Insurance is one of those markets where startups see an opportunity to apply new technologies and data to lower costs and improve the consumer experience. And Kin Insurance is one of those startups that thinks it can do a better job of helping homeowners in particular get insured.
Kin was founded by Sean Harper, Lucas Ward, Jason Heidkamp and Sebastian Villarreal, who combined have decades of experience at companies like Groupon, Rippleshot, Bright Policy and Avant. In many of those examples, the focus is on simplifying complicated financial systems through technology.
“I’ve been doing this theme of taking old-school financial products, putting them online, bringing new tech to bear and lowering the cost,” Harper told me. “When it comes to financial services, most people don’t want to think about it and the best thing I can do with tech is make it easier.”
As it relates to his new company, Harper says the company was looking for new opportunities for streamlining archaic processes. The team already knew payments and lending very well, but those areas were already a bit crowded. “Stripe and Square are great at payments, so I don’t think we need another payments company,” Harper said.
But insurance — and specifically property insurance — showed a lot of promise. There are a few reasons for that: For one thing, there’s a ton of data available about people and their homes that is not currently being leveraged by most traditional insurance underwriters. With that data, Kin can do a better job of risk assessment than the incumbents.
For the user, it also means a simplified process when applying for insurance. Because Kin grabs data from numerous online sources, it relies less on self-reported information from homeowners. And finally, that means a lot less overhead, since the assessment process is automated and doesn’t rely on brokers collecting information and passing it along to an insurance company.
“Usually it will take around an hour of form filling to get your application submitted… Depending on the situation, it can be another 6-10 communications to get the whole process done,” Harper said. “For us it’s just three clicks.”
Users simply enter their home address, at which point Kin pulls in data from outside sources and assesses the property. In the second step, the company offers up a few suggested coverage recommendations. Once a homeowner chooses the policy they want, the next page up is payment.
While the Kin Insurance team is based in the Chicago area, the first market it will be available to is Florida. Harper explains that the company will focus initially on places like Florida, North Carolina or Oklahoma, where hurricanes, tornadoes and other potential natural disasters allow it to apply data and risk models to differentiate itself.
Finally, to help get Kin off the ground, the team has raised $4.0 million from investors that include Commerce Ventures, Omidyar Network, 500 Startups, Chicago Ventures and Portag3 Ventures, as well as angels from tech and finance companies like Avant, Square, Capital One, LinkedIn and Facebook.
And now, with funding in place and its first market launched, Kin is ready to help change the way homeowners buy insurance.