Best's Insurance News & Analysis - May 10, 2019 10:51 AM

UK Digital Start-Up Urban Jungle Raises Funds to Target ‘Generation Rent’

LONDON - With an eye on what it regards as an important demographic group, U.K. digital insurance start-up Urban Jungle has raised £2.5 million (US$3.26 million) in seed funding to target “Generation Rent.”

“We’ve always been hyper-focused on renters, and our new contents cover has been designed 100% with renters in mind,” Jimmy Williams, Urban Jungle’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “We think this will help us bring lots of people into insurance who have not used it before.”

Policies, Urban Jungle said, will be aimed at the concerns of tenants: contents, liability and the gadgets young people tend to acquire. Urban Jungle, which pledged to consult closely with its “community of customers” and make full use of social media, said it will continue to add products.

Urban Jungle said its investors include Rob Devey, former CEO of Prudential UK, and Simon Rogerson, CEO of Octopus Group, the U.K.-based financial services and energy group. Urban Jungle, which claims more than 15,000 customers, said it is seeking to integrate its offerings with other financial technology products.

Over the longer term, Urban Jungle said it “intends to stay with its customers as they grow and experience new life-stages — many of which will happen while they’re still renting — this means expanding their insurance product offering further.”

Urban Jungle said much of its approach is based on research, which indicates 77% of renters in the United Kingdom do not have contents insurance. Of those who don’t buy the cover, the company said, 30% cited the cost.

The company said its “entry level” policy, which is underwritten by Munich Re subsidiary Ergo UK, can be purchased for £5 a month, “with lots of options to upgrade.”

Policies will be obtainable in less than five minutes online, with documents being sent instantly to customers by email, Urban Jungle said. One segment will be people who share accommodations.

In an effort to make policies easier to understand, Urban Jungle said it has worked with insurers to eliminate “many of the legacy home-owner questions” that now face renters on policy forms. Underwriting, Urban Jungle said, will be done by “household name insurers.” Policy cancellations will be both free and easy to obtain, the company said.

Urban Jungle said its founders were drawn from both within and outside the insurance sector. “We saw that insurance was a slow-moving industry where technology was not being used enough, and customers were too often forgotten, especially younger ones.”

Urban Jungle said it began offering these policies in February.

Organizations as Lloyd’s and Aviva have set up free-wheeling units to nurture new ways of thinking and insurtechs. Lloyd’s has described its Lloyd’s Lab, in its headquarters on Lime Street in London, as “a fast-track, experimental environment where new concepts, ideas and products can be tested with the support and active involvement of the world’s specialist insurance marketplace.”

In announcing a partnership with U.K.-based Ripe Insurance to provide technology-based products to the sports and leisure market, Phil Bayles, managing director intermediaries at Aviva, stressed the importance of developing new ways to reach customers.

“We are recognized as an innovative insurer,” Bayles told Best’s News Service, “And we’re keen to work with technology-leading companies like Ripe to access new parts of the market” (Best’s News Service, April 3, 2019).

(By Robert O’Connor, London editor: Robert.OConnor@ambest.com)

BN-NJ-5-10-2019 1051 ET #

Related News: Insurtech, UNITED KINGDOM


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