In today’s digital world, it’s easy to find sites that offer online quotes and the ability to connect with life insurers’ call centers and agents. What’s been lacking are turnkey solutions that let consumers do everything they need — from securing price comparisons to transacting a policy purchase — with the click of a mouse.

Enter Haven Life. A wholly owned subsidiary of MassMutual, the one-year-old company aims to transform the buying process for consumers, especially young millennials who have little patience for the industry’s traditional methods. To learn more about the company’s innovative digital rollout, LifeHealthPro Senior Editor Warren S. Hersch spoke with Haven Life Co-founder and CEO Yaron Ben-Zvi. The following are excerpts.

Hersch: Tell me about Haven Life. How did the company get started?

Ben-Zvi:  I joined MassMutual about a year ago to help lead Haven Life as an in-house start-up. Since then, we’ve built a website where people buy quality term insurance — Haven Term — entirely online.

The platform is an end-to-solution: Prospects can calculate the coverage requirements, determine their eligibility and purchase a fully underwritten, top-rated term policy through our web platform. Once coverage begins, the policyholder needs to complete a medical exam within 90 days.

We’ve made the process simple and transparent for the next generation of life insurance customers: millennials. This focus also extends to the product — we believe you shouldn’t need a dictionary to read your life insurance policy. So Haven Term provides a plain language policy that makes it much easier to read and understand your coverage.

Hersch: Can prospects visiting HavenLife.com buy policies issued by insurers other than MassMutual?

Ben-Zvi: Haven Term is the only policy you can apply for, receive an immediate decision on, and purchase entirely online through our site. We also provide an easy comparison to the quotes and policies from multiple other top-rated insurance providers. Should you choose to go with one of the other providers, you will be directed to their site to begin the application process.

Hersch: What’s the timeline for the rollout of this initiative?

Ben-Zvi: We launched the site on March 18. Term insurance will first be available for purchase in Massachusetts. There will be a rollout to additional states in the year following the launch.

Hersch: Describe the website’s needs analysis calculator. What distinguishes it from other online calculators?

sBen-Zvi (pictured at right):  Other life insurance coverage calculators usually recommend a specific face amount of coverage. We’ve taken a different approach: We provide a range of recommended coverages in three buckets: low, medium and high.

There’s not one right answer. Depending on your financial needs and what you can afford, the appropriate coverage level will vary. We want the coverage calculator to reflect our approach: to create a transparent experience and authentic tone that puts the customer in control.

Hersch: Why are you only focused on term insurance? Does the calculator not lend itself to permanent life insurance policy recommendations?

Ben-Zvi: Again, we’re targeting younger, more technology-savvy customers — individuals for whom we think term insurance is the right solution. Because they’re younger, they’re more likely to be cash-strapped. They’re also more inclined to self-service solutions. So we think term lends itself well to a self-directed online process.

As part of an end-to-end solution, the coverage calculator is only the first step of the application process. We’ve worked with MassMutual to design the site so that users can buy Haven Term in real time using a proprietary algorithm. As a result, we’ve reduced underwriting times from potentially several weeks to about 20 minutes.

 

Hersch: How much information must a site user supply the calculator to obtain policy recommendations?

Ben-Zvi: The calculator asks for basic information: the applicant’s age, annual income, zip code, gender, family members, debt, and a few other questions. For those who want a more customized calculation, there are additional questions. For example: how much of the insured’s salary should be replaced; and until what age of the beneficiary’s life should the payout last. In all cases, we give three choices, making it clear as to what’s included in those three options.

When you’re ready to apply for a policy, we gather more comprehensive information needed for a typical life insurance application. This would include your medical history, family health history, beneficiary information. All of this goes into our proprietary algorithmic underwriting process.

Hersch: Does the algorithm that powers the calculator mirror traditional methods in determining an appropriate face amount — for example, a traditional needs analysis or more advanced method based on one’s human life value?

Ben-Zvi: The calculator provides an advanced financial analysis of a cash flow. Based on inputs, the calculator generates a net present value of life insurance coverage needed over a 30- or 40-year timeframe. The calculator emulates the approach of a financial planner, the difference being that it’s a self-directed solution.

I’m a good example of the type of person for whom we’ve designed this solution: I’m a GenXer with a wife and two young kids. I really like online technologies and use them to help manage my investments and finances. The Haven Life portal speaks to the kind of digital experience I want — one that puts me in control in an open and transparent way.

Hersch: How much of a technical challenge did developing the web portal entail?

Ben-Zvi: The process was a big technical challenge — more complicated than I initially expected when I started the journey. Designing the algorithm involved extensive underwriting and medical resources to ensure that we’re rating and classifying people appropriately. We also had to incorporate technology components that could, among other things, pull information from different databases and make decisions in a quick, real-time fashion.

Hersch: How many people do you have on staff at Haven Life? Do they all work out of the parent company’s homes offices in Springfield, Massachusetts?

Ben-Zvi: Though a unit of MassMutual, we’re based in New York City. We have just 12 people on staff, but use additional resources of the parent company. MassMutual has been a wonderful partner; they’re people have been very supportive of our initiative. We’ve really benefited from their perspective and capabilities.

Hersch: Going forward, what are your expectations for the site rollout? What do you hope for over the next year as a result of this initiative?

Ben-Zvi: We believe the opportunity is enormous to reach a different kind of customer — millennials — whose needs aren’t being adequately addressed today. We’re providing a life insurance solution that fits their lifestyle. With the commercial release of the online platform, we’ll be exploring ways to continue to simplify the underwriting process and to avail site users of additional protection products.