Mobile professional insurance specialist In My Bag has formally launched with funding from Hambro Perks and the underwriting support of ECIC.
Headed by the former head of digital at Endsleigh, Iain Harper, the insurtech start-up has teamed up with a company that numbers Apple, Uber and Tesla as clients to help back up customers' data, as well as a same-day device replacement service.
"Hambro approached me because it had been dipping its toe into the insurtech sector and had an idea - that has subsequently turned into In My Bag - which dove-tailed surreptitiously with the stuff I had been doing with Zurich and then Zugar Znaps [as an adviser]," CEO and co-founder Harper explained.
"So I took the plunge and six months down the line, we are ready to go. We have kept our foot on the gas and been very fortunate to have had a proactive underwriter. There are always challenges, including the flexibility of covering people working in shared work spaces, but to be fair to ECIC, it has been willing to work them through."
Insurance is one component of the In My Bag offering, but Harper claims it has built its service - including devolved claims authority - around the concept of 'trusting the customer'.
Position of trust
"Our aim is to turn the claims experience into something that is genuinely helpful and begins from a position of trust. There is a risk people might abuse that, but in reality very few really do, and we have systems in place to help us recognise that."
He continues: "The fundamental distrust between insurers and the customer is at the heart of so many things that are wrong with the insurance industry. So it quickly became apparent that we would have to run our own claims if we wanted to address that customer mistrust. And for a small company with no track record, that is an extremely difficult thing to convince an underwriter to do.
"But as we talked ECIC through the technology we have to support customers, it understood it was critical to our proposition, which is to help customers, and not start with an assumption they are trying to get one over on us.
"So we don't think of ourselves as an insurance company, but a members' service that helps mobile professionals who are reliant on their technology, and when something goes wrong, they can trust us it will get sorted immediately, not in two weeks."
As well as a providing a replacement/loan device within a couple of hours, Harper stressed that data loss protection is a key part of its offering, which is where its tie-up with Crash Plan comes in.
"It is not well known in the consumer space, but it does all the enterprise backup for Tesla and Space X. But we are providing its enterprise product for individuals, and it is the first time that has been done.
"And that sits on your laptop and silently backs you up in the cloud, so all being well, you never notice it until you lose a critical file, maybe because it did not sync on dropbox and you have a client presentation that afternoon."
Reflecting on his journey with Hambro Perks, an investor that is best known for supporting high growth startups like Sipsmith and Laundrapp, Harper - who was a founding member of Post's Digital Activist Board, added: "Every day I have been walking into the office and they been asking ‘Why haven't you launched yet? Why are you being so slow?' But I have sanity checked it with our partners and launching a regulated business [In My Bag will begin life as an appointed representative of ECIC] from zero to market in six months isn't bad going.
Insurtech opportunities for smaller insurers
"I am pleased with the speed in which we have done this, because the sooner you can get to market, the sooner you can find out whether customers will buy into it or not."
Harper is also convinced that the burgeoning insurtech sector offers opportunities for "smaller, forward thinking underwriters" like ECIC to prosper if they are "not put off by small teams" [In My Bag numbers four] that want to "move fast and work in ways that big insurers don't traditionally do".
He concludes: "We had a number of discussions [with underwriters], but it quickly became apparent that ECIC had bought into this in a way that many hadn't. Others seemed to be playing lip service to the concept and we were worried nothing might happen for six or nine months. Very early on, we connected the CEO of ECIC and it became apparent it has a small management team who were looking to diversify, so there was a neat fit between our mutual aims."
Delighted to have @Amandas_Shoes as new Chair of ABI. Perfect choice to take the ABI forward over the next couple of years and fantastic to have a woman in role for first time. Thanks to Andy Briggs for all his hard work – you leave us in a stronger position than ever https://t.co/NTpA3kWAoz— Huw Evans (@huwevans71) June 7, 2018