This company reinvents itself daily in the AI age


Online life insurance agency Haven Life announced an upgrade to its service earlier this week that could let you buy a life insurance policy in just a few minutes after answering about 30 questions — possibly with no medical checkup. That speed of underwriting is made possible by artificial intelligence the two-year-old company has built into its offering.

The company is one example of a new breed of fast-moving businesses built atop AI. It’s difficult to get a good idea of the types of machine learning these companies are building into their products, as they’re giving very little away at this stage. But they’re constantly iterating: testing out new machine-run decision-making processes and then migrating the next part of their business over to those systems once they prove secure.

Haven Life’s upgrade this week is a good example of that kind of iteration. A young, healthy applicant can now get a final decision within about five minutes, no medical or labs required, and buy a policy on the spot. But the company’s underwriting process still isn’t fully automated for all applicants. More complicated cases still need to be looked at by a human underwriter behind the scenes and may require a medical exam. “We’re continuing to lower that percentage [of humans in the loop]” by reassessing the data and rules the service’s AI relies on, CTO Todd Rodgers told VentureBeat.

While fully owned by traditonal life insurance company MassMutual, Haven Life is very much living on the frontier of machine learning. It’s a life of constant rethinking and adaptation, and it requires a new way of conducting business, where the speed of AI advancements dictate the speed of business decisions. “You have to have an appetite for iteration” to succeed with this type of business, Rodgers said. “Going into development with the understanding you’ll never be done is critical.”

And it takes a certain kind of team. “To pull this off, you need people with deep, deep subject matter expertise, you need developers who are interested in the business problem they’re solving, and you need analysts who can intermediate between the two, who can explain an objective in a way that developers know how to codify it,” said Rodgers. He said Haven Life has been lucky to have subject matter experts who are close enough to the data and code that they don’t need the intermediaries. “You also need to be colocated,” Rodgers said, “since you’ll be working together day in day out” on a project that is never finished.

When the company first launched in 2015, it started to pull in third-party data, such as prescription histories, motor vehicle records, and information from the Medical Information Bureau, to assess appropriate life insurance quotes. That didn’t make the company unique. This is data that’s commonly used across the industry, Rodgers said. Where Haven Life innovated was in gradually restructuring that data so that it could be sorted in a highly structured way, allowing the company to run increasingly sophisticated rules and algorithms against it. The more patterns the company has been able to surface in the data, the more rules it has been able to feed to its AI.

Read the source article at VentureBeat.