The demand for ethical and responsible financial products isn’t just limited to investments – people are also seeking banking and insurance products that have an ethical or responsible component. Car, home and travel insurer Huddle Insurance is seeking to take advantage of that demand with its app-based offerings.
Co-founder Jason Wilby says that he and his co-founders come to insurance from backgrounds in management consulting, and were motivated to create a product that provides a trust-worthy service.
“We have a background in management consulting, and we all worked /w big brands in Australia, but what we saw was an underlying issue with financial services in general and insurance in particular around trust,” Jason says. “In insurance, there’s a longstanding issue where they were selling a promise to customers, and these trust issues in the market are as a result of mis-selling and the general feeling that customers have that an insurer’s intent doesn’t align with their own.”
Huddle aims to provide a service that has good intent and good reliability.
“Why does somebody choose to trust a brand or person,” Jason asks. “This is the idea of intent – do I believe your intent aligns to my activities? We all trust a nurse because they’re not in it for the money ad they want to help people. The other issue is reliability – going back to our example of a nurse – you hope that they’re good at what they do and sew up wounds in a way that don’t cause infection.
“We’re focused on two problems – the idea of intent – how can we build a business model with an intent that aligns with something different from ourselves, and the idea of reliability – we’re getting claims paid but in a way that a customer needs, when they need it and where they need it.”
Huddle provides a service called With Instant Claims, whereby Huddle customers can get money in their account, replacement items, or even hire cars, “instantly”, according to their website. Claims are registered via the Huddle app, and payouts are made directly into accounts, Jason says.
Huddle is a tech-driven company, with chatbots and other IT-driven features to verify claims. This allows the company to keep costs down, Jason says.
“We don’t describe ourselves as a price leader, but we are competitive compared to the competitive brands ,because of the way we automate,” Jason says. “There are two big things that enable us to save – first is our ability to get fraud out of the system. It’s really costly. Instant claims and digital fulfilment takes fraud out of the system. The other way is just the cost to handle the claims. A lot of the claims cost more to process by humans than to settle. A big focus for us is reducing the overall costs out and getting the fraud out. We’re cheaper than the top tier brands, without having to dial down on coverage.”
Jason describes how customers use the app to lodge a claim.
“The key thing in terms of lodging online is use of video and photographs during the claims experience,” he says. “Whereas someone would have to fill out a paper form with a manual process previously, Huddle customers take a photo of the broken laptop they’ve insured or the boarding pass for the cancelled flight. Tech verifies that, so for example, with a boarding pass , we extract the information, verify with the airline, and check out information about the user and the policy. If it’s ok, it goes ahead and makes the payment.”
Huddle Insurance has attracted a wide demographic as customers, Jason says.
“At Huddle, we thought we’d be skewed to people aged 25-35,” he says. “We’ve got a strong customer base there, but we have a really strong customer group in the 55-75 segment –lots of travellers who are going on world expeditions, and general car and home insurers as well.”
Huddle also highlights the ethical nature of its operations and is a verified B Corporation. They classify their activities as having “passion for oceans and fields, for people and communities,” according to its website.
“We wanted to be a B Corp before we invented Huddle, really,” Jason says. “It was a bit like finding our tribe- we were all coming out of different careers and running different businesses. We really wanted to make a measured, positive impact through the work we’re doing, and when we found out about the B-Corp movement and a school of thought that said profit isn’t bad, but everyone makes a impact as to whether it’s positive, negative or neutral. It’s about tapping into a powerful community that could support us on our quest to create a positive impact. There’s a framework and level of accountability to hold ourselves to account and help us manage our business, really.”
Huddle has donated “tens of thousands of dollars” to projects affiliated with its four categories, and plans to increase those donations this year, Jason adds.