Ageas launches app-based millennial insurer Back Me Up with monthly fee

back-me-up

  • MD Paul Lynes heads the business funded by a Group Innovation Fund controlled out of Belgium
  • Almost half of young people have mobiles that are not insured
  • App offers cover for three possessions, plus travel and mobile phone screen repair

A new app-based insurance start-up aimed at millennials has launched this week targeting the millions of 18 to 34-year-olds who do not currently buy contents, travel or device cover.

Developed and underwritten by Ageas, Back Me Up offers cover for a flat fee of £15 per month, for which customers will receive protection for three items against accidental and malicious damage, loss and theft, with a claims limit of up to £3000 in total each month - switchable at any time by uploading a photo. Exclusions include pets or motorised vehicles.

The £15 fee also covers annual mobile phone screen repair, regardless of whether the phone is one of the three items or not; worldwide and UK travel cover for lost items, cancellations and medical emergencies; up to £1500 for replacement car or house keys and locks, if keys are lost or users are locked out.

Users can also build their own cover, adding modular style bolt-ons from £3 per month, which range from landlord conflict cover to adventure sports.

Ageas plans to underwrite the entire book - apart from legal expenses, which is provided by DAS Legal Assistance, and breakdown from Call Assist.

With funding from the central Ageas Group Innovation Fund and with the backing of the UK board, Back Me Up has been in development for 12 months, with a dozen-strong team assembled at the start of the year to bring it to fruition.

The venture is headed by managing director Paul Lynes, who joined Ageas from Standard Life Healthcare in 2009 as head of external communication, moving to director of communications and public affairs in 2015.

He told Post: "Different insurers have approached this innovation piece in a number of different ways and for us it was all about getting out there and talking to the customers.

"And this involved speaking to young, independently minded people who told us that they have not engaged with the insurance market while still thinking it key to protect certain possessions.

"However, in the past, their only options were full-blown cover, or nothing. And when they did buy insurance, they were annoyed by things like penalty fees, which we have abolished."

Back Me Up research has concluded currently five million (35%) of 18-34s have no home contents cover and 2.3 million (18% of those travelling overseas) go abroad without travel insurance, highlighting the massive market potential for flexible, affordable and relevant cover.

The Back Me Up research also revealed that mobile phones are young people's most valued possession, yet almost half of them (48%) admit their phone isn't insured. With an average replacement cost of £445, Back Me Up estimates this equates to a combined cost of £3.1bn.

Laptops and computers are the second most valued belonging but, again, almost half (44%) are uninsured. A specific item of clothing completes the top three, 63% of which are uninsured.

Lynes added that it created a Millennial Panel to help test, develop and design its offering, of which a core group of three remain today, to be joined by others as and when needed.

The panel has also shot some videos to explain the offering and Back Me Up will be using social media to market the brand, which was developed with support from Saatchi & Saatchi. Ageas is not divulging the investment spend on the launch.

A business-to-consumer venture, there is no plans to add it to any aggregators presently. When asked whether a Back Me Up motor product was in the offing, Lynes commented: "We do have plans to expand the offering as we are in this for the long haul, but as to what those different things might be, it is too early to say. But we will continue to engage with this [millennial] community and evolve the offering as they see necessary."

The millennial insurance space is currently touted as one of the potential growth sectors for insurance and as such is attracting a lot of attention, which Lynes called "exciting" because it indicated that there was "a market out there".

One of the first businesses to launch in this space was Zugar Znap, backed by insurance entrepreneur Julie Rodilosso, that earlier in the year attracted Endsleigh's digital boss Ian Harper on board. It currently offers GAP and mobile phone insurance, with other offerings slated for later in the year.

Another start-up, Wrisk, has yet to launch, but has some heavyweight backing in the form of co-founders Darius Kumana, former head of digital at Markel, and Nigel Barton, former CEO at Oxygen Insurance Brokers.

Kumana told Post earlier this year the "connected" generations, millennials and Generation Z, had been sorely neglected by the big insurers and understanding exactly what was offered under a policy was part of the problem."

Barton added: "The next generation are not going to buy a document written by William Shakespeare, where they can only buy it once a year, where they're asked irrelevant questions. It's just a grudge purchase; that isn't going to work."

Meanwhile, US tech firm Trov is gearing up to launch an app-based contents insurance offering with Axa, after succesfully launching in Australia earlier this year. Penciled in for the first half of the year, Post understands the launch is likely to happen in September now.

The Back Me Up team will be speaking at the third Digital Insurance Collective on Friday 2 September about developing a digital proposition within a large organisation. Find out what is on the agenda and how to join the discussion

 

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