Life in­sur­ance that makes you feel good

Atholl and Philip Tom­lin­son iden­ti­fied a dual op­por­tu­nity to fill the tech­nol­ogy gap in the life in­sur­ance in­dus­try, and make a dif­fer­ence in South African so­ci­ety with their for-profit and non-profit busi­ness model.

Finweek English Edition - - IN BRIEF - BY LAMEEZ OMAR­JEE ed­i­to­rial@finweek.co.za

Busi­ness and phi­lan­thropy can co-ex­ist. Broth­ers Atholl and Philip Tom­lin­son, co-founders of in­ter­net-based life in­sur­ance com­pany Dif­fer­ent Life, have in­cor­po­rated this dual busi­ness model.

Dif­fer­ent Life is the “busi­ness en­gine” t hat sus­tains t heir on­line crowd­fund­ing phi­lan­thropy plat­form Dif­fer­ent.org, ex­plains CEO Philip Tom­lin­son. “The non-profit side is the fo­cus. You can’t do any­thing with­out re­sources and that comes from the for­profit side,” he says.

Recog­nis­ing that NGOs can­not get enough scale to ad­dress the mag­ni­tude of so­cial prob­lems, com­bined with the tech­nol­ogy gap in the life in­sur­ance in­dus­try, they de­cided to launch a tech­nol­ogy-driven com­pany that fo­cuses on max­imis­ing im­pact over profit. “The of­fer­ing is a chance to get a top-qual­ity in­sur­ance prod­uct and at the same time have a very ma­te­rial im­pact on South Africa,” says Philip.

Dif­fer­ent Life is struc­tured along the lines of in­ter­net start-ups like What­sApp or Uber as op­posed to t ra­di­tional fi­nan­cial ser­vices busi­nesses, says Philip. It is a reg­is­tered in­ter­me­di­ary and is un­der­writ­ten by Old Mu­tual Al­ter­na­tive Risk Trans­fer Limited and rein­sured by Han­nover Re. They started sell­ing life in­sur­ance poli­cies in Novem­ber 2014 and the com­pany was of­fi­cially launched on 12 March.

Dif­fer­ent Life takes ad­van­tage of the cost-ef­fi­cien­cies of tech­nol­ogy by of­fer­ing a dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ence whereby t he cus­tomer can en­gage and buy fi­nan­cial ser­vices prod­ucts on­line, says Philip. There is also a call cen­tre with con­sul­tants who pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about the prod­uct, but not ad­vice.

The prod­uct is com­pet­i­tive with in­dus­try play­ers, says Atholl. The pric­ing is com­pet­i­tive and the process is seam­less, sim­ple and quick. “It lit­er­ally takes you 10 sec­onds to get a quote and 10 to 15 min­utes later you have your pol­icy, which no­body else can do,” he says.

LIFE IN­SUR­ANCE WITH A DIF­FER­ENCE

The Dif­fer­ent Do­na­tion is a con­cept whereby t he fi rs t pre­mium a nd sub­se­quent an­nual an­niver­sary pre­mi­ums of a pol­i­cy­holder are al­lo­cated to a project of their choice on Dif­fer­ent.org. Un­like other plat­forms which take a per­cent­age of money do­nated to a cause as com­mis­sion, Atholl ex­plains the to­tal of the pro­ceeds go to the cause.

“We think it’s a very nice model in terms of the syn­ergy of the for-profit and the non-profit, to both make a dif­fer­ence in South Africa and hope­fully be a suc­cess­ful busi­ness,” says Atholl.

Cur­rent tur­bu­lent eco­nomic times didn’t de­ter them from launch­ing the prod­uct, which in­cludes life and dis­abil­ity cover up to R10m, monthly salary pro­tec­tion up to R90000 and crit­i­cal ill­ness cover up to R5m. Ac­cord­ing to Philip t here is still op­por­tu­nity for growth. “It ’s not a luxury pur­chase. Life in­sur­ance is a ne­ces­sity, some­thing ev­ery­one should have re­gard­less of what the econ­omy looks like,” he adds.

THE NON-PROFIT SIDE IS THE FO­CUS. YOU CAN’T DO ANY­THING WITH­OUT RE­SOURCES. THE RE­SOURCES COME FROM THE FOR-PROFIT SIDE.

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