The Connected Self in the Connected World
Fitbit just announced its Q1 results. They sold nearly 5 million Fitbits in the first 3 months of 2016 and now have annual revenues of $0.5bn. This is just one of many data collecting devices that makes up the network known as the Internet of Things (“IoT”).
There are already more devices than people connected to the Internet and, according to Gartner; there will be 21 billion connected devices in circulation in the next 5 years.
Whilst “wearables” is not, in itself, an insurance technology, the growth in wearables will have a significant impact on the way that insurance is underwritten and sold. Just as we are seeing the shift towards Usage Based Insurance (UBI) in motor and risk prevention in Property, we are also seeing a shift towards personalized premiums in Health and Life.
Another major shift is towards “Engagement Insurance” (see previous article on this subject here). No longer will we simply buy insurance, forget about the policy and not hear anything from the company that took our money until we receive a renewal notice a year later.
Insurers like Vitality and Oscar are engaging their policyholders everyday with feedback on their activity levels, competition with friends and family, and providing rewards for achieving well being goals. Not only is this incredibly sticky business with reduced levels of churn, it also removes price as the primary buying criteria.
Meet the founders of Sureify
I first met Dustin Yoder, CEO of Sureify at the Munich Re sponsored Mundi Lab in Madrid. Dustin and his father, Greg, were there for the InsurTech cohort that started in March this year. I was there to give a sales master class to the cohort of mainly European and Latin American InsurTech start-ups.
Dustin and Greg are from an insurance family with acres of experience in life insurance and employee benefits. And there’s more than just a family connection going on here, together they combine old and the new world of insurance and tech.
Greg is an old school insurance broker with a millennial attitude. Dustin has insurance in his DNA and his attitude towards improving the customer experience of insurance reminds me of similar discussions I’ve had with James York, founder of Worry+Peace.
Putting the Customer First!
Sureify is an insurance technology platform that allows insurers to digitally acquire, engage, and up-sell with prospective and current policyholders. Part of the platform capabilities includes health, disability, and life insurance products built around IoT devices to enable dynamic premium modelling.
It is a platform that emphasizes web and mobile distribution channels with multiple engagement possibilities. And it is offered as a white label platform for the carriers where they define the underwriting questions, policy terms, risk, and pricing tables using a plug and play approach.
The Sureify vision is global. “Our goal is to bridge the gap between insurers and their customers around the globe.
We want to enable the new types of products and experiences that consumers want in different markets and create a platform that can be customized and localized for each country“, explained Dustin.
Dustin’s vision is crystal clear. Which probably comes from the fact that he’s tried and failed several times creating his InsurTech business.
Persistence pays off!
“If at first you don’t succeed, then stop, listen to your customers and then try, try again.” Dustin told me. He has been influenced by the Steve Blank and Eric Ries lean start-up methodologies, taking to heart the lesson of putting the customer’s desires first by actually speaking with them. He has spent thousands of hours with both consumers and insurance carriers to understand what it is that they want.
Dustin originally launched an insurance policy aggregation platform that was compared to Mint.com but for consumers’ insurance polices instead of bank accounts. He “thought” that customers would want to bring all their insurance policies to one place and then have them analysed by an unbiased 3rd party.
“When we marketed the product online and ran 100’s of in-person customer discovery sessions, we found that no one woke up in the morning thinking they needed a single place to store all their insurance policies. Even worse than that, we found it to be the lowest rated feature an insurance product could offer!”
While the premise may have been misguided, the pain points and consumer dissatisfaction concerning insurance was a consistent theme that emerged.
In 2014, Sureify’s product was tweaked after a call with Guardian Life Insurance. Their wisdom on this subject was that it was Life insurance that needed innovation. All of Guardian’s data showed that consumers did not understand what they were buying with today’s Life insurance products.
So, Sureify built a Life insurance learning platform.
“But nobody wanted that either, even though they clearly needed it. Looking back, I guess I should have known a normal consumer was not going to read simple explanations, review simple graphics, or watch a video on life insurance … no matter how cool it was “, said Dustin. “You have to let your pride go and listen to what customers are telling you“.
Why this time and why the Sureify “LifeTime” platform?
This time, Dustin has been listening to both sides of the buy/sell market.
On the sell side, aka the Carriers, around 90%+ of sales are still made through agents in the US.
With the average age of the US Life insurance agent in the mid-50s, it is easy to see how a millennial generation could feel disconnected.
Another major challenge is the lack of change to insurance products over the last century. Carriers have neglected to update their product offerings.
On the buy side, aka the Customers, attitudes towards insurance companies are changing. Customers want digital solutions and a new kind of engagement. Simply sending spam letters or showing up on the door isn’t going to cut it anymore.
Dustin explained; “the average consumer today MAY buy insurance from an agent, but they WILL research it first online and not rely on the agent as their parents would have done.”
Dustin and the Sureify team of 27+ are taking their technology platform to market by partnering with carriers around the globe.
The business model is a platform as a service and is white labelled to enable carriers to enter new markets in a branded, customizable and agile manner. The solution is an end-to-end tech solution and does not have to consider a big legacy system or compete against other internal priorities to launch a new product on an old system. The whole product can be built and launched on the Sureify platform with options to integrate where desired.
The essence of the product proposition is simple.
Sureify provide a cloud-based insurance platform for carriers to configure their own products and engage with their users from a digital control centre. These products can take data collected from 250+ IoT devices, engage with a user’s health, all the while being connected to a policyholder’s smartphones to enable engagement with customers.
I leave the final word to Dustin:
“The goal of the Sureify LifeTime platform is to enable digital customer engagement through the life-time of the policyholder.
“Since the creation of insurance, carriers have ceded customer relationships to disloyal agents who typically sell a product and move on. The result has been confused & abandoned customers, a poor customer experience, and little or no positive experiences to share thereafter. This will never result in the satisfaction and loyalty that insurers desire.”
“The LifeTime platform is about bridging the gap between insurance carriers and their customers, bringing cohesion to the insurance experience for the consumer and giving insurers a complete tool set to engage meaningfully and profitably with their customers.”
Wearables enable life & health insurers to better understand & engage with customers – an article featuring Fitsense.
The emergence of “Engagement” insurance – featuring WeSavvy and Oscar.
Forget yoga, wearables insurance is the path to a better life – featuring Vitality.
The author, Rick Huckstep, is an InsurTech thought leader and editor of InsurTech Weekly for The Digital Insurer.