‘The Inspire Insurtech Interview’ series are interviews to inspire your fellow insurtechs. We’d like to share who you are, what you do, what we can expect from you in the future. This month we are talking to Blair Nicholls from Blue Zebra Insurance – bzi.com.au
Tell us Blue Zebra’s brief pitch
We are an underwriting agency that is a different breed in insurance. We’ve delivered an insurance platform using modern technology, we leverage external data sources to deliver quotes efficiently & understand the underlying risk better and introduced insurance product innovation to brokers. Our product innovation and modern platform is helping brokers to grow their businesses and service their customers better.
So how did Blue Zebra begin?
We saw a big gap in the market to support brokers to efficiently deliver much needed advice to their customers. Most of the main insurers either have a direct to market strategy or a strategy that contains heavy distribution channel conflict and brokers felt they had limited options for long-term partners. Based on research and the collective experience of the founders, we knew there was an opportunity to deliver something different in the market. We started building our technology in late 2017 and by May 2018 we had written our first insurance policy.
How has Blue Zebra evolved since inception?
For the first 9 months we didn’t really do any active marketing, we just built something that was well received by our customers and word of mouth did the rest. Since we launched, we’ve taken on board feedback and upgraded our platform more than 40 times in 14 months. Our ‘pilot’ started in May 2018 with 5 brokers with just Home insurance. 2 months later we delivered Motor insurance and by that time we had around 30 brokerages working with us. Then in November 2018 we released Landlord to our 100 broker partners. In February 2019 we started offering instalments billing and since that time we’ve started to deliver renewals and we now have our SME product that will launch before the end of the year. Today we have more than 300 brokerages from every cluster group working with us. We consistently have more than 1,000 users on our system every day and more than 3,000 brokers have bound business with us. The consistent enhancements to the platform are one of the things that keep people coming back. In simple terms, if our customers want something we deliver it.
What is your team currently working on? Any accomplishments you’d like to tell us about?
The SME product will really shake up the market. We’ve listened to brokers about how to deliver a great user experience and we’ve built something that we know will be well received. The behind the scenes data integrations mean that the quote flow and understanding of the risk is fantastic. From a claims perspective we were delighted to see that we recently received an 87% home insurance claims satisfaction rating by our customers, which was 20% above the average of the top six insurers. We’ve had a fantastic partnership with Insurx, our claims management TPA (part of Claim Central), to deliver this result. Insurx really focus on providing a connected claim experience to our customers, which is completely aligned to our methodologies – and the results speak for themselves. It’s amazing what can be achieved when like-minded businesses combine forces like this.
How does Blue Zebra ‘give back’?
Our product innovation is something that is giving something different back to the Broker market. For Home, for example, there is the option to add a Home Business Extension to an Accidental Damage policy. For motor, we have a comprehensive plus product that is targeted mainly at new vehicles, but it has some great benefits included. For Landlord, we have an Essentials product that is a Landlord cover targeted at landlords of apartments designed to support brokers, for example, to partner with significant distribution sources to sell an easy to use product.
What is Blue Zebra’s biggest challenge in today’s markets?
Our ambition is to grow to a $1bn business with around 20 staff. To do that we need a) great technology; b) great people; and c) strong support from brokers. For the technology, getting the priorities right has always been a focus to deliver so much so quickly. For the people, we’ve been very selective about who we’ve brought into the team and this has meant that the people on board have had to really work hard, get their hands dirty and help build the business from the ground up. In the end, it means we all understand the business intimately and can respond to our brokers in real time …. but it hasn’t been easy to find the right people that can work in such a fast-paced environment. As we’ve grown, our strongest supporters have been those brokers that have really helped us experiment and roll out our products. We are moving at pace and that means we start with a minimum viable product, which is often quite skinny, but we are able to respond and make corrective action quickly. The best brokers are those that are here to co-create something special and enduring.
Have you partnered with any other businesses to improve the BZI offering?
Our partnership with Insurx, our claims management TPA part of Claim Central Consolidated, has been instrumental in satisfying our customers. Insurx has an incredible claims management platform that manages claims from end to end, and is streets ahead of any other product on the market. But more importantly when you combine that technology with the mindset and culture of putting the customer first and connecting them to their claim through more visibility and better communication, you really have a winning formula. Insurx have a similar approach to building and deploying technology to our team at Blue Zebra. We’ve been impressed by how they have worked closely with us to move our arrangements (technology, commercial agreements, service team) from a ‘start-up’ to a ‘scaling’ business to better support us maturing as a business. Since partnering with Insurx, the feedback from both brokers and customers on their claim experience has been phenomenal and it’s this sort of partnership that opens your eyes to the exciting possibilities when you partner up with like-minded businesses.