The Future of Insurance Podcast – Yaron Ben-Zvi
CEO of Haven Technologies & Co-Founder of Haven Life
Season 2, Episode 13, January 25, 2022
Yaron Ben-Zvi is CEO of Haven Technologies, where he is responsible for commercializing the Haven Technologies platform for the broader life, disability and annuity industries, as well as driving adoption and success of the platform with clients. In this role, Yaron leads a team of 350+ technology-focused professionals on a mission to help make life insurance more available and accessible through the use of technology.
Previously, Yaron was Head of Platform Innovation for MassMutual, where he led the team building the platform and driving adoption of the technology that now supports a substantial portion of MassMutual’s core life insurance business. He was also the co-founder and CEO of Haven Life, MassMutual’s direct-to-consumer life insurance agency. Yaron’s interest in life insurance began as a customer when he set out to buy a life insurance policy for himself and found existing solutions had not yet realized the potential of digital capabilities in the space.
Yaron was a founder in several early stage companies, including a digital life insurance agency and an early robo-advisor. Earlier in his career, Yaron worked with various innovative media companies. He was an early employee at social listening platform BuzzMetrics, later acquired by Nielsen Media, as well as an early employee at Oxygen Media, later acquired by NBC.
Yaron is a graduate of Wesleyan University and the Wharton School of Business, and lives with his wife and two children in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY.
Highlights from the Show
- Haven started with Haven Life
- 8 years ago, Yaron had to buy a Life policy, and his experience led him to be interested in applying his tech background to making it better
- He got licensed to sell Life insurance to understand it better, and things grew from there
- The solution they built is not only used for Haven Life Insurance Agency, but also in parts of their parent company, MassMutual, and was just announced as a platform other life insurers can use under the name Haven Technologies
- Yaron started in Media at Oxygen as their first employee, and was working on their interactive and VOD approach, before any of that really existed yet
- In this capacity, Yaron learned to really study and understand customer behaviors and mindsets, and use technology to engage better with them
- This is also where Yaron learned the importance of Engagement, which is something that’s hard to come by in Life insurance since it’s not compulsory, but also removing friction for customers because the simple things are what end up working
- Yaron ended up in FinTech, working on a robo advisory solution, learning about the advisory world
- After selling his company, starting a family triggered Yaron to get life insurance, and he was surprised not to be able to actually buy a purchase simply online, and in a way he understood
- With the entrepreneurial bent in him, Yaron dug in, taking some coding classes and getting licensed to sell Life insurance so he could understand the issue and how to solve it
- Partnering with the CTO from his past company, they started to work on a way to get quotes from multiple carriers, acting more like an MGA
- They learned that the friction came from the carrier side due to constraints on their end around product design, underwriting and tech
- They wondered what they could do if they had more control over those components to reduce friction, which led them to partner with MassMutual to try to make those changes from inside
- The things that needed to change to make direct possible are around stripping the product and options down to ones customers can understand and speak directly to their needs
- A lot of simplification comes via Addition by Subtraction, starting with what’s there and chiseling away what isn’t needed; though that might change to be more clean sheet over time
- Starting from a blank sheet of paper can be useful, but do you end up building things back up over time because of roadblocks and new situations you find?
- The direct model is not likely to be a fit for every Life product out there, and not every need is met by Term (or simple term options), so Yaron doesn’t see the market going purely direct
- At ITC 2021, Haven announced Haven Technologies, which is an enterprise offering of the tech platform they built for other Life carriers to use to remove friction, with 4 main modules
- Application taking / sales funnel
- Underwriting via straight through and people
- Policy Admin
- Actuarial tools to support the other 3 modules
- We talked about the strategic decision to commercialize your core tech or not
- For Haven Technologies, there is going to be so much investment in changing Life in the coming years, and if not them, someone else will rise up and solve it, so it made sense for them to compete given that they’ve built a solution
- Yaron thinks about how Life will change by thinking about the three types of players will change
- Tech – more spend and players offering transformation services, digital, data and analytics
- Carriers – accelerating transformation initiatives and thinking across channels and products about new ways to grow with new products
- Distribution – it will keep evolving and broadening
- If you combine this, there’s a wall with lots of holes being poked at it, which, in their entirety, is incredibly transformational with more players and more customer needs being met