The Future of Insurance Podcast – Phil Zeidler

Co-Founder & CEO, DeadHappy

Season 2, Episode 4, November 23, 2021

Guest Bio

DeadHappy is on a mission to change attitudes to death and make a difference to the third sector. It’s the first fully digital pay-as-you-go life insurance provider, their plans are designed to be cheaper, easier and better than traditional providers. 

It also provides its customers with the unique opportunity to leave their charitable legacy, as with every plan the customer gets to select a charity they want to receive a £5,000 legacy payout as a free gift. 

Its ‘deathwishes’ also help customers personalise their life insurance by expressing what they want to happen when they die – from paying off their mortgage to funding a wake party in Ibiza for their friends. Phil has a long track record in start ups having built three business’ in the insurance sector, the last of them becoming the largest white label supplier of generalInsurance in the UK.

He went on to invest (and Chair) a number of business’ including iGO4 Ltd, one of the largest Telematics insurance brokers, and worked with a range of Private Equity Houses in their insurtech investments including Simply Business, the SME insurance broking business. Phil stepped back into the front line setting up DeadHappy to take on Life insurance with the aim of completely changing the customer experience and purpose of the product.

Highlights from the Show

      • DeadHappy offers term life insurance in the UK
      • Phil Zeidler is a general insurance (P&C) veteran, but has not been in the Life insurance space
      • In 2005, Phil suddenly had a close call where he nearly died from septic shock from an infection, which caused him to stop and think about what he had to protect his family
      • He surprisingly found he couldn’t make any changes to his coverage when he realized he needed, leaving him with a desire to change things
      • His co-founder, Andy, had a similar experience where he could not get coverage, and a branding and digital marketing background, so the two came together to change things
      • Andy was also taken by how awful and morbid it is to buy life insurance, and that didn’t sit well with them
      • Phil and Andy are Yin and Yang to each other, speaking to the point in The Future of Insurance Volume IIaround diversifying your thinking to succeed
      • While the brand is clever and cheeky, the way they’re engaging prospects and customers it the differentiation
      • Phil talked about the huge coverage gap – over 8m in the UK and 42m people in the US with dependents and no life insurance – and how if you don’t engage and educate them, you aren’t really solving the problem and relegated to just selling to those who are already buying
      • Their focus is on those who need, but don’t have coverage
      • Phil shared a stat that, every day, 112 children in the UK lose a parent, and for 50% of them, there would be no protection in place
      • Life Insurance is a very simple concept in Phil’s eyes, where you pay a fixed amount, and the insurer pays out a fixed amount on death, so why do we complicate the sale with advisors and medical evaluations? DeadHappy instead sells direct, online, with just four questions and no medical questions or tests
      • DeadHappy looks at your current age, not the projected age when they think you will die, and underwrite off that, which inherently means they’re cheaper
      • They also allow you to change your policy specifics
      • I questioned how they can do that if these are things that drive the mortality calculations and investment decisions that underpin the economics of Life insurance, and he said it’s more about system flexibility than the economics only working one way
      • Phil noted how Life insurers generally try not to engage with customers once the policy is sold out of fear that people will cancel
      • DeadHappy takes the opposite view, and engages throughout the customer’s life to learn more and take that into account with their underwriting decisions
      • The data advantage this offers DeadHappy can excite reinsurer partners in a way that others aren’t able to do
      • DeadHappy uses the concept of Death Wishes to size coverage rather than asking people how much money they want their family to get when they die
        • Death Wishes are discrete things or experiences an individual wants to make happen or provide on the event of their death
        • Phil shared some examples, like sending a bouquets of flowers to your spouse every year, buying new soccer cleats for your kid every year so they can keep pursuing their passion, sending your buddies on a trip to Vegas, etc
        • This allows mechanism to engage with the idea of life insurance each year to see if the Death Wishes they chose are still relevant, or if new ones have emerged, and allowing people to change Death Wishes, which inherently changes their coverage
      • They’ve found a way to create an emotional engagement with Life insurance, which isn’t something that’s typically happened
      • I asked Phil about the idea of a telematics-like approach to Life insurance, reacting to people’s choices throughout their day with lower or higher premium, he sees that possibly taking hold down the road, but it would take so much more flexibility in the models from all insurers to make this the norm
      • DeadHappy only offers a Term Life product, and I asked whether the simplicity of it is a pre-requisite to spread cover over the uninsured, and he currently does see that as a prerequisite, at least for now
      • We talked about mental health and suicide being excluded from many products, and DeadHappy makes it optional and changeable, where you can opt into covering suicide or not, giving customers the power and the choice
      • Looking to the future, pricing will certainly change, as will the dynamics behind it
      • As a result of how they engage with customers, their NPS is 85 and their TrustPilot reviews are 4.9, both outstanding for insurance or any industry
      • As Phil says, life is too short to be morbid about death

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