Insurance Zebra Raises $1.5 Million From Mark Cuban, Floodgate, Silverton & Birchmere To Be The Kayak For Auto Insurance

iz-squarePosted Jan 31, 2013 by Sarah Perez (@sarahintampa) Techcrunch.com
 
Pittsburgh-born, but now Austin-based Insurance Zebra, a startup that aggregates car insurance quotes the way that Kayak aggregates flight and hotel deals, is today announcing $1.5 million in seed funding. The round was led by Austin’s Silverton Partners, and includes participation from Mark Cuban, Floodgate, and Birchmere Labs.
 
Insurance Zebra founder and CEO Adam Lyons worked in the car insurance industry, previously, on both the underwriting and brokerage side of the business. It was an experience that first introduced him to the challenges, and the opportunity, in the market, he says. “If you look at the travel industry a while back, it used to be that you had to go to your travel agent or call the airlines directly, and now there’s all these sites like Orbitz and Kayak. That’s a really similar state to where the auto insurance industry is in the U.S. – you either need to call your insurance agent or call the guy you saw on TV.”
 
Initially, Lyons said the company’s goal was to just simplify the process of shopping for and buying insurance online. But it soon became clear to him that insurance is something everybody is required to have, but no one fully understands it. People don’t have time to do the proper research and learn all the jargon involved, he says, and they don’t necessarily understand which factors make rates increase or go down.
 
With the technology Insurance Zebra has developed, the idea is to not only offer real-time quotes via a one-stop shop experience, but also help users visualize how rates change as they step through the online form. The process begins very simply – it only asks for a zip code and car type. But as the consumer fills out more of the form, the quotes becoming increasingly more accurate.
 
How this is made possible is Insurance Zebra’s secret sauce. The company uses public state filing data as well as data from insurance agencies to help better predict rates. It then combines that data with its own proprietary technology – and a little machine learning and A.I. – to arrival at the quote. When the consumer is ready to buy, Insurance Zebra then facilitates that transaction right on its own website.
 
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