What is the story of the birth of hubb?
My co-founder Ed and I were sat in a coffee shop after an industry conference. We were both disillusioned by what we both felt was a broken model.
Our frustration was born from the fact that we could see the end customer bearing the cost of our industry’s inefficiencies. As long as that is the case, there’s no incentive for internal change.
We began ideating “What if?” around various topics – from fee structures and automation to usage-based advice and insurer parity.
We simply never found an answer to “Why not?”
What is the impact that startups bring to the insurance industry?
Startups bring fresh ideas and energy.
They can gamble on the next big thing, without fear of catastrophe, where incumbents cannot. They can be bold and try new things. They can fail fast, pivot dramatically and look to the horizon without the burden of legacy.
In short, they are agile, exciting places to work. But more than anything, they put pressure on the incumbents to do better, to evolve and to consider new ideas.
The coronavirus had a massive impact on the insurance industry. Tell us what has changed for your company? How have you adapted to the new environment?
For us, it has expedited our growth dramatically.
Customers have embraced digital service, eCommerce and remote engagement overnight. The inability to do things face-to-face has highlighted to many the inefficiencies of that mode of business. I would much rather invest in technology that can enable my team to deliver a first-class customer service remotely. There is no value to either side having team members stuck on the M25 on a Wednesday afternoon for the sake of being in the same room.
We have found that the technology we have in place enables us to invest more time assessing, managing and documenting our client’s needs. That can only lead to better advice.
What is your perspective of the UK InsurTech scene e.g. what are the main challenges it faces and how is it benefiting small start-ups and SMEs?
The UK InsurTech scene is super exciting and one we’re very proud to be a part of.
InsurTech can deliver laser-focused product offerings that may otherwise be overlooked by incumbents. Its strength is also perhaps its biggest challenge, though – achieving scale within a niche.
We also need to be careful that we remember why we’re here; it’s not to build “cool stuff”. The ability to identify, sell to and delight customers must be the only real measure of success. If we invest the time to understand those niche customers, we become a huge difference maker.
What are SMEs looking for when seeking to buy insurance and how do you meet these requirements?
Too often we overcomplicate this in pursuit of trying to make insurance something it isn’t. We’re never going to make insurance exciting or desirable. It’s a grudge purchase and people use brokers because they need help understanding the parts of their business where they risk loss.
So, SME’s want the cover they need at the lowest possible cost. But that sentiment needs to expand twofold.
“The cover they need” extends beyond simple sums insured. Consider the insurer stability, breadth of cover, exclusions, excesses, claims service and warranties. hubb have invested in a broking platform that promotes competition amongst insurers to provide you with the best possible match to your needs.
And cost is not only the price itself. It’s the time customers take to manage their risk, understand their obligations, and comply with terms. It’s also the time completing paperwork for their broker and answering endless questions. hubb have developed technology that enables us to find these answers for ourselves with minimal input from the customer.
Do you think SMEs “get”/trust the new challenger tech insurance brands or do companies such as yourselves need to do more to educate them about the benefits you can provide?
Some will, some won’t.
There will be early adopters and there will be those who will fight to their dying breath to keep things as they’ve always been. That’s the wonder of humans – we are wildly complex yet fundamentally simple beings.
But that same polarising viewpoint is why it’s so important for us to be providing insurance customers with options.
We saw the same in the banking industry as many moved across to digital banks from incumbents, keen for a new experience. Those same customers are likely to be first to knock on our door.
When Dominos experienced trust issues, they opened their kitchens to scrutiny. We’ve done the same thing, deploying an open back office that, instead of asking you to trust us, shows you everything we’re doing, in microscopic detail. That forces us to hold ourselves to the very highest standards at all times.
Given the last two years we’ve all had, I don’t believe that the insurance industry is entitled to ask clients to trust us now. We must earn back that trust.
How do you see UK InsurTech developing over the next decade and what is hubb’s place within it?
It will go from strength to strength as insurers realise that InsurTechs are a distribution channel that delivers them unrivalled agility and expertise.
Moreover, it is the creation of intercommunicating technology ecosystems that can enable customers to receive truly world-class, intelligent user experiences. It is the ability for the customer to easily buy, understand and draw value from their insurance policy that most excites me.
Our goal is not to just create a novel solution for a small sub-section of buyers, but to normalise a usage-based model. Advice should be impartial, value-led and radically transparent. And regulation needs to reinforce these values, removing the temptation for brokers to prioritise profit.