Reinventing Insurance > Launching an Insurtech – Week 4

Week 4: Confessions of an Insurtech Pricing Guy

In the third of our five diary posts covering the buzzvault journey from November to January, we follow Paul, buzzvault’s Head of Pricing. When he’s not ratcheting up a killer spreadsheet, he enjoys watching football and playing cricket in his native Canterbury.

They said it takes a certain type of person to work for a start-up. Well, it’s certainly a very different experience from working for a corporate, I think to myself as I walk up the iron stairwell to Unit 22 of Archer Street Studios, Soho, on Monday morning.

As I boot up my machine, here’s a bit more on me. As buzzvault’s Head of Pricing, much of my role resembles what I’d be doing at an incumbent: setting prices and monitoring them over time. I also do my fair share of reporting, and this is where things start to get different. I’m not just reporting internally but externally too, as we’re entering the home insurance market with the help of several partners.

For now, it’s a weekly pricing update – and that’s what I’m on this morning. As all insurance people well know, data is key here, and in this respect we’re in an interesting place…

We already help thousands of customers with their home moves every year, via our moving platform buzzmove, which gives us unique access to people at precisely that point in life when home and contents insurance is top of mind. And the data we collect is extremely valuable and unlike what incumbents typically have at their disposal; leveraging our buzzsurvey video technology, we’re able to create detailed inventories of customers’ household possessions.

This means we know exactly what we’re insuring in people’s homes, and this unlocks countless opportunities to serve customers better. In particular, buzzvault gives customers superior peace of mind – and insurance is a peace-of-mind product after all – because they know, for a fact, that their things are covered. If it’s in their vault, then they can claim back via their smartphone.

Meanwhile, it’s a data goldmine. I’m looking forward to exploring trends in the composition of customer vaults and how these map to claims experience. But, as we only launched last month, my inner data scientist will have to wait a little longer before climbing on in with the trusty pickaxe of analysis.

When you work for an incumbent, it’s easy to take for granted the immense pre-existing volume you have at your fingertips. You have a platform in place already, so your job is essentially fine-tuning and maintenance. At buzzvault, we are building the platform! Low volume obviously leaves any book susceptible to skews, so we tread carefully – leveraging a range of tools and proxies to understand market rates. And, given our team’s huge drive and passion, I believe we’ll reach scale sooner, not later.

My week of enhancing data reports, testing potential improvements to our pricing mechanisms and dealing with ad-hoc requests for data analysis from the wider company is interrupted on Thursday by a short meeting with one of our video surveyors. These guys are on the frontline of customers using buzzvault – and thus a data source to overlook at your peril.

The best journeys always end back at the beginning – and so, as 4pm Friday chimes in our office happy hour, I find myself returning to my week’s opening thought: what type of person does it take to work for a start-up?

Well, in both worlds you need to be diligent, attentive and keyed into your customers’ needs. But, while you can work in peaks and troughs at an incumbent, it’s all peak at a start-up, with few opportunities to catch your breath. Yet, at the same time, it’s easier to take a start-up down the proverbial rabbit hole than a corporate… We’ll let you know what’s on the other side!

If you want to read the final instalment in this 5-piece diary series, click through to Week 5, where we follow buzzvault Founder and CEO Becky Downing and reflect on her experiences over the last 12 months getting buzzvault up and running.


>>> Click here for Launching an Insurtech Week 5: Base Camp on Mount Insurance

<<< Back to Launching an Insurtech Week 3: Our Insurance Goes Live

This diary piece was first published on Insurance Post. For more info on home and contents insurance, check out the buzzvault guide to contents insurance.