Almost all sectors and services are undergoing digitisation and we’ve witnessed this trend accelerate since the COVID-19 pandemic. Insurance industry, too, pivoted quickly and now most of its services are offered online. London-based startup Bequest aims to further shake things up in this segment by offering simplified wills and life insurance for the millennial market. It has secured a £1.7 million seed funding and is also launching its new insurance offering that was being beta tested.
The next step
The latest funding round for Bequest was led by Kuvi Capital. Clocktower Ventures and Form Ventures participated as well, and all three investors will join the startups’ board as its platform scales up. Bequest will utilise these fresh funds to further develop its product offerings and generate traction for its services. It is also partnering up with Panda’s Foundation, but exact details of this are still under wraps.
James Buckley-Thorp, CEO and founder of Bequest, says, “Currently, 38 million families are unprotected and uninsured each year. We, at Bequest, want to make sure everyone is covered by making it relatable, accessible and something that does not cost an arm and a leg.”
Thorp adds that the life insurance industry is ‘out-of-date and overly complex’ and like most services, people require quick access to life insurance online with more knowledge and support. “We have seen that in the hugely positive response to date to our product. With this seed funding we can now supercharge our growth and become the all of life platform for the millennial generation,” Thorp says.
Modernising life insurance
In a conversation with UKTN, Thorp reveals more about Bequest and what it aims to accomplish. The company was founded back in 2019 by James Buckey Thorp, after he realised how archaic the insurance industry was when he lost a friend in late 2017. Thorp says, “I realised how life insurance was slipping through the cracks for those with digital assets, and with the needs and desires of the millennial generation as a whole. This is when Bequest was born.”
The startup focusses its offering for the millennials and claims to be challenging the status quo. Typically, fulfilling insurance cover can take up to 6 weeks or even more, however Bequest says it can do the same in as little as 15 minutes. “People get instant cover, up to £500,000. Instant access, knowing that their family is supported no matter what happens,” Thorp adds.
The startup also aims to educate its consumers and has content available on its site for those who want to learn more. Moreover, it offers users to modify their policy up to 3 times and is also keen on addressing the poverty premium gap, wherein those in poorer areas could end up paying more for insurance. Bequest avoids this by not using customer’s post codes as part of the risk analysis.
Removing mental health discrimination
Bequest says it does not perform medical checkups and it is also changing the way insurance industry works by removing mental health discrimination. It claims to be the first life insurer to pay out in the event of a suicide, without a 12 month waiting period that apparently, other insurers impose.
“While most companies have discriminatory clauses, we don’t believe that’s right. Mental health as a whole is outdated and misunderstood and we’ve updated our documents to reflect that. Our question set takes into account your physical and mental health,“ says Thorp. “Working alongside bereavement support charities, we are also able to bring awareness to their cause, to reduce stigma around such topics.”
COVID and insurance
With the pandemic impacting different sectors in varying ways, we enquired how Bequest was affected. Thorp notes that during the pandemic, they witnessed over 4050% increase in life insurance requests. Additionally, when the pandemic started, the company immediately rolled out a will-writing service with its will-writing partners, James Pearson Estate Planning. The startup has also grown 320% since the pandemic started.
“Life is short, and our understanding of morality has completely changed since the pandemic. It’s only right we continue to support everyone we can, but in a new-normal approach,” Thorp concludes.