While many aspects of the home buying process today have gone digital—like searching for homes and getting a mortgage—one part of the real estate transaction is still done largely offline: buying insurance.
But Chicago startup Kin Insurance wants to change that, and it’s going after Allstate, Nationwide and the other insurance giants with what it says is a better, cheaper and more efficient way to insure your property.
Kin, which just launched this month, makes it easier to by home insurance by using data sources that can better assess risk, and it puts the entire process online—making insurance available in just a few clicks.
“Home insurance is really done the same way it was done 50 years ago,” Kin CEO Sean Harper said. “Today 94% of home insurance is still sold through local brokers. I actually have to call up some guy in a store front.”
So about a year ago Harper and his team set out to build a new insurance solution from scratch, incorporating available data from satellite images, public records, building permits and MLS information to build its policy.
Kin uses this information to make a profile of your home, saving you from needing to fill out countless forms about your property. Users just enter their address and Kin spits out an instant quote, allows the customer to tweak coverage as needed, and payment takes place with a credit card or through the homeowner’s escrow account.
“There’s so much data out there,” Harper said. “I probably know more about your house than you do, even though I’ve never been there.”
The startup has raised $4 million from investors such as Commerce Ventures, Omidyar Network, 500 Startups, Chicago Ventures and Portag3 Ventures, Sandalphon, M25, Nameless Ventures and other angel investors.
Kin’s founding team is made up of several seasoned Chicago entrepreneurs. Harper founded FeeFighters, a payments startup that sold to Groupon in 2012; CTO Lucas Ward was the previous CTO and co-founder at Rippleshot; and Kin’s product head Sebastian Villarreal previously founded LendSquare, which was bought by Avant in 2015.
Harper said Kin is cheaper for most (but not all) people shopping for insurance, as they’ve eliminated things like storefronts and outdated technology that weigh down traditional insurance companies. The startup currently only operates in Florida, but it plans to expand into Texas and other states soon.
A challenge for Kin will be getting in front of the right customers, who on a daily basis are bombarded with countless ads for insurance companies with deep pockets.
“How is Nationwide different from State Farm? Why would I use State Farm because they have Aaron Rodgers (in commercials) but Nationwide uses Peyton Manning?,” he said.
“But which one is actually cheaper? Which one has the best product?”
Harper is betting his product, with a more efficient experience and lower price tag, can cut through the noise.