Haven Life, an insurance subsidiary of MassMutual, today announced that it’s expanding its medically underwritten Haven Term policy to non-U.S. citizens and individuals with chronic illnesses. The unique application process employs artificial intelligence to match applicants with plan options.

“This expansion in eligibility illustrates our core values — to be inclusive and give as many people as possible access to a simple way to financially protect their loved ones,” Haven Life CEO and cofounder Yaron Ben-Zvi said in a statement.

The insurance industry has long been bedfellows with data science —  startups like DataRobot use algorithms to predict which customers have good health prospects. But Haven Life is one of the few firms using it to address the roughly four in 10 people who don’t have a life insurance policy, sometimes as a result of poor health or immigration status.

“Cases where chronic illnesses are present is a point of contention across the industry,” Mark Sayre, head of policy design at Haven Life, said. “We’re in a unique position to innovate the underwriting process so that it’s not only easier to secure coverage, but so that it also has fewer limitations on who qualifies.”


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Here’s how it works: Customers complete an application on Haven Life’s website and upload motor vehicle records, driving records, and other requisite paperwork. (Noncitizens living in the U.S. need to provide a visa or green card.) After they submit everything, machine learning algorithms cross-check public records to verify the information and generate new questions. If an applicant lists an ambiguous treatment in their prescription history, for example, the system might ask that they provide additional details.

“Obtaining life insurance usually involves working with an advisor and a lot of back-and-forth in paper or over the phone.  It takes many weeks,” Sayre told VentureBeat in a phone interview. “We took the process and built it on a digital stack from beginning to end.”

Haven Life isn’t taking humans out of the loop entirely. It only uses algorithms to approve customers, not weed them out — applications that aren’t given an immediate green light are turned over to a human underwriter who looks at the case in its entirety before making a decision, Sayre said.

“The role of AI is not to replace humans. Machines are really good at what machines are really good at, and humans are good at what humans are really good at,” he said. “We’re leveraging the areas at which both are strong.”

Haven Term covers customers with illnesses and disorders including diabetes, anxiety, depression, sleep apnea, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obesity. It offers insurance coverage of up to $1 million.

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