In this interview Insurance Edge talks to Phil Zeidler, CEO of Leicester based DeadHappy, to find out more about this brand new, refreshing approach to the old fashioned & incredibly dull world of Life insurance.
As Insurtech starts to change every aspect of our industry, this is the perfect moment to re-think Life cover from the ground up.
Instead of a dry, dusty old policy that reeks of fear and doom, DeadHappy are producing a product that lets people stamp their personality, values and dreams into their own legacy – it’s absolutely right on the money for today’s millennial generation and marketed with a twist of Black Mirror humour at the heart of the offer.
IE: Would you say the Life sector is the most untouched by insurtech so far, and so has the biggest potential for insurers and brokers alike?
PZ: There is definitely a potential for a big change in the market. It’s interesting to see companies like Anorak doing stuff already, but there is a general problem in Life cover, there for all to see; 25 year fixed policies, sold via the fear factor. That’s a major issue but then there’s more; customers cancel the product years down the line as their life changes in a fundamental way; new job, house, marriage, children etc.
You know the average mortgage doesn’t even last 25 years now, not without interruption or re-mortgaging at some stage, so why should Life insurance remain a fixed offer for so long? It is a mystery. DeadHappy seeks to throw that traditional business model out and replace it with something truly different – and the reaction has been brilliant so far, especially to our Death Wishes idea.
IE: So consumers are really responding well to features like leaving behind a sum to fund a wake for your mates in Ibiza?
PZ: It’s fantastic, great reaction all round with some brilliant Trustpilot ratings too. People are really thinking carefully about the legacy they can leave behind, and wanting to make a difference when they’re gone, leave behind something good, truly lasting. Nobody wants to mention the D word in Life insurance, but we’re finding lots of people happy to talk about Death Wishes. It means a great deal to know that a charity of yours will benefit when you’re no longer aorund – people really love that idea.
IE: There’s a unique strand of humour running through your website and marketing, do you think the insurance industry as a whole needs to transform its image, or are some sectors like say car cover already fairly irreverent and jokey enough?
PZ: You know I’ve been involved in motor insurance, telematics, home and more and the general comment you get when you mention that you work in insurance is; `oh right, sounds a bit dull.’ But we are having fun with DeadHappy and yes, I feel the whole industry could try harder to make their services sound a bit less boring. If you want people to be engaged then don’t make it a distress purchase, make it a happier experience.
IE: Can DeadHappy utilise social media to help calculate individual risk, say noting a change of job from library assistant to motorcycle journalist?
PZ: There’s no doubt that social media is providing insurers with lots of data, but the question is where is the true value in that data? I think that side of things is still evolving and companies like Vitality are showing the way ahead by matching lifestyle data to health cover.
IE: What if a young policyholder left Uni, spent a gap year travelling and then blagged a job in NZ – still covered?
PZ: Most activities are covered with DeadHappy. Some really competitive sports are excluded but bungee jumping is fine, go-karting, Tough Mudders, Tri-athlons, kayak adventures etc – all the things that you might have a crack at during a gap year or just travelling the world. The policy comes with a ten year lifeline, but it’s easy to manage on the go and extend the cover if you like. It needs to be that flexible because life changes – and so your cover needs change too.
IE: Random question; Milk chocolate Hob Nobs or Fox’s choco crunch cookies, which is the King of biscuits?
PZ: OK, I’m gonna say Jammy Dodgers. They’re smiley.
IE: Good answer. How useful is phone/tablet geo location data to DeadHappy, when compared to say car insurance?
PZ: If people are spending large amounts of time in very remote parts of the world then that may affect something like healthcare cover, but as regards DeadHappy, what’s covered is covered. It’s a bit like telematics in a way, as this type of data will inevitably become more detailed, and more useful, to insurers in the future.
IE: Any brand ambassadors that you would love to have on your wishlist for DeadHappy, and why?
PZ: We are chatting to a few people right now, that’s all I can say. When you consider how much money has already been pledged to charities via our Death Wishes feature I think that brand ambassadors from the charity sector are the way to forward.
IE: Could brokers partner up by embedding a DeadHappy download button on their website and social media feeds?
PZ: We are in the process of setting up an affiliates network. Life insurance is a product that many mortgage brokers can struggle to sell, so we aim to change all that. We are still testing things but we hope to really open up the market with DeadHappy.
IE: Can DeadHappy customers use Paypal, ApplePay, iZettle or other money apps to pay, rather than old school direct debits?
PZ: This is on the to-do list, definitely.
IE: Finally, what has been the hardest thing about launching DeadHappy, and what was the biggest/nicest surprise?
PZ: Ahh, good question. I guess the hardest thing about all this is that it’s been a dream from ten years back, and it has taken so long to come to market, to get people to believe in it completely.
The nicest surprise has been how well the whole DeadHappy Death Wishes concept has been received by the public. The amazing feelgood comments that we are getting from social media and the website prove that this is what many people want from Life insurance; a chance to really express your values as a human being once you’ve gone. If you had offered me just half the charity legacy amounts, and a fraction of the positive feedback that we’ve had so far, way back at the start of this process, then I’d have snatched your hand off.
It’s been THE most exciting start-up I’ve been involved with, just brilliant.
IE: More to come we think – cheers Phil.