CAPE TOWN – Jonathan Walker, the owner of a tech company in Johannesburg had his phone and laptop stolen. Essentially, his entire means to run his business was taken from him. But of course he was insured, so though an inconvenience, the theft was not the end of the world.

Until it took his insurance company two months to replace these stolen items.

The to-ing and fro-ing between himself and the insurance company, the ridiculous requirements to find the proof of purchase of items purchased years before, and the endless delays with delivering the replacement items were just the tip of the frustration iceberg for him. His story is not unusual. Many South Africans have been through some version of this with an insurance company.

So Walker, 41 came up with a plan to develop world-class technology that would tackle every pain point he experienced in his insurance – especially claims – journey and he would deliver it through a smart, intuitive and functional platform. The result …Granadilla, instant app-based insurance that adapts to a customer’s lifestyle.

Digital technologies have been disrupting industries across the spectrum, from Airbnb in hospitality, to Uber in transport – so why should insurance be any different?

A number of insurance start-ups, many of them tech-led, have entered the South African insurance market in 2018, shaking up an industry that is notoriously frustrating for consumers.

A popular metric for measuring a brand’s performance is the Net Promoter Score (NPS), which gauges the likelihood that customers will recommend a brand to their family and friends (promoters) compared to customers who would actively discourage a relationship with the brand (detractors).

The latest South African Customer Satisfaction Index (SAcsi) for Short Term Insurance Companies (2017) puts the short-term industry average NPS at 29.9%.

For many this signals an industry that is out of touch with its customers and ripe for disruption.

“Granadilla aims to put the power back in our clients’ hands. By using an AI bot for cover and claims, we add efficiency into the process wherever possible. But when you do need a real, helpful human – we’re only a phone call away. And you won’t be speaking to a call centre agent who won’t be able to help you. Because the bot element makes the more tedious processes more efficient, we can focus on ensuring that our customer-facing personnel are more empathetic and problem-solving oriented – that they are empowered to make decisions and to focus on the more human element rather than processes and procedures.”

Granadilla combines AI, machine learning and chatbots with a customer-centric business model, that allows for a great customer experience and dramatically reduced overheads, with the cover, claims and fraud detection functions largely being digitised. These savings are passed onto the customer to makeGranadilla’s offering very price competitive. Savings are distributed in the form of lower premiums, and decreasing excesses over time.

“It is important for us that our clients know that because we earn a flat fee, regardless of whether their claim is paid out or not, we have no incentive not to pay out a claim,” says Walker. “This is our mission – to bring transparency, fairness, helpfulness and humanity into an industry that has become so alienated from its clients. The irony is that we are using technology to do this.”

Granadilla has launched with smartphone, tablet, laptop and wearable tech insurance. Many more products are being rolled out before the end of the year.

In addition to replacing lost or stolen devices with new replacements, Granadilla’s smartphone insurance offering includes a “like-new” cover alternative. 

With this option clients can choose cover that provides them with a replacement device that is “pre-loved” - a good-as-new mobile that is delivered to your door with headphones, a charger and a 6-month warranty at a fraction of the price of a brand new replacement phone. The aim is to give customers a lower-price premium alternative, but also to appeal to the millennial market, by offering an environmentally friendly option to choose from.

 For more on Granadilla, visit their website onwww.granadilla.ai or download the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE