The funding round was led by Gradient Ventures
Boston-based insurtech Openly announced just before Thanksgiving that it had secured approximately $7.65M in a seed round of funding led by Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI-focused venture fund. On the heels of that announcement, the company also announced its official debut in two states Illinois and Arizona. While the company has not officially entered the Bay State yet, many of our readers may remember our March 2018 profile of the company’s founders, both of whom are longtime Massachusetts insurance professionals. See Agency Checklists’ article of March 6, 2018, “‘Openly’ For Business: A Massachusetts Insurtech Betting On Independent Agents As The Future.”
Openly’s co-founders have deep ties to Boston, and its insurance and technology ecosystems. Co-founder and CEO Ty Harris is an MIT alum and a credentialed actuary who previously served as Chief Product Officer at Liberty Mutual. His co-founder and CTO, Matt Wielbut, served as the VP of Technology at Goldman Sachs and also ran his own successful retail insurance agency. Openly was started to help independent agents sell insurance better.
Betting on independent agents
“Some people in the tech world think that the term ‘insurance agent’ refers to a relic of the past, but they’re wrong,” said Ty Harris, CEO and Co-Founder of Openly. “At Openly, we know agents add value by delivering objective advice and options to their clients. Our goal is to help agents as they work to modernize their businesses. We let them offer their customers better, faster and more economical products with comprehensive insurance protection for a wide range of needs. We’re pleased to have the support of such heavyweight investors and reinsurers to fuel our rapid growth into 2020 and beyond.”
According to a 2019 report from the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, 35% of consumers choose to shop through independent agents. These agents, representing multiple companies, recommend insurance carriers and coverages to consumers based on their specific insurance needs. While most insurtech startups are focused on selling insurance directly to consumers without agents and the experienced counsel they offer, Openly sells its up-market home insurance exclusively through independent insurance agents.
Three questions can get an agent a high-value homeowner quote in twenty seconds
Openly’s first product is a premium homeowners insurance product designed for customers who value broad, innovative and responsive coverage. Openly writes its policies on a comprehensive contract that is unique in the industry. This contract provides more complete coverage and covers more loss types. The Openly product contains many uncommon features like guaranteed replacement cost on the home up to $5 million, endorsements to cover home-sharing, optional coverage to insure losses arising from cyber bullying, and true coverage customization that isn’t available in most contracts. The company is also adding flood and umbrella liability coverages as endorsements on its homeowner policies. This product is currently available in Illinois and Arizona.
Openly offers state of the art technology, improved products, sophisticated pricing, and lead generation support to help independent insurance agents meet their customers’ evolving needs. By leveraging emerging data sources, next-generation predictive models, and artificial intelligence, Openly sets a new standard for quoting high-value homes by enabling agents to generate firm quotes for their customers in less than 20 seconds. Also, with Openly, agents and their customers can receive a bindable quote on a highly-valued home with just three questions answered.
Openly is coming to Massachusetts soon
With its new capital base, Openly plans to expand at a rapid speed by adding Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Tennessee in the next few months, and four additional states in the near future. The company also will launch complementary product lines, such as automobile insurance, with a focus on simplifying and modernizing the process for consumers.
An investor’s opinion
“The expertise that Ty and Matt share makes them the perfect team to tackle the challenge of modernizing home insurance. Openly offers a combination of pricing sophistication, cutting edge technology, insurance expertise, and innovation that is unparalleled in the industry,” said Zachary Bratun-Glennon, Partner at Gradient Ventures. Openly is also backed by other investors and reinsurers, such as Greenlight Re, PJC, Techstars Ventures, and The Hanover Insurance Group.
One agent’s opinion
“Openly is a fantastic business partner. Its combination of product and technology is unique in the marketplace, provides top tier coverage, and is something that our agents and customers are really embracing. Openly is at the forefront of bringing new technology and product simplicity to the independent agency channel,” said Tom Ward, President and Owner of the Chicago-based Thomas Ward Insurance Group.