Venture Capital News: Openly Raises $7.65M Seed Round
According to Insurance Journal, Openly announced it has begun selling in Illinois and Arizona at the same time it has announced a $7.65M seed financing.
The round of funding was led by Gradient Ventures, Google's AI-focused venture fund.
Openly's first product is a premium homeowners insurance product aimed at agents and customers who want broad coverage. While it is launching its debut in Illinois and Arizona, with the new capital Openly said it plans to add Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Tennessee in the next few months, along with four additional states in the near future.
The company also plans to launch complementary product lines, such as automobile insurance.
Openly is a managing general agency. Its coverages are underwritten by companies that are members of Clear Blue Insurance Group including Rock Ridge, Clear Blue Insurance Co. and Clear Blue Specialty Insurance Co.
Openly says its "sweet spot" is homes in the $400K to $3M replacement cost range.
Openly sells its up-market home insurance exclusively through independent insurance agents, offering them technology, unique products, pricing and lead generation support.
"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."
Using data sources, predictive models and artificial intelligence, Openly promises agents they can generate quotes for their customers in less than 20 seconds, while customers need answer only three questions.
Openly prides itself on the uniqueness of its homeowners products, which it says offer more complete coverage for more loss types than standard homeowners policies. Openly's main homeowners policy can be used for multiple occupancy types, including primary, seasonal, secondary, and rented to others. It offers features such as guaranteed replacement cost up to $5 million, open perils contents coverage, and high water backup limits. The policy also contains optional special endorsements covering personal cyber, equipment breakdown and home-sharing. The company is also adding flood and umbrella liability coverages as endorsements on its home policies.
"Underwriting is tied less to traditional flags (pools, dogs, wires, etc.) and more to an overall automated assessment of the client's loss propensity, based on dozens of factors," the company tells agents on its website. "You will find that our pricing and underwriting is somewhat "contrarian" relative to many other carriers. For that reason, Openly will sometimes be the market you need to close a particular client."
Openly's founders have roots in Boston and experience in the insurance and technology industries. Co-founder and CEO Harris is an actuary who previously served as chief product officer at Boston-based Liberty Mutual. His co-founder and chief technology officer, Matt Wielbut, served as the vice president of technology at Goldman Sachs and also ran his own retail insurance agency, Elements Insurance in Boston.
Openly's investors also include iGreenlight Re, PJC, Techstars Ventures and The Hanover Insurance Group.
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