Insurify, a startup that makes recommendations for auto insurance coverage, is announcing a $2 million seed round today and launching Evia, a personal digital assistant people communicate with via text message when they need quotes on car insurance.
Evia is available in a limited public beta. Insurify’s underlying system is operating in 30 states, and the company can offer quotes from 82 insurance carriers.
Starting the process of getting quotes is as simple as texting Evia a photo of your license plate. If you don’t have a license plate, you can just tell Evia that you’re looking for insurance for a specific car make and model. Evia will ask some questions to verify your identity and will ask whether you own or lease the car. Then Evia can start sending quotes for plans that would be a good fit. You can ask questions about what certain terms mean, and Evia will answer based on her own knowledge. If she doesn’t know the answer, a human will respond on her behalf. Once you find the insurance you want, you jump on a call with a person to complete the deal.
A few years ago, Insurify cofounder and CEO Snejina Zacharia was herself in need of insurance and found the process to be very complicated — involving phone calls, searches through online forums, and so on. “There is no service available that would allow you to enter your information once and get, ideally, some advice of what is the right coverage for your needs,” Zacharia told VentureBeat in an interview.
This experience led to the founding of Insurify — but it’s the Evia bot that really makes the startup interesting today. Facebook is working on the M bot in Messenger to communicate with people and complete tasks after it’s been trained by human beings. Google is reported to be working on a new messaging service that incorporates artificial intelligence. Team communication app Slack is building out an ecosystem of bots that lets users do all kinds of things, beyond just talking with their colleagues.
Insurify’s Evia uses natural language processing to understand what people are saying and to figure out what to write back, Zacharia said.
Insurify started in 2013 and is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Rationalwave Capital Partners led the funding round. Kayak chief technology officer Giorgos Zacharia also participated.