Online life insurance agency Haven Life celebrates a third year of firsts

When each of my kids turned three years old, I felt like the chaos that had settled into my life finally began to wane. I had a sense that our family had crossed a desert of experience to find that our kids were now on the cusp of something big, like their abilities and imagination came together just at that moment to hint at the exciting years that followed.

The sentiment remains the same with Haven Life as we come upon our 3rd birthday. The miles we have traveled in our first few years feel like many, and I’d like to think we have helped the industry travel some miles as well. In either case, this seems like a good time to stop, take stock of the last year, and talk about our (or my) excitement for what’s ahead.

This past year included some of our most significant accomplishments to date. We became the first life insurance startup to go nationwide.* We proved that investing in technology can soon pay off through a better, more streamlined experience for our customers. And, all of this hard work to date resulted in a nearly 250% increase in the number of people who have much-needed financial protection by way of the Haven Term policy.

While these milestones alone made it worth labeling year three a “really good year,” there have been several other achievements along the way that helped our team get to where we are today.

1: Customers

We’ve come to learn a lot about our customers. Mostly, how remarkable they are.

The Haven Term policyholder is young, smart, and accomplished. Sixty-eight percent are Millennial, the median income is about $80,000 per year, and more than 80% have a college degree. One of them even adopted a fish in 2017.

We’re also seeing that our customers buy more coverage than the average life insurance policyholder. While many experts recommend coverage that’s 5 to 10x your salary, in the report “Life Insurance Ownership in Focus: U.S. Person-Level Trends 2016,” LIMRA states that Millennials purchase an average coverage of 3.1x their annual income. At Haven Life, we are finding that Millennial women buy policies equal to 7.9x their annual income and men at 6.8x.

Additionally, Haven Life customers are self-directed individuals who, 70% of the time, buy a policy without ever reaching out to our support team for help. Phone is their preferred conversation channel during business hours, and they place a significant value on quality customer service.

2: Underwriting

Understanding how to use data to create sophisticated learning models is one of the most important elements of streamlining the life insurance buying process while maintaining affordable prices. Thanks to being backed and wholly owned by MassMutual, and our ability to partner with their Data Science team, we’ve been able to create a sophisticated platform that is leading the way for the industry.

Built on an agile framework, the Haven Life platform is optimized to learn and iterate over time. This passion to constantly improve and do right by the life insurance buyer is what led our team to numerous customer experience enhancements this year.

Three recent best-in-class improvements we’re extremely proud of:

  1. We cut the application length in half: With the launch of Haven Life’s redesign, many Haven Term applicants now experience a shorter, friendlier path to purchase. Instead of about 60 core questions, the new site asks as few as 30 clear, conversational questions for the same medically underwritten policy.
  2. Real-time decisions post medical exam: In collaboration with MassMutual’s Data Science Team, the first ever 100% algorithmically underwritten Haven Term policy was issued. This means that in addition to the completely online InstantTerm process, medical exam results can now be evaluated, in near real time (32 seconds, but who’s counting?), without human review.
  3. Opioid and other prescription history optimizations (x2): More than 20% of Haven Term applications include at least one fill of an opioid, and many of these individuals have only a single fill from a minor procedure or acute injury as prescribed by a dentist or OB-GYN. Prescription history is one of the most challenging data points to automate when considering the numerous drugs available, generic and brand versions, potential drug combinations, and medical use cases. Along with Haven Life’s redesign, the Haven Term application was adjusted to ask reflexive questions about prescription history to increase the eligibility rate for InstantTerm. This simultaneously reduces the frequency of follow-up questions needed to understand the purpose of the prescription usage. Two iterations on prescription history were launched at the end of last year — in October and November — to account for more than 50 medical conditions.

3: Brand

Last, but certainly not least, Haven Life’s rebrand in October emphasizes values the modern life insurance buyer prefers — fresh, modern, trustworthy. For the team, the redesign was a declaration of what a life insurance brand can be and encouraged a level of creativity we hadn’t previously achieved.

The emphasis on brand began with the introduction of LifeLink, which is a free-to-all emergency services app that connects users and their loved ones instantly and accurately to 9–1–1 dispatch services no matter where they are. This benefit expanded Haven Life’s offerings outside of simply transactional financial products to one that can deepen the safety and well-being of consumers (and their families).

Also, the new brand lends itself more to friendly, conversational interactions with Haven Term applicants and policyholders — creating a positive sentiment that is well reflected in Haven Life’s outstanding customer review rating, and interestingly, in customer responses to our marketing communications.

For example, The 2017 Haven Life Annual Report, which derived from an idea to celebrate the milestones in policyholders’ lives, was well received by our customer base. Once the report was sent out, the support team received several positive responses, including this one: “I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading the recap that you all put together. I really appreciate the humor and touch points. I’m so happy my husband and I both purchased a policy through Haven Life in 2017. Cheers to your milestones in 2017 as well!”

Soon after, another policyholder reached out asking if Haven Life had a presentable document to give his wife on Valentine’s Day stating that he bought coverage for her and their future family. We didn’t. But, we were more than happy to oblige.

With a policyholder email open rate of 40%, Haven Life customers are proving that if the message is right, life insurance customers are, in fact, open to having a relationship with their life insurance agency beyond just a monthly bill.

The Haven Life team, which started with about ten employees and now stands at roughly 120, continues to display an unwavering dedication to accomplishing our mission of making life less hard for our customers. The thoughtfulness of our work can be clearly seen in the evolution of the Haven Life brand and buying experience this year.

So where do we go from here?

I believe the potential is huge. What we’ve learned and accomplished to date has put us in a position where we now have the ability, imagination, and expertise to venture forward with even more confidence.

When we started this, we were told all the reasons why selling life insurance online would never work. We’ve put the doubts to rest and, in many ways, are onto more interesting challenges.

First, we will be looking at how we can provide additional types of protection to our customers. We’re already working hard on that, and you can bet on hearing more about that in our fourth year.

Second, we are lining up ways to deepen our relationship with our customers — with an intention to provide more value and to remind them more often that we are on their side. We want to help our customers live healthily, live fully, and live protected.

I can’t wait for what’s ahead. Thanks for being a part of our first three years.

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Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC15DTC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. Not all riders are available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is 0K71922 and in Arkansas, 100139527

*We have to disclose how we determine “first,” so here it goes… based on our extensive research, there was no other direct-to-consumer, life insurance startup that sold medically underwritten term coverage online nationwide.