Company Profiles

Unlocking Data To 'Flip The Script' On Risk Measurement, Underwriting

How Sproutt looks to effect a new, positive beginning for life insurance

by Assaf Henkin

Mr. Henkin is co-founder, president and COO a Sproutt Insurance, with background in predictive analytics and data insights with more than 15 years of experience building scalable consumer-facing digital products. Visit sprout.com

Historically, the insurance industry has focused on detecting “negative” customer attributes such as having a poor driving history or being a smoker, in order to justify increasing the price of an individual’s insurance. However, these days progressive insurance companies are flipping the script to reward positive attributes such as driving less or safer, and living a healthy life. Enter Sproutt, the life insurance provider that celebrates positive data, attributes, and behaviors, so that people who take care of their lives will get what they deserve, the best life insurance.

Life insurance is a $130 billion market that has seen a decline in policyholders over the last 20 years, yet protecting your family is as critical as ever (5% of kids will lose a parent before they’re 15). Sproutt believes that by improving how the market discerns “positive data” and offering a better onboarding experience, we can grow the number of life insurance policy holders.

Here’s how we got here.

An Outsider’s POV on Life Insurance

We are outsiders. The Sproutt team doesn’t come from the life insurance industry, but we have a lot of experience in unlocking the value of data in traditional markets. Our team spent the past decade navigating big data and analytics, looking at hundreds of millions of potential purchasers of products every day and drawing conclusions about them using neural networks. Our world is one where artificial intelligence can be used to enlighten, discover and unlock a great many things in just about any vertical industry. After looking closely at the life insurance space, we became obsessed with what was causing a dropoff in policyholders. We set out to satisfy our curiosity, and along the way we discovered an unconventional understanding of what truly makes a person healthy (which has until now largely eluded the industry).

Legacy providers typically punish negative or unhealthy lifestyle choices —  i.e., smoking or elevated body mass index (BMI) — when calculating pricing. However, what we realized is that it’s not just about cultivating the data, it’s about breathing new life into datasets that have not been used positively to enable people to be rewarded for their healthy lifestyles. If an auto insurance provider can reward careful drivers, there’s no reason why we can’t do the same thing in life insurance.

We started with a clean slate, and by asking ourselves:

  • 1) How can we measure somebody’s quality of life?
  • 2) How can we deliver the best experience and policy based on that?
  • 3) How can we use data and AI for good to benefit consumers and disrupt an industry that has failed to modernize?

Armed with the ability to look at multiple tag signals across a variety of activities, we apply them to a deep and complex product like life insurance, where someone is producing data about themselves all throughout their life. As mentioned, the life insurance industry just wasn’t set up to reward people for being healthy; for being active; eating and sleeping well, or living a balanced life.

what we realized is that it’s not just about cultivating the data, it’s about breathing new life into datasets that have not been used positively to enable people to be rewarded for their healthy lifestyles...

As I’m sure you’ll agree, this makes no sense. Why wouldn’t an industry support and reward people who make positive lifestyle choices that improve their longevity and support them when they adopt these good behaviors, when they are the first to benefit from the associated longevity?

What if instead, someone used AI to discern a person’s life potential and then match them with the best life insurance providers and policies? With this process, the insurance application can get the best policy and the providers get someone to pay their premiums for a longer period of time.

Onboarding and Assessing For What Truly Matters

Life insurance is a 150-year-old industry that, in large measure, has never really changed its approach to most things. After we took a deep dive into how the space worked, we came to the realization that the customer journey wasn’t nearly as personal, modern, quick and consumer friendly as it needed to be for this day and age. We felt that if you’re living a healthy lifestyle and are willing to share that information, there’s really no reason a person shouldn’t be able to secure a policy the same day they apply. Waiting weeks and sometimes months to protect your family is not how it works in any other vertical industry, and there’s no reason for life insurance to be any different. But there’s a lot of work that goes into this.

Enter GAIA, Sproutt’s Guided Artificial Intelligence Assessment assistant that powers the Sproutt Quality of Life Index (QL Index), which is an assessment of an individual’s lifestyle. The assessment accounts for the fact that being healthy and living a long life involve actions beyond than eating and sleeping well, getting exercise, and so on. Healthy living includes feeling supported by your family and community, owning a pet that brings you comfort, and even drinking a bit of wine to relax. Life can be chaotic, but it’s the balance we find in these activities that is the “silver bullet” for longevity.

GAIA is trained to take input on-the-fly from customers to provide a guided, highly personalized life insurance application experience attuned to discover whether you have the aforementioned balance. GAIA’s questions will vary with the answers a customer provides, based on the data and real-time computation that is happening with her AI. We spent a good deal of time analyzing consumer data at scale, as well as insurance product and underwriting guidelines, so that GAIA can take everything into account to create the perfect experience for anyone seeking life insurance. The assessment process and resulting QL Index score are used to provide insights and personal recommendations for how to achieve a healthy lifestyle, as well as the best match for a life insurance product. The best part is that GAIA grows with every interaction to ensure the delivery of a continuously improving customer experience that becomes more personalized and exact over time.

Holistic Lifestyles

At a minimum, a holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle, means you refrain from smoking and other risky behaviors, and any form of insurance likely takes this factor into consideration. Of course being physically active each day is also an important factor and encouraged. For example, it’s recommended that 20 minutes of sustained activity that elevates your heart rate is the minimum for optimal health. And yes, a diet that is rich in whole grains, lean protein, vegetables, and fruits is also encouraged as if a conscious effort to get enough vitamin D and calcium into your system, either by taking vitamins, and/or taking some sunshine for a half hour each day.  In fact, taking a brisk 20 minute walk outdoors tackles three healthy choices at the same time, including helping you maintain a healthy weight and body shape.

Many experts also recommend reading for at least 20 minutes each day — whether that involves a portion of a compelling book or long magazine article. Reading engages and challenges your mind and is as important as physical activity.

It’s becoming clear that sleep physically cleans out toxins that build up around the brain, that occur from normal functions over the course of the day. This leads to feeling better and being happier, which connects directly into health and positive lifestyle choices.

Last but most definitely not least, having a supportive social network is an essential part of the human experience, whether it’s regular time spent with family, neighbors, friends, or in a religious setting.

Put it all together, and just like that you have Sproutt, a new kind of life insurance company that loves life and rewards those who love theirs. It is our purpose to use data and AI to finally reward people who live a healthy life with the best life insurance. We believe it’s important to live a balanced life that includes a reasonable amount of exercise, eating well, and getting a proper amount of sleep. But we also believe that owning certain pets, being surrounded by friends and family, and feeling supported by your community are equally important factors that impact longevity and should be rewarded. Whether inquiring about life insurance, or actually purchasing coverage through Sproutt, it is our mission to educate and encourage everyone we meet to embrace a healthy lifestyle and put protections in place for their families.