Like Kayak, but for car insurance, a new search service called Insurify helps customers compare prices for policies across many companies.
Modeled on deal-hunting services for hotels, flights, and rental cars, Insurify lets shoppers enter their requirements and search the website for insurers. Insurify's algorithms pull quotes that match the queries from 82 insurance companies.
Customers can also text questions to a digital concierge called "Evia," and Insurify's virtual assistant will reply with answers and quotes.
Founder Snejina Zacharia said she wanted Insurify to keep up with the growing trend of message-based search conducted through conversations with virtual assistants powered by artificial intelligence — think Facebook's "M," Microsoft's Cortana, or Apple's Siri.
A chatty approach to search is easier, Zacharia said, because it doesn't require the customer to stay rooted in front of a computer monitor, or glued to their phone. "You could be shopping, you could be drinking with friends, you may be at work," Zacharia said.
Insurify's leadership draws on experience in the travel sector, a market that's further along in search technology. Among the advisers on the board is Giorgos Zacharia — Snejina Zacharia's husband — and chief technology officer at Kayak. Insurify's director of engineering, Steven Moseley, previously did a stint at TripAdvisor.
Zacharia was in a yearlong MBA program at MIT's Sloan School of Management when a highway incident left her car scratched. She tried to change her insurance plan and found it difficult to compare options among carriers.
"I was shocked to see how inefficient the market is in terms of consumer shopping," Zacharia said. "It's not easy for you to compare apples to apples."
In 2013, Zacharia entered her idea in MIT's $100K business plan contest and wound up a seminfinalist in the IT category. She spent the next few years building relationships within the industry and building out her team, which has grown to 13 full-time employees. New York firm RationalWave Capital Partners has invested $2 million in seed funding.
Insurify launches on Thursday, but you'll need an invite to try out the Evia messaging feature. Zacharia expects to launch to the full service by the end of the year.