“Digital has made it possible to sell over 1000 policies a day, with just two bums in two remote seats,” says Travys Wilkins, executive director of Surestart, a South African insurtech startup that enables and distributes insurance products.
“Covid-19 has rapidly ramped up the success of e-commerce businesses with whom we partner,” he explains. “In fact, we’ve seen a 400% increase in sales throughout lockdown. There’s been a marked shift in consumer demand and buying behaviour. Where insurance was traditionally sold face-to-face via brokers, social distancing meant that customers had to get comfortable buying insurance via digital channels.”
Regulations in the insurance industry, especially in the intermediary space are so stringent, there is little margin available after costly overheads and operational expenses. Surestart re-imagined insurance delivery and consequently partners with e-commerce businesses that can offer insurance as an additional revenue stream. Says Wilkins, “We design products to enhance their platform.”
Partners add value to their offerings using Surestart to automate the sales and administration process. There’s minimal human intervention which ensures low operational costs and Surestart enables full compliance with all applicable legislation. The e-commerce business does not need to become a financial services provider and risk is shared with insurance partners.
Examples include SweepSouth which has included two Surestart offerings. A very popular addition for SweepSouth’s home cleaning service, is optional add-on cover for damage, theft or fire. This check box option is offered to clients on check out.
It also added domestic insurance to the SweepSouth platform. Forward-thinking employers want to ensure that their own domestic workers have insurance and from R20 a month, employers can provide death, disability and critical illness benefits. This offering served SweepSouth well when they were unable to provide their usual services during the hard lockdown.
“Through our partnership with Surestart, we have been able to add offerings to both new and existing products. This has provided a better experience to our existing users while also enabling us to increase our reach to new users,” says, Dean Hopf, head of Marketing at SweepSouth.
Pargo, is a logistics company that enables consumers, companies and couriers to send and receive parcels at pickup points at retail stores across Southern Africa. Pargo partnered with TPI, an underwriting manager to create a custom-designed goods in transit policy that reduced costs on Pargo’s commercial policy. SureStart is the authorised FSP for the goods in transit policy for Pargo and assists in the administration and claims process. This embedded cover is included in the fees that clients pay so that all parcels are covered.
Surestart is positioned to tackle the problems traditionally experienced in the insurance industry by using tech to allow a client to self-onboard instead of being sold to. Because it’s a primarily tech offering, it reduces cost, manual errors and time delays and provides complete transparency at the same time increasing the accessibility of products. Surestart’s business model is to share revenue with its partners.
However, Wilkins believes that the ‘new insurance normal’ is likely to be a hybrid model, with outbound staff complemented by digital channels. Covid-19 hasn’t been all rosy however, the business saw losses in its travel and entertainment sectors which underlined how important diversification of revenue streams is.