Most insurers continue to hold strong ties with intermediaries. However, the prospect of improved margins and greater opportunities to cross-sell and upsell products to customers will foster insurers’ interest in the direct channel. Insurers that do not invest in a direct-to-customer (D2C) strategy risk falling behind the competition. The risk is higher for the more commoditised personal lines than for commercial or life insurance products.

Listed below are the top private companies impacted by D2C in insurance, as identified by GlobalData.

DeadHappy – UK

DeadHappy is bringing innovation to the life insurance segment with its unique branding and communication. DeadHappy’s creativity is apparent in its website design, which features skulls and casual language.

DeadHappy has developed flexible and on-demand life and health insurance products. Its distinctively marketed “deathwishes” encompass several products, designed for customers to choose exactly where their payout should go once they pass away. Options include no-frills “pay for my funeral”’ to uniquely-named products such as “fund my wake party,” “build a bronze statue of myself,” or “send someone on a shopping spree” to help family members and friends deal with grief.

Lemonade – US

Lemonade was founded in New York in 2015, and has grown strongly to become one of the world’s leading insurtechs. Lemonade’s platform offers home insurance and renters’ policies for apartments, condos, co-ops, and homes. It offers Maya and Jim, two AI-powered chatbots. Maya helps deliver insurance policies, while Jim handles claims. The company provides policy terms and conditions using simple, non-legal language.

Lemonade has also promoted transparency in the premiums it charges. The D2C insurance firm takes a flat fee but lets customers gift unused premiums to causes such as charities. Lemonade is set to expand in Europe. In 2018 the company was granted an insurance license in the Netherlands that will allow it to operate across 28 European countries.

Oscar – US

Oscar is headquartered in New York but also operates in New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, Tennessee, and California. Oscar is an online health insurance company providing cover for individuals and businesses. Focusing on patient-centricity, the firm promises to make health insurance easy for its customers.

Oscar’s coverage includes telemedicine and routine care services. The D2C company’s plans cover certain products free of charge, including generic drugs, immunisations, and lab tests. It focuses on personalised plans and transparent pricing.

The company has developed a user-friendly app that allows users to view and manage their care online, order prescriptions, talk to a doctor, and track deductibles.

Zhong An – China

Zhong An was founded in 2013 as China’s first truly digital D2C insurer. It sells insurance online and allows customers to manage their policies digitally. All claims are handled online. It was the first company in China to be granted an internet insurance license.

The company was established by internet service provider Alibaba and insurance company Ping An. Since its inception, Zhong An has focused on customer-centricity and has seen unprecedented growth. Today, Zhong An commercialises over 200 products, some of which target market niches, including cover against specific illnesses such as diabetes that are generally not covered in standard policies.

This is an edited extract from the Direct to Customer in Insurance – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.

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