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Being Smart Before the Fire With Quilt Insurance

For the moonlighting insurance buyer, Quilt is designing products for you. Published: October 15, 2019

The round-the-clock responsiveness of Quilt renters insurance is in part possible because of a bot: Patches. Artificial intelligence is one feature that the rapidly growing startup company, which launched in 2015, has developed and tested in-house to stand out from more legacy brands. From Quilt’s robust online customer portal to expansion in Florida and Texas, the company is promoting its transparency to attract young adult renters in cities including New York. Quiddity spoke with Nichole Mace, Quilt’s senior vice president of product & customer experience, about transparency, convenience, and being smart ahead of time.

For young, urban single people or couples, what are the most important things about your renters insurance policy to know? Know that you have support and that you're going to get really great service in the process. When you have questions, we’re available for you. The overall experience is very clean and simple.

How would you describe the long-term value of protecting yourself with Quilt’s renters insurance versus the short-term value? Most people don't think that things can go wrong in the short term. But it's those things that come up later that you're not anticipating, like a fire in your building. While the chances are low, when they do happen, they can be financially devastating. By being smart and thinking about the things you own, you’re protecting yourself for the long term. The longer you have renters insurance, the greater opportunity you'll have for a claim.

How is your company working to dispel common myths about renter’s insurance? We’re trying to be really transparent and really relevant. Traditionally, people have thought renters insurance covers a couch if someone comes in and steals it. The reality is, where most of people have their money today is in electronics or clothes, things like that. As far as dispelling myths, it's being transparent, communicating with what is covered, and providing examples that make sense to people. If you're on your laptop at a Starbucks, and you run to the bathroom, and someone steals your laptops—those are the examples that people, especially young people, connect with. The products have not changed dramatically, but the way people use and benefit from the products has evolved.

Are there any U.S. markets you’re focusing on in terms of promoting renter’s insurance? Why? We’re in most states. We've been targeting a little bit more Texas and Florida. In Florida, there are a lot of renters and there's definitely a need for renters insurance. There are a lot of disasters that can happen in Florida with the weather. To have coverage there really matters because there’s a higher chance of something going wrong. We’re also in a lot of urban areas where landlords are now requiring renters insurance.

Is there any emerging technology that’s helping Quilt better connect with consumers? We have artificial intelligence, a great way to communicate with your customers for some of those really basic questions. We have a chatbot named Patches, and we have a human who is available. Patches can answer some of the more basic, repetitive questions quickly and with thoughtful answers. We've been training our chatbot—it's gender neutral—for a very long time, who can really solve people's problems and answer their questions. If it's the middle of the night people can get their answers really quickly.

What’s one way you recently revised your renters insurance to reflect broader market trends? When we started, we actually didn't realize how strong the trend was towards landlords and property managers requiring renters insurance. We've revised our policy to make it super easy for people to add their landlord to their policy. Then the customer has a policy with their name and their landlord’s name that they can send to their property manager.

What specific features make your renters insurance easy to access? How about to renew? We have a customer portal that makes it super easy for people to log right in. It lists out all their reportings, and it makes it easy to start the claims process. That's really the heart of the customer experience after they buy. And the policy autorenews.

What classic renters insurance drawbacks are you able to avoid? One of the classics is specifically contacting an insurance agent to get your insurance policy going. Physically going to a location, faxing back and forth, a bunch of phone calls. With us, it's any time of day. We have a lot of people who buy insurance at 11 at night. They can do it all online, all by themselves. We provide all the information to make them feel comfortable making a decision. People who are really digitally-minded are comfortable buying things and fitting them into their world. It feels not as accessible when you're working full-time and you’re required to have three or four phone calls with an insurance agent or go down to an agency. Fitting into [consumers’] world is how we think we're differentiating. It's a different mindset in how you go about buying products and making decisions.

How are you ensuring renters insurance consumers that they can trust an online outlet without much history? Everyone should always look for the A and best rating. We are backed by carriers that are rated excellently. That's the bottom line with insurance. That's who you need to make sure you are underwritten by at the end of the day.

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