Insurance startup Sure raises $8 million and launches smartphone protection based on virtual diagnostics

Fledgling insurance startup Sure has raised $ 8 million in a series A round of funding led by IA Capital, with contributions from Menlo Ventures, FF Venture Capital, Nationwide Ventures, Assurant, and AmTrust.

Founded out of New York in 2014, Sure is one of a number of insurtech startups to come to the fore in recent years, promising on-demand coverage for everything from apartments to pets, flight cancellations, and weddings. The company also said it uses an AI-powered “robo broker” to help users find the best insurance.

 Insurance startup Sure raises $8 million and launches smartphone protection based on virtual diagnostics

Above: Sure Insurance

Available on the web and through native mobile apps on Android and iOS, Sure doesn’t underwrite its own policies, instead focusing on building the technology while it partners with insurance firms such as Chubb and Nationwide, which do the underwriting on its behalf.

Alongside today’s funding news, Sure is launching what it touts as a “first-of-its-kind smartphone protection” product. The insurance can be purchased any time during a mobile phone’s lifetime, with Sure able to remotely test the health of a device before issuing a policy. The technology, which Sure said is “patent pending,” allows the company to carry out diagnostics in less than a minute directly through the Sure mobile app and test things like battery, memory, CPU, and more entirely autonomously.

 Insurance startup Sure raises $8 million and launches smartphone protection based on virtual diagnostics

Above: Testing

Though much of the test requires no human interaction, some of the specific feature diagnostics do require input. The touchscreen test, for example, asks the user to color the entire screen blue with their finger.

 Insurance startup Sure raises $8 million and launches smartphone protection based on virtual diagnostics

For the smartphone insurance, Sure has partnered with Warrantech, an offshoot of AmTrust — the insurance giant that participated in this latest round of funding.

“Sure is fundamentally improving the insurance industry and making it digital through mobile tech, AI, and advanced data analytics, via our complete carrier platform in partnership with insurance companies,” explained Sure founder and CEO Wayne Slavin. “Unlike any ‘disruptors’ in this industry, we take a contrarian approach. The existing insurance industry is strong, and Sure is making it stronger with enhancements to the distribution, administration, and claims process using technology.”

While it’s true that some insurtech startups are setting out to underwrite their own policies — including the likes of Lemonade, which recently launched in California, its third market — many others are taking the “contrarian” approach through partnering with existing giants of the insurance world. These include Hippo, which recently raised $ 14 million to grow its home insurance platform; on-demand insurance platform Trov, which just raised $ 45 million ahead of its U.S. launch; and Next Insurance, which recently grabbed $ 29 million for an online platform that targets small businesses with tailored plans.

Using third-party underwriters rather than seeking licences in each state has enabled Sure to scale more quickly across the U.S. and is why other similar startups are adopting this approach.

Prior to now, Sure had raised around $ 3 million in seed funding, and with its latest cash injection the company said it plans to double down on its product development, acquire new users, and invest in marketing.

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