’s Experience Redesign.
Haven Life, the New York-based life insurance online, direct distribution startup owned by MassMutual (Springfield, Mass.), has announced a redesign of its insurance buying experience, including actually rating rather than merely quoting in response to an application, a new look for the site, a shortened application, and optimization for all devices.
The redesigned Haven Life brand and experience represents where Haven Life has progressed to as a company, having incorporated what it has learned over the past few years, according to John Latona, General Manager, Haven Life.
“When we initially launched, our goal was to successfully adapt the offline insurance buying process to being online, which worked very well for an initial launch, but we’ve always had bigger ambitions,” Latona explains. “With our latest version of Haven Life, we’ve really re-imagined the process to be something that is truly meant for a technology solution. This new experience is really us taking our learnings and raising the bar for what a truly customer-centric approach to life insurance looks like.”
Fresh, Modern & Trustworthy
Haven Life refers to its customer experience’s new visual identity as fresh, modern and trustworthy, which the company has identified as key attributes today’s life insurance buyers value. Though the company says its brand has undergone a “strategic overhaul,” it stresses that its principles remain unchanged: “to make life less hard.”
As a startup, the culture at Haven Life is centered around constant innovation, according to Latona. “We’ll always be considering and reconsidering what we can do to make our experience better and to continue making our policyholders’ lives less hard,” he reinforces. “So, in some ways, we kind of knew this project would happen when we launched two years ago.”
The redesign project officially started about a year ago because it required many enhancements and, as Latona puts it, “it took a village to make happen.”
“We had people revisiting things such as our brand identity, what the end-to-end experience would look like with no set expectations—this is where real rate comes—and opportunities to reduce application questions. In this new site, we even made updates and investments in our tech stack so that we can build software at an enterprise scale and started running a machine learning model to speed up final rates for people who take a medical exam.”
Haven Life’s work provides a good example for other insurers who need to fundamentally rethink key business processes, including new business capabilities, according Rob McIsaac, Senior VP of Research and Consulting, Novarica (Boston). “Consumers are now well-versed in what good, intuitive, customer experiences look like, from dealing with other aspects of their financial lives,” he comments. “Insurance carriers across all lines of business should increasingly trust their peripheral vision and understand how capabilities that have proven effective in high transaction business, such as banking, can be applied. MassMutual’s approach appears to be consistent with this think as it drives toward that dramatic change in experience.
Leapfrogging to Modern Capabilities
Haven Life’s advances in the insurance buying experience also serve as an example of how the acquisition of startups can help insurers to leapfrog to modern capabilities, McIsaac notes. “At times, internal startups can provide the pathway forward,” he says. “In other cases, going outside and looking at true independent startups as partners or the use a venture-capital-like investment money can make a significant difference as a carrier looks to transition capabilities and business models more rapidly.”
Whether by leapfrogging with the aid of startups or by any other means, change is urgently needed in the life insurance industry, stresses Tom Scales, Head of Celent’s (Boston), Americas, Life and Health Insurance Practice. “What other industry won’t give you a firm price and deliver the product until six weeks after you apply?” he asks.
“Haven Life has been at the forefront of changing the business model with instant underwriting decisioning and delivery,” Scales notes. “Initially they reserved the right to full underwriting after the fact, and now they are making firm decisions in a much shorter period of time.”
Speed of transactions is a key expectation of Millennials—they expect them to be as easy as the transaction they had earlier in the day on Amazon, Scales advises.
Shaking Up Insurance Organizations
Speaking to Insurance Innovation Reporter from the Insuretech Connect conference in Las Vegas, Scales asserts that attendance at the event from last year to this has gone from mostly investors and startup entrepreneurs to also hosting a significant proportion of C-level insurance executives. “They’re here to find out how they can shake up their business differently rather than be content with evolutionary change within their organization—and that can be as simple as licensing software, or it can involve investing in a startup or both,” Scales says.
Insurance companies are actually changing the culture of their organizations, Scales adds. “They’re encouraging people at all levels to come forward with new ways they can do business, and they’re listening to them,” he says. “And MassMutual is certainly at the forefront of that.”