Hippo targets techies with refined homeowners product

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Like most insurtech startups, the recently launched homeowners company Hippo Insurance bets on speed and simple digital distribution to give customers the services they want.

“Experts call us and other insurtech companies ‘disruptors’, but we don’t look at it that way,” says Rick McCathron, head of insurance at Hippo. “Millennials want [to buy] products differently. That’s the segment that is growing and buying their first homes and we think we fill that void better than anyone else.”

Hippo offers a 60-second quoting tool and three-minute home policy buying experience. It works with third-party vendors to retrieve basic information asked of policyholders by agents to auto-fill applications, thereby limiting the amount of questions it needs to ask, McCathron says.

Using its technology, Hippo sells coverage to home and condo owners around appliances and home office equipment used heavily today, instead of “outdated” pewter bowls or stock certificates typically included in policies, the company says. Each new member also receives a water-leak detection IoT device.

“By alerting and correcting small issues, we will have better underwriting results and small claims as opposed to large claims,” said McCathron.

After a policy is purchased, Hippo uses push notifications to warn customers of catastrophic events to help mitigate risk. McCathron says the California-based startup used the majority of its $14 million funding round back in December to build out its policy admin, website, and user experience. In the future, Hippo also plans to bring claims operations, currently overseen by TOPA Insurance, in-house.

Despite its reliance on tech, there is still a human element to Hippo’s business. In case a home becomes unlivable, the company depends on call center agents to find customers temporary lodging. Clients are also encouraged to call in at the time of purchase.

“You can’t provide a top customer experience in a completely automated format,” McCathron says. “We believe in adding a human face to our experience when needed.”

Hippo launched in California on Apr. 27 and plans to make its product available to 90% of the U.S. population by the end of 2018.

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