Openly Inc., the tech-enabled home insurance provider designed to empower rather than replace agents and simplify the home insurance buying process, announces a $7.65M seed round of funding led by Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI-focused venture fund. Simultaneously, Openly announces its market debut in Illinois and Arizona. Openly is backed by a diverse coalition of investors and reinsurers, such as Greenlight Re, PJC, Techstars Ventures, and The Hanover Insurance Group.
According to a 2019 report from the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, 35% of consumers choose to shop through independent agents. These agents represent numerous companies and 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.
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 enables agents to generate firm quotes for their customers in less than 20 seconds.
“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.”
Openly’s founders have deep roots in Boston and experience across both the insurance and technology industries. Co-founder and CEO Ty Harris is an MIT alum and a credentialed actuary who previously served as Chief Product Officer at Boston-based 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. The duo founded Openly in 2017 and participated in the prestigious Techstars Boston accelerator program in 2018.
Openly’s first product is a premium homeowners insurance product designed for customers who value broad, innovative and responsive coverage and is currently available in Illinois and Arizona. With the new capital, Openly plans to expand at a rapid speed by adding Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Tennessee in the next few months, along with 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.
With Openly, customers can receive a bindable quote on a highly-valued home with just three questions, markedly faster than the market norm.
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 home policies.
“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.