April 20, 2023

Our Story: The Beginning

Hi Marley’s co-founders. Mike Greene, Mitesh Suchak and John Miller have deep insurance industry experience and fostered strong relationships across the ecosystem throughout their careers. And with that knowledge and those connections, they built an appreciation for the industry and how it can help people, and also an understanding of why it can be frustrating to consumers. They started Hi Marley with bold ideas on how insurance can better serve the people they protect. They worked directly with carrier experts, listened to their feedback and designed a product that responds to the evolving needs of insurance providers and their customers.

Before Hi Marley

Hi Marley’s story began in 2007, when Mike Greene brought together his mentor, Judy Merante, his college friend, John Miller, and his IBM colleague, Mitesh Suchak, to create Futurity Group, a startup that provided software and consulting services for P&C claims.

“We saw an opportunity in the insurance industry,” said Mike Greene. “It was a firecracker. Aon bought us three years in and still uses the software today.”

The group joined Aon as part of the acquisition deal and agreed to stay for three years, which turned into seven years. During this time, Judy retired but remained a friend and confidant to the founders. Mike, John and Mitesh started raising families, but even with job security and young children at home, they were itching to start another company.

Over the years, they’d get together and kick around ideas. Once they started ideating around the emergence of chatbots and how that could relate to the insurance industry, something stuck.

InsurTech Emerges: Customer Experience at the Forefront

By 2017, Amazon raised the bar in customer experience, changing customer expectations and forcing industries to evolve. Airlines, banks and other sectors were starting to change. Insurance was also embarking on its digital transformation, with companies like Lemonade trying to change the customer experience. The centuries-old insurance industry seemed ready for innovation and open to new technology that would make carriers more competitive.

At the same time, chatbots were gaining traction across professional services. And with AI technology and natural language processing making leaps in functionality, users could visit a website or text a number and ask a question, then the AI would respond. The co-founders had a friend in financial services who built chatbots for banks. People could ask, “what’s my bank balance?” Or “I want to pay this bill” and complete whatever task they needed immediately, without speaking with a human representative. It was so simple, yet so impressive. They could see the value of using something like this in the insurance industry, and the ideas started flowing.

For example, Mitesh Suchak experienced wind damage to his roof, a claim that took eight months full of phone tag and frustration to resolve. “It was not a good experience,” said Mitesh Suchak. “A claim rep would leave me a voicemail, and then I’d call back when they were unavailable and leave another voicemail. And when we finally got a hold of each other, there were more steps.” Mitesh Suchak explained that he had to put the claim rep in touch with the general contractor, and the general contractor then needed to hire a roofer. Then they found out the manufacturer discontinued the shingle used on his roof. So, he now had to get approval from the carrier to replace the entire roof, which meant trying to reach the insurance rep again, more voicemails and repeating the whole cycle.

“It wasn’t just one-to-one communication; I needed to communicate with the whole insurance ecosystem,” said Mitesh Suchak. “I thought there has to be a better way.”

He continued, “We knew from our professional and personal experiences that people could dislike this industry. A lot of people don’t trust this industry. So, we started to focus on how can we take this idea of messaging to streamline communication for the entire ecosystem and make the experience simple and lovable?”

Ideation Sparks Idea for Improving Communication

“We talked about how frustrating it can be just to report a claim, let alone reach a resolution,” said John Miller. “And we thought, ‘Imagine if we could use texting to simplify just getting in touch with your insurance company?’ So, we started mocking it up, sending texts back and forth from our phones and thinking this is what the experience could be like.”

Hi Marley started with the vision that it’s possible to enable better customer service and improve communication across the entire insurance ecosystem, starting with text messaging.

Read more about Our Story.

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