Brolly is a mobile insurance assistant and broker that helps customers manage their current cover, fill gaps and remove dual cover.
The Brolly concept has been around since September 2015 but the business was founded by Phoebe Hugh and Mykhailo Loginov in 2016. Prior to Brolly, Phoebe was an underwriter at Aviva. We cover Brolly in November as part of Women in InsurTech month.
Brolly is trying to fix a customer problem: ‘how do I make sure I get the right level of cover, at the right price, with the least effort?’
The live version of Brolly, which is currently limited to an insurance “Locker”, does this in a few ways:
- Searches through your emails, using machine learning, to find existing policy details.
- Extracts information about those policies; the extracted data includes insurable interest, premium, policy number, start and end date, and cover details.
- Informs customers about dual insurance and will soon be able to help them cancel unnecessary policies.
- Notifies a customer of renewal dates.
- Stores all policies in one place.
In Q1 2018, Brolly will launch the “Shop”, which allows customers to get quotes and buy insurance in-app from a panel of providers. The first two products are travel and motor. Whilst Brolly builds products directly into the shop, customers will be able to access other products by clicking through to affiliated insurers.
Finally, the “Advisor” module, to be launched later in 2018, is a robobroker designed to help the customer decide which cover they need and avoid being over or under insured.
Phoebe says that users number in the thousands, which has been achieved with no external marketing spend.
The Brolly journey to 2017
In 2015/16, Phoebe went through the Entrepreneur First programme twice. It was during the second stint in 2016 that she met and partnered with her co-founder Mykhailo Loginov. Mykhailo was previously an engineering manager at Microsoft and Skype.
In late 2016 Brolly launched their first beta-testing app which Phoebe describes as “a useful prototype to learn about customers but not scalable”. At the beginning of 2017 the team had the unwanted distraction of having to find a new logo following the threatened legal action by Travelers. In July 2017 they raised £1m in funding, in a round led by Peter Thiel backed Valar Ventures. This has allowed them to hire a full-time development team. As a result, they now have a scalable app ready for active marketing in 2018.
The Oxbow Partners’ View
Those that have been following InsurTech for the last few years will know that Brolly has been around a while. In fact, Brolly was in the news c.6 months before the term ‘InsurTech’ was in common parlance. But you have to remember that, unlike other notable InsurTechs, the team isn’t made up of industry stalwarts and they don’t have significant startup experience. This has made fund raising a challenge and has resulted in the team bootstrapping through the first two years. You could argue the Brolly PR machine should have waited a few months before going public.
We can see pros and cons of the proposition. On the plus side, they are acknowledging that customers want to think less about insurance and not more. And, they are helping them take control with very little effort. On the other hand, for a lot of the larger value policies (home and motor) they are fighting against the marketing budgets of the comparison sites. They may well have a better proposition for a large group of these customers – but will they be able to cut through the noise and persuade customers to do something different cost effectively?