3 Questions with Assaf Wand of Hippo

Assaf Wand

FintekNews is pleased to offer our weekly feature column 3 Questions. Each week, we feature a thought leader within a unique sector of fintech and ask them to answer just 3 questions for our audience in their vernacular. This week, we’d like to introduce you to Assaf Wand of Hippo, an insurtech startup with a new approach to home insurance – it leverages big data, like municipal building records and innovative technology, such as satellite imagery and SmartHome devices, to streamline the quote and onboarding experience.

NAME: Assaf Wand
Co-Founder & CEO
WEB ADDRESS: www.myhippo.com

What area/s of fintech do you believe will grow the most in the coming 5 years?

The growth of voice, across all devices and in our cars and homes, is undeniable. The adoption of smart home devices like Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomeKit specifically will increase the types of fintech services people buy. Insurance, mortgages, and other traditionally complex banking services will see less and less friction in the purchasing process over the next five years. We’ve been working to make the necessary data available, to make these purchases on the web and through mobile devices much easier, as voice is the next frontier.

Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends Report – a barometer for the technology industry – showed earlier this year that voice-controlled products, specifically the Amazon Echo (in the U.S) grew from 20 million in the third quarter of 2017 to more than 30 million in the fourth quarter. This number has grown to 50 million today.

While these smart hubs are increasing the growth of voice powered interactions around the home, people still aren’t using the technology to regularly buy physical products. The Information recently reported Amazon specific data that only 2% of people who own Alexa-enabled devices have used them to make an online purchase in 2018. So if people aren’t buying ‘things’ with voice what will they buy? I think services are primed to fill this gap which will lead to a new stream of customer growth in fintech. Why is that? Today we have all the necessary data in place to execute a home insurance purchase for example, by asking “Alexa, what’s the best and most affordable home insurance for my house?” And this can be done in about 60 seconds. Traditionally financial providers have offered services based upon the answers to long questionnaires, turned into PDFs and faxed or scanned for delivery. One of fintech’s promises is to modernize and automate unnecessary process, and that bodes well for voice enabled services from insurance, to mortgages, to payments, and beyond.

What does your firm do/offer within the fintech sector?

Hippo is transforming home insurance for savvy homeowners using AI to expedite and refine the application process, and empathic humans where it’s needed most – in customer support and claims. We provide homeowners quotes in 60 seconds, with savings up to 25% of traditional providers, and enhanced coverage on the items people care about most today, all while offering world-class customer service.

Buying a policy modernized by Hippo and backed by one of the industry’s largest re-insurers means you get the security of the largest financial institutions in the world and an insurance team that understand the value of coverage for today’s most common items. People need to insure much more than grandma’s old pewter bowls today – they need coverage that will help them recover the items that run their homes daily.

More than 60% of U.S. homes are underinsured, putting the financial future and security of valuable assets at risk for many consumers. So we see a great need for an easier way to not only buy home insurance, but understand exactly what you’re getting and how those needs will change over time.

What are the biggest problems facing the fintech industry in the future?

One of the problems facing fintech, and insurtech specifically, is the proclivity for vendors to talk about their technology without mentioning that knowledgeable service agents still interface with customers. At Hippo we’ve built our own artificial intelligence framework, and that leads to a more modernized insurance product, but we also have a full staff of claims agents based in Austin, Texas.

One of the biggest problems facing fintech, particularly for real estate and insurance tech, is the proclivity of companies to defer to talking about their technology, like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, without talking about the humans interfacing with the customers.

We want to move fast, lower prices, and create a lot of value for the customer, but we also need to do it in a way that potential clients across all 50 states can easily understand. There is a movement from a few technology leaders to talk more about the creative and interesting stories behind buzzy terms like ‘Millennials, chatbots, and AI.’ People don’t buy fintech services and products because of chatbots or AI, they buy it because the overall experience is noticeably different, and when they need to speak with a human there’s always someone there.

Assaf Wand is the co-founder and CEO of insurtech startup Hippo. Based in Mountain View, CA, the company is reimagining home insurance through the lens of homeowners – building policies with more comprehensive coverage for today’s consumers at up to 25% less than competitors. Prior to Hippo, Wand was founder and CEO of Sabi, which designed and produced elegant everyday products (Sabi was acquired in 2015), a consultant with McKinsey & Company and an investor with Intel Capital. He has an MBA from the University of Chicago and a BA in finance and LLB in Law from the IDC Herzliya in Israel.