April 28, 2016
A Word With Shefi: Inoma at WeSavvy
"The current industry model has to shift from one that penalizes to one that rewards the customers for positive behaviors."
This is part of a series of interviews by Shefi Ben Hutta with insurance practitioners who bring an interesting perspective to their work and to the industry as a whole. Here, she speaks with Hesus Inoma at WeSavvy.
Describe WeSavvy in 50 words or fewer:
WeSavvy is a digital insurance platform that gives customers cash back on their insurance premiums when they walk, run or cycle. WeSavvy’s mission is to give back customers control over their insurance premiums.
We believe the current insurance model is broken. We need to shift the current model from one of indemnification (payout in the event of a claim) to one of loss prevention and control. This can only be achieved by changing the current industry model from one that penalizes to one that rewards the customers for positive behaviors. If we take the healthcare industry in the U.S. as an example, between 2010 and 2015 premiums have increased by more than 26%, leaving customers completely powerless and at the mercy of year-on-year increases. WeSavvy showcases a better way to transform the healthcare insurance industry, by giving the customer full control of healthcare expenses.
How did you decide to pursue the idea of WeSavvy?
I’m passionate about the digitalization of insurance, yet WeSavvy is personal to me. Back in 2012, I was overweight, and my 2013 New Year’s resolution was to lose weight. I unleashed the power of my community to support me through my journey, and I successfully lost weight throughout 2013 and became very healthy. However, my health insurance premiums went up in 2014, and there was no way for me to effectively communicate my personal journey to my insurer. That’s when I decided, in late 2014, to quit my job and build WeSavvy, a platform that grants the insurer the ability to personalize quotes and empower policyholders to gain back control over insurance premiums.
What’s in a name?
I wanted a name that reflects our core beliefs that “We” as a community [friends, family, network] can leverage technology and be “Savvy” tackling the obstacles placed in front of us in relation to insurance.
Describe your typical client:
In everything we do at WeSavvy, we keep the policyholder [our end customer] in mind. Our current business model is B2B2C [business to business to consumer], where we leverage current networks present within the insurance industry to reach the policyholder. Our clients are insurers and agents looking to meet the expectations of the next generation of customers, whether millennials or digital natives.
What does competition look like?
We’re often compared to Vitality. The difference between WeSavvy and Vitality is the tangibility of our rewards mechanism. We want to ensure customers receive tangible rewards, which increases their disposable income. Vitality’s main focus is the insurer, and [Vitality has] partnered exclusively with one insurer in every new market it has entered. What happens to the other insurers and agents? Our focus is to service the market as a whole and all participants of that market. Our technology will be available to every insurer or agency that would like to better serve its customers. We will leave our user experience for another day!
You took part in the Deloitte Digital Disruptor; what did you learn?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned was that the industry wants to embrace innovation, but, at times, the internal infrastructure and culture is not there to move at a pace of a start-up. Insurers that create the internal infrastructure and culture to move at the required pace will be the ones that reap the biggest rewards.
You’re currently taking part in the Global Insurance Accelerator; lesson learned?
We’ve perceive the main insurance hubs as being London and New York, and it turns out that Des Moines is a hidden gem for our market. The concentration of insurance companies in Des Moines is mind-blowing. Des Moines is truly “Kicking ass, taking names and selling insurance” [to quote the city’s slogan]. I’d advise any insurance company that is thinking of setting up an innovation lab or is looking to work with start-ups to reach out to Brian Hemesath and see what he has created here. The conditions for a start-up to succeed are truly embedded in this 100-day program.
Where do you see WeSavvy in five years?
WeSavvy will be the catalyst in transforming how the insurance industry is perceived. Insurance is an awesome product, but it has failed to communicate its true value to the customer. Insurance is one of the best mechanisms of risk transfer, and it forms the bedrock of every developed society. I see WeSavvy growing from strength to strength, year on year, and moving into other insurance products, which have failed to engage and resonate with the customers. We have no exit strategy, for the simple reason that, if I exited from WeSavvy, my next venture would still be in insurance; and I love what WeSavvy as a company stands for: personal and social empowerment. You never know, we might IPO one day!
Best life lesson:
“Your Health is your wealth” is one of my best lessons as it taught me [after my mother passed away for cancer] that if there’s anything we could do to extend our time with our loved ones in this life, we should do it!