Japanese firm taps Israeli AI startup to automate commercial insurance

Sompo signs deal with Tel Aviv-based Planck to use machine learning platform for underwriting

Ricky Ben-David is The Times of Israel’s Tech Israel editor and reporter.

From right to left: Sompo Tel Aviv Business Development Manager Meytal Shavit, Planck co-founder and CEO Elad Tsur, head of the Sompo Digital Lab Tel Aviv Yinnon Dolev, and Diyaa Shridi, chief technology officer at Sompo Digital Lab Tel Aviv. (Michael Cohen)
From right to left: Sompo Tel Aviv Business Development Manager Meytal Shavit, Planck co-founder and CEO Elad Tsur, head of the Sompo Digital Lab Tel Aviv Yinnon Dolev, and Diyaa Shridi, chief technology officer at Sompo Digital Lab Tel Aviv. (Michael Cohen)

Japan’s second-largest commercial insurance provider, Sompo, has tapped Israeli tech startup Planck, a developer of an artificial intelligence-based insurance data platform, to help automate some of the firm’s underwriting processes in a major deal for the Israeli company.

Founded in 2016 in Tel Aviv, Planck’s platform allows insurers to automatically underwrite commercial businesses by drawing on a range of data sources including public records, online images, videos, and reviews and applying machine learning to generate risk-related insights.

The solution, Planck said in a statement this week, “reduces the effort of manually filling in questionnaires and allows Sompo to assess risk relying on automated, accurate data input, greatly improving quote to submission time and increasing premium accuracy.” The startup said Sompo saved an estimated $140 million in annual operational expenses by adopting data automation.

As part of the agreement, Planck’s platform will be connected to various systems of Sompo Japan through API, or application programming interface, integration and will be used as a risk information analysis platform for customers, the Japanese company said.

The collaboration is set to yield “detailed risk analysis for SME [small- and medium-sized enterprises] customers which has been difficult until now. By utilizing this platform, we aim to realize an exceptional customer experience and efficiency in insurance sales by proposing comprehensive insurance products and risk solution services according to the risks of each SME customers, and a simple and easy system to purchase insurance,” Sompo said.

“Due to the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters and the spread of COVID19, the risks surrounding companies are rapidly changing and becoming more complex. In the course of these changes, a need for comprehensive coverage for risks surrounding each customers’ corporate activities is increasing,” it added.

The Japanese firm operates as a multinational in 30 countries with over 80,000 employees and 30 million customers worldwide. The company reported annual net income of $1.29 billion in the 2020 fiscal year and has $111 billion in total assets.

Sompo has been operating in Israel through its Digital Lab Tel Aviv, established in 2018 to tap into Israeli fintech and insurtech startups. The lab has invested over $20 million in Israeli startups including smart car dashcam company Nexar, robot developer Intuition Robotics, and health data platform

Planck CEO and co-founder Elad Tsur said the agreement was the startup’s first in the Japanese market. “Integrating Planck’s technology within Sompo’s underwriting procedure represents our company’s first foothold and entry into the Japanese market,” he said in the company statement. “We are excited to collaborate with Sompo’s Digital Lab in Israel to positively impact the economics of their business, providing automation they must adopt to stay competitive given the commercial insurance industry’s continual and, rapidly increasing, complexities.”

Planck already works with a number of insurance companies in the US such as Attune (AIG), Republic Indemnity (Great American Insurance Group) and Chubb. The Israeli startup hopes to expand the collaboration with Sompo “to other business units, supporting additional use cases and added operational benefits, in the near future.”

Yinnon Dolev, head of the Sompo Digital Lab Tel Aviv, said the Japanese firm was “delighted about the Planck partnership and believe[s] through Planck’s platform, we will improve the commercial insurance customer experience and increase the accuracy level of our underwriting capabilities.”

Planck has offices in Tel Aviv and New York with a workforce of some 80 people. The startup has raised $50 million to date with 3L Capital, Greenfield Partners, Arbor Ventures, Viola Fintech, Team8 and Eight Roads.

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