As the rain continues to pour down across the UK, Insurance Edge thought it was the perfect time to talk about flood protection, claims and the latest trends in home insurance with Adam Powell, COO and Founder of Policy Expert.
IE: Bringing claims in house is an interesting move as the general strategy is to outsource that aspect, what are the key benefits?
“We brought our claims team in-house to give us greater control of the consumer experience. We now have control over the claim process ensuring claims are handled correctly and in line with our terms and conditions.
“We use our own surveyors and approved repair network with an exclusive Policy Expert builder panel, guaranteeing work for two years – twice the market norm. Both customer claims and builders are paid quickly to ensure swift completion of work, significantly reducing financial and emotional costs for our customers.
“We deal directly with policy holders and have actively written loss assessors out of our policies to avoid inflating claims and protect honest customers from the impact on policy costs. By carrying out an in-depth review of each claim ourselves, we can ensure that other customers do not pay the price of fraudulent claims. In addition, we have access to unfiltered data which can be used for risk profiling, which can often become lost in translation with third parties, such as claims handlers.”
IE: Regarding data, do you think the day will come when households with interactive listening devices will automatically get cheaper cover?
“With many UK households owning at least one device with voice-activated features, access to this technology is quickly becoming widespread. Though listening devices are yet to hit the mainstream in the insurance industry in terms of informing premiums, this hardware is starting to be used more broadly across financial services with banking institutions in particular beginning to trial voice-assisted features and services.
“It may be some time before customers use listening devices to purchase insurance, but using technology to inform risk is certainly the prevailing direction of travel. Our technology infrastructure is fully primed for the wider use of voice activation and listening technology as soon as today’s aggregated marketplace is ready for it.”
IE: Why buy Sure Thing!? What makes it so unique?
“Entering the motor market has always been part of our long-term plan. With over 30 million cars in the UK, there is a significant market opportunity. By offering two main general insurance products we will also be able to cross-sell motor insurance to our home insurance customers and vice versa – giving customers the benefit of competitive pricing and consistent, high quality service.
“Policy Expert was built for aggregated distribution. Sure Thing! is heavily focussed on price comparison websites and they also share our passion for exceptional service – we were both winners in the Insurance Choice Awards in 2017 and 2018, so it was a natural acquisition from that point of view. We believe that Sure Thing! has enormous potential, and we’ve bought the business to grow it with a new analytics team already up and running.
“We intend to align Sure Thing! to the Policy Expert model, which means integrating our best-in-class data analytics, pricing and underwriting capabilities to the existing business. We are also planning to rebrand Sure Thing! over the course of the next year incorporating the brand into Policy Expert further. This will take time, but we’re confident that Sure Thing! will be a very different business in 12 months’ time and one that constantly evolves and improves.”
IE: How can insurers use tech to deliver better customer service and set their brand apart online?
“Technology has enormous potential to deliver a better service for consumers if it delivers genuine customer benefits and offers more than front-end gimmicks or digital window dressing.
“At the point of purchase, optimising the digital journey allows customers to manage their own policies. At Policy Expert, 90% of our sales are made online and it takes customers three clicks to purchase insurance from the landing page, while our online Help Centre and social media channels provide customers with prompt responses to any queries about their policy.
“Technology also facilitates better customer service after the initial purchase. We send proactive text alerts to warn home insurance customers in at-risk areas of any incoming poor weather fronts, while technology also benefits consumers during the claims process. For example, we position Policy Expert vans equipped with exclusive drying technology in areas likely to need assistance, minimising response time and allowing customers to return to their homes faster.”
Have we reached peak insurtech investment, is there perhaps too much money being pumped in based on hope and fear, rather than sound business opportunities?
“The UK insurtech industry is at a pivotal point of growth: data from Willis Towers Watson1 shows investment in UK insurtech is growing at a faster rate compared to other countries, and we’d expect this to continue. We were proud to have a seat at the table earlier this year for talks between Insurtech UK and the Department for International Trade about opening up new opportunities for the sector, which provide a chance to demonstrate impact on a wider scale.
“However, in recent months, the insurtech industry has seen two high profile companies – Kinsu and Back Me Up – shut up shop. There has been a wave of innovation in recent years, with 21st century insurers outnumbering incumbents by two to one. New insurtech businesses are in a race to scale – they have to apply their technology, acquire and maintain customers in order to drive growth if they’re to successfully challenge industry incumbents.
“The race to scale is a marathon, not a sprint. Many insurtechs fail before they reach that tipping point. There are a whole host of hazards and potholes on the road to success, from technology and distribution models not being agile enough, to not being able to balance significant required investment. Investors need to be confident that an insurtech business has its fundamentals right before they invest.”
IE: What can be done to boost the take-up by tenants when it comes to home/contents cover?
“Home insurance is seen by many as a grudge purchase in principle, and that’s before they’ve even got to grips with the many frictions and frustrations that the industry has become notorious for serving up over the years.
“The grudge element can be reduced for tenants by getting the basics rights to a higher standard – low pricing of policies that are clear and easy-to-understand, with the right level of cover and as much care given to customers when they’re renewing or claiming as when you’re trying to attract their business in the first place.
“Insurers need to do more to educate tenants on the different types of cover available and therefore encourage them to take out the right insurance that protects their assets.”
IE: Best flood detection device that you’ve seen lately, and why?
“The popularity of flood detection devices has risen in the last couple of years, but an effective device needs to do more than boost call-out rates and create unnecessary repair jobs.
“Prevention is better than a cure and devices which pierce the pipe and detect leaks before they spring up, as opposed to devices which sit under a sink or washing machine and detect a leak once it has started, are clearly the way forward. While these devices are more expensive, accuracy is crucial; otherwise, insurers risk annoying consumers with false alarms for flooding.”