Hippo considers the insurance industry to be particularly ripe for disruption. Cumbersome processes, slow response times, and a lack of transparency have dragged down customer engagement at many legacy players in the industry, in the view of Assaf Wand, Hippo’s co-founder and CEO, whom I interview below. According to Wand, who was previously the founder of Sabi, a collaboration with designer Yves Behar, and has been a consultant with McKinsey and an investor with Intel Capital, Hippo has created a “tech-informed but human-enhanced” model that Wand feels represents the insurance industry future.
Micah Solomon: How is the Hippo customer experience unique within the insurance industry and the broader consumer and service industry landscapes?
Assaf Wand, CEO and Co-Founder of Hippo: Within the home insurance industry, customer experience has not always been an area of focus, and, as a result, hasn’t evolved over time. At Hippo, we’re changing this-we’re in the process, we feel, of fundamentally redefining what people should expect from their home insurance company.
This includes such innovations as backfilling information into their applications from trusted data sources and ensuring the coverage in our policies is relevant for the types of homes and possessions people own today. We strive to complement this very best customer service, both on- and offline. We’re also working to proactively prevent our customers from experiencing problems in their homes: for example , by providing complimentary sensors that detect water leaks, smoke and carbon monoxide. We’re here to help prevent accidents or costly repairs, not just to assist them if these occur.
Solomon: Can you share your thoughts on the role of AI in the customer experience?
Wand: We use AI to enhance our customer’s experience from their very first interaction with Hippo and use these insights, where appropriate, throughout the duration of our relationship with clients.
It all starts when a customer visits Myhippo. com or calls our licensed sales teams to get a home insurance quote. Typically, in order to fill out a home insurance application, people are bombarded with a ton of detailed questions about the home (that require digging through contracts and paperwork to answer. But the reality is, almost all of this data is available publicly. We use big data and AI to aggregate and analyze property information and integrate it into our application process, which is fast and generally more accurate than the answers homeowners could give us. It’s the reason you can get a quote on our website in 60 seconds.
We also use AI to proactively analyze data that can help prevent customers from experiencing problems with their homes. AI reviews aerial imagery to help determine if a roof needs to be repaired or if brush is encroaching a fire line. It also keeps track of new building permits being issued so we can remind our customers to update their policies as they make changes to their homes.
Solomon: In an increasingly digital world, and a digitally focused company, how do you-at Hippo or in general-keep the human element of customer service a part of the equation?
Wand: In insurance, we’re commonly insuring someone’s largest financial asset and have to consider the emotional attachment that consumers have to their homes and belongings. Although we use more tech solutions than our competitors in the application process also to help customers mitigate risks in their homes, we swing the opposite way when it comes to customer care and claims.
We’ve framed our consumer experience around efficiency and tech alternatives during the application process, when speed and accuracy matter most. But , we realized that taking caring and helpful human beings out of the claims process, when our clients want us most, would be a huge mistake. Thus we set up a claims concierges staff that checks on our customer’s enjoyment safety upfront, managing everything from hotel keeps and cleaning crews, before pulling out the essential paperwork. And, we manage all our promises through a primary, single point of get in touch with – so there’s no pass away or voids in communication.
Solomon: Show me about your own entrepreneurial journey and how this led you to your current focus on the customer encounter.
Wand: Looking back, each of my personal diverse experiences up to this point taught me personally something new, which all play a part in the way i lead Hippo today.
I served since an officer in the Israeli Air Force to get 5 years, which instilled in me personally the importance of acting swiftly with certainty and the value of a small team of dedicated people. Then, after earning my personal MBA, I worked at McKinsey wherever I honed my strategic thinking abilities and learned how to bring clarity and structure to complex issues. Shortly after I actually founded a couple of telecom companies in rising markets, which made me a lot less afraid of controlled markets and gave me an appreciation to get the chaos of startups.
Most recently, I actually founded and eventually sold a high design company company focused on baby boomers (Sabi), where I actually learned how a deep customer understanding and focus can lead to the development of products that are really innovative and valuable to people.
Hippo is known as a culmination of all these experiences – concentrating on a massive regulated market where the current consumer experience is subpar, and a recently structured business can ignite an incredible modification for the better.
I learned throughout my pioneeringup-and-coming journey that focusing business strategy and decisions on the customer brings the best effects. Nothing compares to a loyal customer that will help you market your product through word of mouth marketing. And I sleep best at night when I understand I brought someone real value. Almost everything we do at Hippo starts and ends with the question “how will it deliver value to the customer? ”.
Solomon: What are several lessons you’ve learned as an entrepreneur which may serve budding entrepreneurs who will be reading this?
Wand: The two biggest entrepreneurial lessons for me to this point have been:
First, focus on the biggest market that excites you! I learned early in my entrepreneurial journal that you’ll have to work the same long hours and have the same level of dedication if you’re building a business within a small or big market. So , you might as well work on something that will have the biggest impact on the world and potential for growth.
Second, and at least as important, team, team, team. It’s essential to focus on finding the strongest people you can to help build out your team. A startup is very fragile and it’s fully dependent on the people, so aim high and don’t settle for anything less.