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Haven Life’s Yaron Ben-Zvi: ‘People don’t wake up in the morning wanting to buy a policy’

  • Yaron Ben-Zvi set out to build an insurance product to scratch his own itch.
  • Now part of MassMutual, Haven Life was born.
Haven Life’s Yaron Ben-Zvi: ‘People don’t wake up in the morning wanting to buy a policy’

Shopping for life insurance after the birth of his first child, Yaron Ben-Zvi went online and was shocked. The world that was transforming banking and investing hadn’t made its way to insurance. So, as a technologist and entrepreneur, he set out to change that. Haven Life was soon born. Now, a division of MassMutual, Haven set out to simplify the buying of life insurance.

We discuss the customer challenges in life insurance and how Yaron’s positioned Haven to address them. He tells us how he’s tackled the application process and sped up the decisioning using data and analytics. We talk about the segmentation created by launching Haven Plus, the firm’s premium product. Lastly, we dive into why Haven acquired insurance broker, Quilt, and what Yaron plans to do with that property.


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The following excerpts were edited for clarity.

Why life insurance?

I actually came to life insurance as a customer. Probably about seven years ago after the birth of our first child, my dad tapped me on the shoulder and said it was time to buy life insurance.

My background had always been in technology — within media and financial services — and when I went online to buy life insurance, I was kind of shocked by what I found. The world had already changed other parts of financial services, like banking and asset management. It felt like none of that had touched insurance.

For a customer like me that does a lot of stuff online, there had to be a different way.

What is unique to life insurance that makes it hard to bring online?

Other than healthcare, life insurance may be one of the most complex spaces. First off, there are regulatory challenges and things to be aware of. There are also a lot of customer challenges. This is a product that isn’t high engagement — it’s not something that people wake up in the morning wanting to buy. So, there are challenges helping people realize why this is such an important product to have.

Lastly, there is complexity around the data and the process. There is a lot of underwriting and information as part of getting someone a life insurance product. Taking that into account as you’re trying to simplify a product is a heavy lift.

Haven’s work to address insurance’s challenges

We’ve taken the process and put it online in a way a customer can understand and go through the entire process themselves. That involves making it transparent, like taking a 40 page pdf and turning it into something a customer can get through.

We’ve also used the world of data and technology to give customers an answer as quickly as possible. When a customer comes to our website, they can get a quote, fill out an entire life insurance application and get some type of answer back from our algorithm that gives them a sense of whether they can get life insurance right away and what that insurance would look like. Putting this process online so that it takes a matter of minutes has made it easier for customers.

The relationship with MassMutual

We call ourselves the in-house startup. We’re wholly-owned by MassMutual. Haven Life is the agency and MassMutual issues the policies we sell. When you sell life insurance, what you’re really selling is a promise to pay in twenty or thirty years. We think it’s really important that this policy comes from a big company with a long history. We work really closely with the folks at MassMutual to define the products and processes that go into the service we offer.

The term life insurance we sell is exclusively sold through Haven Life.  Being part of MassMutual is a good relationship because we’re working in the same direction. One of the things I think we’ve done well is ask the question ‘who is the customer we’re trying to serve’  — that’s the slightly younger, self-directed customer — and together with MassMutual, decide how best to serve this customer.

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