Next Insurance, a digital insurance company for small businesses, has launched a chatbot that enables personal trainers to quote and buy liability insurance via Facebook Messenger.
Next said it partnered with chatbot developer SmallTalk, becoming what it claims is the first company to provide full service insurance via a social channel.
Next Insurance is targeting small business owners with tailored insurance programs. Next utilizes direct access with their customers via an online platform that reduces transaction time to minutes.
“Small business owners are uniquely vulnerable to litigation, yet the insurance services on offer are shockingly inadequate. From being improperly priced to failing to account for fundamental needs, there is something broken in small business insurance, and we’re excited to be utilizing digital channels to solve it,” said Guy Goldstein, co-founder and CEO of Next.
Next Insurance has partnered with specialty insurer Markel Corp. to offer the professional and general liability coverage for personal trainers. Next is offering three plans: $11 per month for $500,000 of coverage, $14 per month for $1 million, and $16 per month for $2 million. All have $0 deductibles.
The personal trainer insurance is offered anywhere in the continental U.S. plus Alaska.
Next also sells insurance packages with equipment and liability coverage for commercial photographers on monthly payment plans. Munich Re is the underwriter.
It also sells general liability tailored for construction workers including electricians, plumbers and others, working with Builders & Tradesmen’s Insurance Services Inc.
Next Insurance says each of its insurance offerings is tailored to the specific industry so that usual exceptions or limitations are covered.
Goldstein said about 70 percent of Next’s customers are buying insurance on their phones. Enabling customers to buy insurance through a chatbot on Facebook Messenger brings even more simplicity, transparency and easy access, he said.
Chatbots use voice recognition, text and speech conversion methods, and question answering techniques to converse with customers. Next told Insurance Journal that the chatbot does not have to be licensed since the agency is.
“Bots are the future of communication for businesses that prioritize the customer experience and we’re excited to see the impact this technology can have in the insurance sector,” said Alex Kaplinsky of SmallTalk.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told the FinTech Ideas Festival in San Francisco in January that the future of chatbots can be seen in the insurance industry now in areas from sales to customer service “[Y]ou’re seeing a lot of action in terms of people building bots that have real natural language understanding,” CNBC reported Nadella said. “We have pilots going on with many, many customers.”
Next Insurance says its chatbot is the first in insurance to enable buyers to sign-up and pay completely over Facebook’s Messaging service, without having to even download its app
Founded in 2016 by a team of serial entrepreneurs, Next is headquartered in Palo Alto and received $13 million seed funding from Ribbit Capital, TLV Partners and Zeev Ventures.