It’s like 1999 all over again. A new Internet start-up is hoping to shake up SA’s staid life insurance industry with a new product that aims to take the inefficiency — and the grudge — out of buying insurance.
The company, Instant Life, has developed a fully automated online buying process and administration system that does away with the need for consumers to speak to consultants or work through insurance brokers.
Unlike 1999, however, CEO Jan Kotzé (pictured) believes the market is finally ready for an online product like this.
He says SA consumers can take out life insurance without having to speak to a consultant or fill out complex forms. In the process, he says Instant Life is able to cut premiums by up to 50%.
The company has partnered with Hannover Life Re, the world’s second largest reinsurer of individual life products.
Its website went live in August, but was only launched officially this week. Kotze says Instant Life has used the past three months to refine the underwriting process, which consists of a series of questions delivered via a Flash-based interface.
“We have automated the underwriting process,” says Kotzé. “There’s no need to deal with brokers.”
He says it will be difficult for the big life insurance companies to follow suit with online, self-service products of their own as they are closely tied up with the broking industry.
Brokers stand to lose the most from a shift in selling financial services products like insurance directly over the Web. But Kotzé believes that shift is inevitable.
Instant Life, which is majority-owned by funding partner Venture Capital Works, offers life cover, disability insurance, cover for dread disease and accidental death. It also has a funeral plan and a niche cancer insurance product. Life cover is worth up to R6m.
Kotzé says Instant Life hopes to capture 10% of the individual life market within three years. That would equate to signing up about 4 000 new policies a month. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral