Let’s face it Life Insurance is pretty dull and most of us don’t want to think about it. For about 150 years the Life industry has sold its products on fear, basically scaring people into buying cover. But what if there was a different way, a better way to sell Life and Healthcare?
Welcome to your new life, welcome to Yulife.
Insurance Edge went along to this London based insurtech start-up to find out more about their mission to change the way people think and feel about Life cover.
IE: Let’s start with Yucoin, which we spotted on your website – tell us more about that please.
YU: Yucoin is a digital health currency we created to reward people for physical activity and mental wellbeing. So you can earn Yucoin by doing simple stuff like going for a walk, or doing mindfulness, using apps like Headspace, Calm etc and your phone picks it up and you earn a reward. At the end of the day it isn’t just a reward scheme, we are taking people on a little bit of a journey, so you can see that progression on the Yulife app. Every day someone gets to do a challenge, which could be walking, or mindfulness – plus we have things like swimming and cycling coming soon – and you are motivating each other as you complete these challenges.
IE: Yulife is aimed at companies right now, so is that proving to be a fun thing for employees to get involved with?
YU: There’s a bit of psychology behind what we are doing, which is probably best described as a holistic health and wellbeing approach, and we want to create a movement based around that idea. So we want the Yulife brand to be associated with that holistic lifestyle. We all know that going for a walk, or doing without tech for a while, plus eating healthier are good things to do, but most of gain from that is long term. It might all add up to another four or five years on your life, which is great, but that reward seems a long way off to many people.
What we are aiming to do is get people motivated in the short term by offering something for a positive change in people’s lives.
IE: Why invent your own currency though, why not just offer Costa coffee vouchers, or 5 percent off running gear on Amazon?
YU: We had a lot of debate about that when we launched Yulife. When we give vouchers directly then people associate the app with Avios or Amazon vouchers, but we wanted the flexibility to expand the branding, and the range of rewards by offering coins – it gives people choices.
IE: Life insurance is traditionall gloom and doom, but you have a much more `live you life’ approach with brand ambassadors. Tell us more about the ambassadors and their role.
YU: We have Dr Chatterjee, Deliciously Ella and Shamash Alidina and eahc of them bring something very unique to us. They’re more than brand ambassadors to us, for example Dr Chatterjee is our Chief Wellbeing Officer and lots of ideas in his book The Four Pillar Plan are also strong values that we share. Deliciously Ella is abviously a nutrition expert and developing specific content for us. Shamash Alidina is amazing because he’s one of the UK leaders in mindfulness, so we building his techniques into the Yulife app.
IE: There is a danger that a healthy lifestyle app can become a sort of Tough Mudder challenge isn’t there?
YU: It is amazing if you can do a Tough Mudder, but the real benefits to your life comes from making very small changes, tiny improvements, each and every day.
IE: One thing I do to keep fit is a bit of Motown and Soul dancing, which isn’t just a calorie burning thing, because the music and the socialising lifts the spirits too. That can make a difference to your overall wellbeing can’t it?
YU: Absolutely. One of the law firms that we are working with runs a ballroom dancing class. But on that point, do you know what the world’s most successful fitness app is?
YU: It’s Pokemon Go and it works brilliantly because it gets people outside, walking miles and trying to catch as many Pokemons as possible. It doesn’t say on the dashboard, `Here’s a Pedometer, get out and walk more.’ Instead it makes the activity itself pure fun, but the by-product is a healthier lifestyle.
IE: When I look at your app I see you’re aiming Yulife at a younger audience, but are you finding that by selling to companies they are getting employees at every fitness level, and every age group, to join in by doing something?
YU: We make it a valuable employee benefit because the wellbeing side of it is accessible to everyone. We can see from the usage stats that we are getting 24 hour engagement, right across gender, and right across every age range to, which is incredible for us to see. Between 9pm and midnight we see all kinds of mindfulness activity and then from say 6am to 9am we are seeing a huge spike in peole taking a walk, maybe getting off their Tube or bus route a couple of stops earlier to get that walking time in.
Across age, we see a spike around 30-35 and another big peak from say 50-55 years with mindfulness, meditation and so on.
IE: This is really interesting stuff because you can actually track changes in society, in the way we live. Knowing and understanding this data has potential to tie in with things the NHS are doing to help people with their health too doesn’t it?
YU: Yes, this is what Dr Chatterjee calls lifestyle prescription, but in terms of data sharing we don’t do any of that and we have no future plans to share that data at all in the future.
When people join our app we know the baseline activities and lifestyle that people are leading so we can can see that there’s an improvement in almost every person’s life within weeks. The whole experience is very positive and people are actually encouraging each other to do better within their own workplaces, so that’s another level of reinforcement at work there.
IE: This isn’t an expensive app for big corporations is it, the costs per employee, per month, are pretty reasonable.
YU: It starts at just £4.99 per month, so yeah it’s great value. What we are trying to do is offer real value for companies because they’re getting life cover for their employees, but they are also getting something that deliver some type of benefit in the now, a life coach that’s inspiring your staff.
IE: I notice that you have lots of Trustpilot reviews, how important is that to your branding?
YU: We chose Trustpilot over lots of insurance related review or rating sites because it is independent, and we aren’t a traditional Life insurance company offering a product that demands the user submit loads of data online, answer dozens of health questions and so on. In one way although the HR or Marketing Manager might buy Yulife, it’s the employees who are doing part of the selling for us, and we really value that feedback.
IE: You are members of Insurtech UK, which is really putting London on the map as a fantastic place to be when it comes to developing new products for the industry, tell us more about joining Insurtech UK.
YU: More than 50 Insurtech companies have come together to form this association and it gives us a stronger voice, and we are on the Best Practice committee. There are standards that we want to see when it comes to raising money from the venture capital sector, how can we help each other deal with the regulator, or agree standards on advertising. Rather than re-invent the wheel every time it’s better to agree some common goals and good practice in advance.
All start-ups begin with good intentions and they believe that they can create something that works better than the incumbents. But selling insurance is hard, the products are complicated and the industry hasn’t got the best reputation. But we want to deliver both to VC funders and the public alike, and it is people’s lives at the end of the day, so our products have to sell on old fashioned trust but do some of the logistics that bit better.
IE: Is some of the millions of dollars worth of investment piling into insurtech companies really justified?
YU: Thing is, you never know what is going to work. There was once an idea called Borrow My Doggie so people could share the experience of owning a pet, without actually spending on the vets bills, accessories and lots of food. We thought at the time this is never gonna work, it’s a terrible idea, but it took off and is one of the most successful online ventures around. People love it.
Insurtech is at that point right now, and it will be interesting to see which ideas last long term and which don’t really catch on. The way we are doing things at Yulife is tied up with how people feel about their lives, in the here and now, not the cash legacy they leave behind, so we feel that concept can lift people’s spirits and make them feel good about having life and health benefits cover.
IE: We are sure that you’re onto something different with the Yulife approach, good luck for the future.