AI commercial insurance platform Planck today announced it raised $16 million in equity financing, a portion of which came from Nationwide Insurance’s $100 million venture investment fund. CEO Elan Tsur says the proceeds will be used to finance expansion into geographies including Germany (in 2021) as the company works with U.S.-based commercial carriers including Chubb, Great American Insurance Group’s Republic Indemnity, and AIG’s Attune and others.

Injecting insurance processes with AI isn’t a new idea, but it stands to make a difference during uncertainty around the pandemic. Up-to-date and relevant data insights are arguably more important than ever, because they support digitization processes and help insurers better assess changes and their possible implications.

With only a company name and an address, Planck’s AI platform creates underwriting insights with a claimed 90% accuracy and coverage. Using natural language processing, computer vision, and unstructured data analysis, it scans thousands of resources including industry-specific sources, social networks, review sites, business websites and profiles, public records, governmental databases, and more to surface millions of data points about a business.

For example, Planck’s platform can classify images into thousands of categories (such as “roof” and “siding”) and detect individual objects (“ladder”), faces within images, and printed words. From text, it’s able to understand the structure and meaning of words, extracting information about people (like the business owner and other employees), events, services, products, and more mentioned in reviews, text documents, news articles, and blog posts. It looks at records that refer to the same entity across hundreds of different public data sources, such as licenses, violations, and inspections. And, leveraging satellite images and map layers, it can analyze property attributes as well as external risk-related facilities like distance to a fire station and mechanical, plumbing, and electrical permits.

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Planck says it runs all the info it extracts through algorithms that validate the relationships between entities and data, and that it aggregates the insights before formulating detailed answers to questions about underwriting and risk. Currently, Planck can underwrite risk for restaurants, bars, taverns, contractors, beauty salons, staffing, and manufacturing in addition to insurance lines such as workers’ compensation, general liability, employment practice liability, business owner policy, and more.

“In order to create an accurate answer, Planck gathers all available data pieces related to the specific entity from the open web, using AI it extracts information from each data piece, converted to ‘intermediate insights’ such as how many people are standing versus sitting in this bar, what is the intensity of the light in this place, how many beer bottles and wine glasses were detected compared to the number of dishes and plates detected, and more,” Tsur told VentureBeat via email. “Using a deep learning model that was trained on audited data sets to address this particular question, the intermediate insights are converted into the actual truth about the business.

Planck’s platform integrates with agents’ and brokers’ workflows, ostensibly saving time and improving the quality and completeness of underwriting data. It monitors changes in policies to allow carriers to create lists of prospective clients based on predefined criteria. And it enriches and search through in-house data, making data warehouses, databases, and data lakes explorable and testable while capturing and interpreting information from them.

Prior to founding Planck, Elad and cofounder Amir Cohen started data-mining company Bluetail, which Salesforce acquired for an undisclosed amount in July 2012. While at Salesforce, they led architecture efforts on the AI side, a part of which became Salesforce Einstein.

This latest investment in Planck — a series B — was led by Team8 Capital with participation from existing investors Viola FinTech, Arbor Ventures, and Eight Roads alongside new investors Nationwide and Hannover Digital Investments. It brings the four-year-old New York-based startup’s total raised to $28 million following a $12 million round in July 2018.

The insurance tech market is red hot at the moment — a record $2.5 billion went to U.S. insurance startup deals in 2018. Last year, online platform Next Insurance, which targets small business owners with a focus on specific niches (like landscaper insurance and personal trainer insurance), raised $250 million. In March 2019, Washington, D.C.-based workers’ compensation insurer Pie Insurance brought in $45 million, a month after CoverHound nabbed $58 million. Commercial insurance company Embroker raised $28 million for its policy-matching online platform last April, and Huckleberry — a startup that matches small businesses with insurance plans using AI — raised $18 million.

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