This interview was landed by Mo Aldalou, our Entrepreneur Engagement Manager for the North West. If you’d like your business be profiled, get in touch.
Taking out home insurance can be a long and laborious process. According to Manchester-based Uinsure, on average, insurance and price comparison websites currently ask 54 “difficult” questions before presenting the customer with a quote. The process is further complicated as these quotes offer different levels of cover, leading to a risk of customers not being adequately insured.
Uinsure has been on a mission to correct this since 2007. The company describes itself as the “leading provider” of home insurance having provided £74bn worth of buildings insurance to almost 250,000 customers. But what makes it better than its competition?
“Our technology, data capabilities and easy application programming interface (or API),” responds the company’s Chief Innovation Officer David Smith, who in a blog post has previously described the process of buying home insurance “beyond insane“. “That’s how we remove the complexity from the home insurance buying process.”
Uinsure has built an insurtech platform called Zero GI that lets general insurance (GI) companies and mortgage brokers retrieve quotes in less than 10 seconds for homeowners. Instead of effectively cross-examining the homeowner with over 54 questions like other providers, Zero GI simplifies the process by only asking for their title, name, date of birth and postcode.
From this information, Uinsure can search existing databases to pre-populate fields such as the number of bedrooms or flood risk (for example) with data that can be automatically retrieved from sources such as The Land Registry, a government department. With many basic questions instantly answered, GI providers and mortgage brokers can focus on spending any remaining time with the customer to tailor quotes to their needs.
The more data sources that Zero GI taps into, the more useful it is for Uinsure’s insurance partners. As such, the company plugs its platform into so-called “big data” datasets (huge sources of data that can be interrogated to reveal valuable insight) using its own unique open API.
Homeowners are often required to take out general insurance alongside a mortgage. Smith says that the company’s lightbulb moment came when it saw an opportunity to offer customers home insurance and mortgage advice at the same time.
“Feedback from mortgage advisers was that the process of taking out general insurance alongside a mortgage was long-winded and complicated and Uinsure saw an opportunity to make this quicker and easier to free up time to advise,” he says. “By automating the sales process, advisers no longer have to spend time collecting data.”
Smith says that Uinsure, which was self-funded until 2018 when it raised an eight-figure investment to accelerate its growth, is on track to produce a home insurance quote for every mortgage application (which currently stands at 1.2 million per annum) that its broker partners process.
It has doubled in size in the last eight months and projects £5m profit by the end of 2019. Smith is buoyant that Uinsure is located in the best place and is being taken forward by the right people needed to succeed.
“We’re based in Manchester, which is a very exciting city and a great hub for technology innovation,” says Smith. “Simon Taylor, our founder and CEO, is a successful financial services entrepreneur who leads the team. Our CFO James Fawcett is a relative newcomer to financial services but brings with him a diverse skill-set gained from a range of relevant industries.
“And finally, our non-executive chairman John Cowan has spent his entire career in financial services, which equates to over 40 years of experience.”
By making the most of new tech and keeping the customer in mind, Uinsure is set to continue removing one of the many frustrations that counter the joy of buying a new home for some time to come.
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