Hi Marley Raises $8M From Investors to Streamline Insurance With AI

Insurance tech startup Hi Marley has landed $8.7 million from True Ventures and Underscore VC to extend its conversational AI tools to help people buy and manage their policies.

The Boston company is also working with insurance broker Aon (NYSE: AON) to move into more complicated sectors of business insurance through a strategic partnership, according to Hi Marley co-founder and CEO Michael Greene.

Hi Marley has built a platform for insurance companies to use that lets them send some claim work to chatbot-type AI systems for resolution. Greene says the company works with clients to determine what kinds of conversations to hand over to the bots, and what sort of communications need to be always handled with a human touch. Customers, too, have input into whether they work with a robot or a human rep.

“For a simple glass claim or [if] you backed into your garage, you take a few photos and you’re done,” Greene tells Xconomy. “For a multi-car accident, you’re likely going to want to have a human voice.”

Interest in AI chatbots for the insurance industry has been booming in recent years, and space is growing crowded as companies like Insurify, Trov, Next Insurance, LeO, Lemonade, Allstate (NYSE: ALL), Snatchbot, and Avaamo all use AI products to streamline the back-and-forth communication of insurance work.

Founded in 2017, Hi Marley first focused on applying artificial intelligence and natural language processing to the often messy back-and-forth of insurance claims that can seem to drag on for customers seeking help after a car crash or damage to a home. The system is designed to plug into insurers’ existing systems.

Now, Greene says the company is looking to envelop the entire insurance experience, from shopping to purchasing a plan, updating policies, and making claims. He also hopes to connect the system with the 100,000 other agents, adjusters, body shops and others that are involved in working through an insurance claim.

Another area of interest for Hi Marley is doing what it can to avoid claims from happening at all, Greene says. The idea is to help insurers nudge customers with text messages, emails, or app alerts to take proactive measures—such as putting on snow tires or cleaning gutters—to prevent bad things from happening.

Greene says the system kicked in last year in the wake of Hurricane Florence’s arrival in September.

“Minutes after the storm passed, they sent out text messages with safety and mitigation tips, facilitating first contact and information about inspecting homes, all before humans were even touching claims,” Greene says. “When you need the empathetic voice, the AI kicks out and it turns into human mode.”

True Ventures partner Puneet Agarwal is joining Hi Marley’s board as part of the funding round. He says the company’s system “automates the claims process while still maintaining a very human element.”

Brian Dowling is a Senior Editor at Xconomy, based in Boston. You can reach him at bdowling [at] xconomy.com. Follow @be_d

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