Now You Can Buy Insurance on Demand—From an App

We’ve seen apps to hail a ride or book dinner reservation. Now there’s an app for buying insurance. A company called Sure, founded a little more than a year ago, is out to change how we purchase insurance. The company has developed an app for consumers to purchase on-demand individual accident, life, property, casualty, and warranty insurance policies. Like those other apps, the company hopes to revolutionize the way insurance is sold.

It’s the world’s first on-demand insurance tailored to the consumers’ needs, says co- founder and CEO, Wayne Slavin from his office in New York City.  The Sure app and its Robo-Broker technology learns about you over time and recommends the insurance for you at that moment of need.

For example, when you arrive at an airport, it will send you a notification to tell you that insurance is available until departure, so that you don’t need to remember every time. Previously you’d need to buy the insurance when you booked your reservation.

Flight insurance is the first application of many more to come, says Slavin. The company is introducing new products over the next few months that will not only cover travel needs, including car rental insurance, but products that go beyond conventional policies.

Nearly ready to roll out is a protection plan for your iPhone. First, the app will actually diagnose your phone to ensure it’s in good working condition and then offer a variety of coverage options right on the spot, at a cost based on the phone’s condition and model. Supposedly it can even detect the condition of the screen.

The cost of their insurance is about one half to a third the cost of other policies purchased from the normal insurance companies, according to Slavin.

Sure sells policies for  specific short duration events; they call it Episodic Insurance, with prices established based on the context and information gathered through the customer’s mobile device, with their permission. The insurance currently being sold covers such things as a single flight or a single car rental. But the company is also planning to sell a variety of traditional insurance products, such as renter’s insurance, pet insurance, life insurance, etc.

The company says that because it’s so easy to purchase, it will increase the number of people who buy insurance. Customers will also be able to use their app to manage, update, and make claims without contacting an agent, making reimbursement quicker.

“While the industry has been talking about context-based and on-demand insurance, Sure is the first, and has already sold thousands of policies to customers through our mobile app,” said Slavin. “With our new Robo-Broker technology we’ve created the first artificial intelligence-powered insurance platform in the world, bringing an unprecedented level of service and personalization to customers globally — empowering them to make smart life decisions about their insurance needs.”

I tried the product on a recent trip, a one-hour Southwest Airlines flight from San Diego to Oakland. I entered the flight number and date while at the gate and was able to purchase a $100,000 policy for under $10.

The design of the app allows Sure to optimize the products they offer to each unique customer through a simple, mobile chat interaction in the Sure app and other chat platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Telegram, and WhatsApp. The personalized service gives customers the opportunity to discover coverage needs that they had not realized they could benefit from, in addition to browsing the one that they intended to purchase.

Sure may be onto something, with apps helping us do so many tasks. The insurance business is huge: In 2014, insurance agents and brokers made $300 billion in commission revenue. But industry statistics show that millennials don’t purchase insurance at the same high rate as did their their parents at the same age. Perhaps the availability of this app will make this tech savvy group more receptive to buying insurance and create a way to reach this untapped market.

Can you trust a startup to sell you insurance? Yes, the company says, because the policies are are actually underwritten by some of the biggest insurers in the world. The app is free and is available currently for the iPhone.

by Phil Baker