This interview is part of ClaimScore Experts Wisdom Series
Today, the team at Claimscore is really excited to welcome Zoe, from My Urban Jungle, to talk to us about content insurance solutions that fit your needs when you rent or share a house. My Urban Jungle is a UK insurance start-up which launched only last year but is growing fast. On top of creating solutions specifically for people who rent a flat or share a larger property, they also focus on using tech to make insurance better – making it simpler, better value, and more relevant to the risks we actually face in our day to day.
Like a lot of people, Jimmy Williams, our Co-Founder and CEO, has had some pretty disappointing experiences with insurance as a renter. Straight out of uni, he was living with friends and just couldn’t find an insurance provider who would cover them. This really isn’t advertised much, but most insurance providers won’t cover groups of 3 or more unrelated housemates because they’re considered too ‘high risk’. Jimmy found this totally unfair, especially considering that he was living with a group of young professionals who genuinely wanted to look after their stuff and weren’t partying every weekend.
Fast forward a few years, Jimmy had worked as a consultant to some traditional insurers and realised that these problems extended a lot further than he had thought. With his inside knowledge, he knew that using tech was the answer and so set out to fix insurance himself.
For young renters, many of which live in the city, things can get really overwhelming – renting, navigating financial independence, trying to save money but enjoy themselves, too. It’s such a minefield, we thought that urban jungle was the best way to describe it.
We launched in August 2017 with just one product – contents insurance. Since then, we’ve launched 3 more: Tenants liability insurance, gadget insurance, and shared contents insurance for houses of 6 or less!
I think people are often surprised by how user friendly our website is – we’ve had people get contents insurance for the first time and not have any questions! We’ve also put lots of time and effort into making everything super quick, we pride ourselves on the fact that you can get a quote in five minutes. If you’re in a rush and want transparent pricing, then we’re one of the best options out there – and a lot faster than comparison sites! If you look through our customers’ reviews, the words ‘quick’ and ‘easy’ come up a lot!
We know that a lot of people prefer to pay monthly for their insurance – rents are going up, and a lot of people find it easier to budget on a monthly basis than an annual one. For our contents insurance, which tends to cost a bit more than our other products, we give customers the option of paying monthly or annually. Our cheaper products we only offer at a flat annual rate, but when you’re dealing with £40 or so, that isn’t such a big problem.
We mostly offer contents insurance, so we’re mainly targeting renters. Most of our customers are renters between 20 and 40, and they tend to be perhaps a little more tech-savvy and careful with their budgeting.
One of our best-selling products is tenants liability insurance, which a lot of people are required to buy by their letting agents. It can help protect your security deposit, which is great, but a lot of insurers are charging unfair amounts for it.
When you think how much people have to pay on their deposits (sometimes more than two months’ rent!), it’s crazy that they have to buy insurance on top of it all. We think it’s totally unfair to force your tenants to buy it, and a lot of the insurers that offer it are charging ridiculously high prices. One of our main principles is to give customers a fair deal, so we offer this insurance at one of the best prices on the market. A lot of people choose us for that reason.
House sharers were the first version of the sharing economy! Generally, though, when people talk about the sharing economy, they tend to be thinking of things like Airbnb or Uber. Nowadays, the term deals with people making money off something that they already own but without having to sell it. It says a lot about people’s mindsets nowadays – being savvy and sensible with money is a lot more commonplace and people respect the need for budgeting more than they used to. It makes sense. Can’t afford a car? Get an Uber. Can’t afford a house? Insure your stuff so you don’t have to dip into your savings should something happen.
I’m sure that a lot of insurers have had to (or will soon realise that they need to) change to catch up with shifting needs. Luckily for us, we designed everything to suit modern needs for renters and sharers! It’s definitely something that we’re always careful to think about, especially since we’ve been launching new products – we’re always asking ourselves if we’re solving a genuine problem and if we’re solving it in a way that makes sense for the average person. One thing which is one of the reasons that Urban Jungle was started, and which more traditional insurers really need to start addressing, is that people are renting for longer, now. It used to be that people would have saved enough to buy a house by their late 20s, but nowadays some of us aren’t sure that we’ll ever afford it. This means that contents insurance really needs to step up and get better, which is what we’re trying to do!
We’re a really tight-knit team, and there’s a great work-life balance in the office – we work hard to launch a new product on time, and then we’ll open a bottle of champagne and celebrate together. Little things like always going out for lunch on Fridays mean that we don’t get too bogged down with work and we give ourselves time to just hang out with each other, so it doesn’t take long to get to know the team! One of my favourite things about working here is how quickly you can see progress – when I started back in January we just had one product on the market and there were only 7 of us, and now we’ve just launched our 4th product and our 11th employee starts in a few weeks!
One of the biggest things that we’ve come across is a lot of people under insuring their contents. It doesn’t sound like that big a problem at first, but it can actually have a huge impact if you need to make a claim. First of all, your insurance provider will only pay out a maximum of the amount you’re insured for – imagine if you were insured for £20K and then your apartment flooded and you had to buy all new furniture, electric devices, clothes, and groceries, and also had to stay in a hotel while everything was sorted out. That £20K could run out really quickly, even if you were being as careful as possible with your expenses.
Secondly, if you’ve undervalued your belongings, even when the claim is for a small amount, the insurer can choose to reduce the payout. For example, say you’re insured for £25,000, but actually own £50,000 of contents. Now imagine £5,000 worth of items are stolen. When the insurer assesses your property, they’ll only pay out £2,500 in proportion to your cover level.
Flexible and remote working is being used as a perk on job descriptions a lot right now, and I think that makes a lot of sense. I know that when I first applied to Urban Jungle I was impressed by the option to work hours that suited you (so long as you worked the same number of hours as everyone else). I think it’s definitely the way that offices will be in the future, it means that people feel more free to do what works for them, and if you need to leave work early one day you don’t feel guilty at all because you know you can work it out later.
We’ve actually had a super exciting few weeks on this! We launched gadget insurance a few weeks ago, which we were very proud to get from the first line of code to launch in 8 working days. We’ve just launched shared contents insurance, which covers up to 6 unrelated housemates. This is huge for us, it’s essentially the reason that our CEO wanted to start an insurance business, so we’re really happy to be able to sell it.
“The future belongs to the curious”
Curiosity is an amazing quality, and I think that if you look at everything as an opportunity to learn something new then life becomes a lot more interesting!
A little note from the Claimscore Team....
We hope you learned as much as we did from Zoe. Let us know what the best tip you found out was and whether you have any other questions we could ask Zoe for you on the matter of tenant liability insurance, content insurance when renting, gadget insurance or even underinsuring.
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