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.
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.