Interview with VouchForMe CEO, Jacob Westerlaken - Part 2
Following our interview two weeks ago, where Jacob discussed VFM’s goals and target markets. We sat down with Jacob once more to discuss VFM’s new product, the new user-friendly website, and the challenges facing the insurance industry today.
5) When we look to the future, what are the challenges and opportunities for the insurance industry?
Jacob: Insurance is a game of numbers. The more people you have to share the risk, the easier it is to determine the right price. A challenge for the industry is changing customer demands; people want individualized products, which suit their style of driving. Customers can turn their insurance on and off whenever they want, and they expect to receive the benefits from that. The lack of continuance makes it very difficult for insurance companies to calculate the risk, and the consequences for getting it wrong can be severe for insurers. As a result, we see higher prices and refusals to insure certain risks.
Opportunities in the insurance industry include services and accurate risk assessment. This is why there’s a growth in areas such as telematics, claims services, and prevention. At VouchForMe, we believe that a key opportunity for individualization is looking at not one person, but a social network. Insurance should be there for the bigger risks, not the small ones.
6) Recently, VouchForMe has upgraded its website. What’s new? What are the critical updates?
Jacob: Over the past two years, we’ve received feedback from customers and visitors, as well as some requests. We’ve incorporated this into our website in order to improve the user experience. We want to make sure that visitors to our website, both end-users and business partners can understand what vouching is, what are the benefits and how it works. I believe the new website makes this much clearer. We’re continually looking at our website and optimizing it. Recently we’ve included our income protection product, which will be a big focus for us this year.
7) Tell us more about the new income protection product. How does it differ from VFM’s car insurance product?
Jacob: The idea developed after a conversation I had with my dentist. I told him what we do with social proof and trust among individuals, he told me about a group of dentists that agreed to cover each other in case one of them was incapacitated and unable to work for a long period, rather than paying out expensive premiums each month. From this discussion, we developed our income protection product, an alternative to insurance for a group of people working in the same profession, which can cover lost income for a period of up to two years. We decided on two years as 99% of people who take ill are back to work within that time; however, through a partnership with an insurance company, we can cover those who aren’t. Since the insurance company doesn’t payout for the first two years, the premium is reduced significantly.
It differs from our car insurance product through the group element, people vouch not one on one, but it is mutual vouching. After we developed this product, we’ve received requests to make a similar product for car insurance. The group element makes the premiums attractive while still covering the necessary insurance
8) Is there anything else that we haven’t covered that you would like to mention?
Jacob: What I like about our proposition is that we go back to the basics of insurance. We decide how we want to insure ourselves and how much we want to bring to an insurance company. We work with whom we trust and rely on in our social network; the same way insurance started in ancient Greek times.
Next week we’ll be writing about the rise of freelance working, and how it will impact insurance demands. Follow us on Medium for more.