Claret Capital Partners portfolio company, Wefox, is the largest AI-driven digital insurance provider in Europe with over 600 employees and thousands of consultants.
We spoke with Julian on what’s happening behind the scenes of Wefox’s innovation and the challenges of running a business during a pandemic..
Where did the idea behind your business come from?
The idea for Wefox came from an afternoon, sitting around a kitchen table with Dario Fazlic. We were talking about how exasperating it was to buy insurance. As we talked about it and shared our experiences we realised there was an opportunity to not only build a business but to do some good.
Insurance is at first sight boring, complicated and one of those purchases we make out of the fear of something bad happening. But insurance itself is actually a really beautiful thing. It was first created to help people if something went wrong. That’s where we started. By using technology to make insurance simple and keep people safe.
What was the mission when you launched? And has it changed today?
Our mission was simple and it remains today as it was in 2015 – we want to keep people safe and aim to prevent 30% of all preventable risk in the world some day. We will do that by reinventing insurance and deploying technology at scale.
Who is your customer/audience?
We have a broad customer base, but our core customers are broadly in two categories: insurance advisors on one hand and the customer buying our policies. The latter group tends to be aged between 25-40.
What (do you think) is your competitive advantage?
Our competitive advantage is our ability to focus on achieving our purpose – to keep people safe – at scale and pace. Through our reinvention and digital transformation of insurance, we use technology and data for good. Our artificial intelligence customises insurance policies for our advisors and customers. Over time, we intend to develop a lot more contextual data about our customers. And we are transparent with our customers so they know what data we have and how we intend to use it. Going forward, we intend to empower our customers with their data by giving it to them so that they own it because we believe that data is a fundamental human right.
At Wefox, we will use customer data to predict risk and help customers prevent those risks. Customer data is used to ensure our customers have the right insurance products for their needs, to keep themselves, their loved one and the things that they cherish protected. And when something bad happens, we stand beside our customers to provide support quickly, through both money and services.
We use technology to change how our advisors work. With us they have a fully digital set up which means they can help our customers remotely, keeping everyone safe during the current pandemic.
We have a higher automation rate than traditional insurers. This means that 90% of our customer interactions are fully automated with just 10% on average requiring additional support from a human.
Covid-19 has affected the world.. How did your company adapt?
The pandemic has proven to be extraordinary for every business the world over. We have pursued our simple aim – keep people safe and aim to prevent 30% of all preventable risk in the world in the future.
We applied that to both our customers and our colleagues. In-house we put in place a number of Mental Health First Aiders and professionals to support anyone who was finding the conditions difficult. We also encouraged everyone to collaborate, to work together and to be there for each other even though we were all remote. And actually it has been really special. For instance, I had a number of colleagues dial in to my kitchen and we had lunch together. Using that time to talk, to get to know each other, to work together and support one another.
For our customers, we have kept our service levels high because we are all digital natives now – our people and brokers are digitally enabled and we are all now getting used to working remotely. We have been able to provide new policies in moments because our underwriting process is automated; and all claims are paid quickly which means we can wrap our arms around our customers to provide additional support and services if required.
The area where we witnessed an improvement was in our loss ratio, which helped our profits, was in motor insurance because there were fewer cars on the roads last year, which meant fewer claims. Health insurance sales went up (by 90%), which was mainly because of our new sales channel in Switzerland (indirect).
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned in the process of growing your business?
The biggest lessons we have learned as we have grown our business is to focus on people, profitability and measurable growth.
Do you think the culture of your business has helped in the growth of your business? If so, how have you fostered a success-driven culture?
Our culture has without doubt supported the growth of Wefox. Our guiding principles shape every aspect of Wefox and help us create a unique culture. We make things possible, we keep focused, we communicate clearly, we are team players and we are authentic.
What are you most excited about in the future of your business? What can you tell us about your next goals you want to achieve?
Wefox is on target to double revenues again this year. And we expect to be the first digital insurance company to be profitable. That’s exciting. We are confident about achieving those goals because of our very clear and simple purpose – to keep people safe.
We’re also focussing on building our technology to become a service platform in which it understands all aspects of your life and begins to predict risks before it happens. We know that this will be the big game-changer and we have already started building our capabilities to make this possible by setting up a new AI and Innovation unit in Paris to work exclusively on this technology.
And lastly, any advice you want to share to growth companies on how they finance their business?
Start with a clear purpose in mind and a defined problem that needs to be solved for a significantly sizeable market. When these are fully aligned, you’re now building more than just a company and this will be evident when you’re speaking to VCs.
Obviously, it’s really important to build a talented team that pulls in the same direction, and above all, it’s incredibly important to have a great company culture. This is the energy that will give fuel to your enterprise. And lastly, never give up. It’s a long and sometimes lonely journey as an entrepreneur, so you’ve got to be patient, really persistent and never lose sight of the big picture.