A day in the life of a Zego Pricing Actuary: insurance licence special
Written by Millie Paine
At Zego, we love putting the spotlight on the people who make our product amazing. To celebrate our new insurance licence, we spoke to Pricing Actuary Alex Price about the work that went into the licence, what it means for his role in the future and why he loves nothing more than checking sales data over his morning coffee.
Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself and your role here at Zego.
I’m Alex, and I’ve been a Pricing Actuary at Zego since the beginning of September. My job is to set the prices for our insurance policies, making sure that they’re high enough to cover claims and costs while remaining competitive. Getting the balance right for setting our prices is really important to allow us to grow.
I come from an insurance background - prior to Zego, I worked in a more traditional firm. It’s incredibly different working in a start-up, where projects happen on a weekly time-scale rather than an annual one. It’s very fast-paced here.
Briefly, what exactly is the insurer licence and what does it mean for Zego?
The insurer licence allows us to underwrite our own policies. Whereas previously we had to negotiate with our partners for every price change we wanted to make on our policies, this is now an internal decision. As a result, we’re able to launch products a lot faster and tailor them to better suit our customers.
This change comes with a lot of extra responsibility - insurance is one of the most strictly regulated industries, and we are now held to additional rules and standards that come with having a licence. We have a duty of care to both policy-holders and claimants to ensure we are able to cover the costs should they have an accident, and upholding this is now more important than ever.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Typically, I’ll get in and have my morning coffee while I check the sales for the day before, for stats on conversion rates and quotability. I’ll also have a look at product development - optimising a current product to make it more profitable, or launching a new one.
If I’m launching a new product, this will involve working with other teams across the business: verticals that have identified a segment of the market to target, Data Engineering to provide insight for pricing decisions, and the Tech teams to make pricing proposals a reality.
Did this differ in the lead up to securing the insurer licence?
My day-to-day while working on the insurer licence involved lots of launching new products. While the pricing impact was designed to be minimal, it was really important to make sure this happened smoothly, and that there weren’t any discrepancies between our old prices and our new ones.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while working on this project?
As a lot of people in the company come from a tech background rather than an insurance one, I get asked a lot of questions that come under a wider remit than just pricing.
Working in a smaller company means I do a lot that sits outside of my role at the previous insurance firm I worked for, so I’ve had to learn about different parts of the business. I’ve often had to pick up underwriting queries or perform financial modelling.
The main way that I get around these challenges is by breaking them down and going through them step-by-step. Often, having to work on things I’m not entirely familiar with can seem daunting, but by breaking them down into smaller tasks I find them a lot more manageable.
Going forward, what does the licence mean for your role? Will anything be changing within your day-to-day?
Going forward, I’ll still mostly be working on pricing. However, I’ll have a few more responsibilities for the carrier. Now that we’re paying claims ourselves, in conjunction with our reinsurers, we have to project what our ultimate claims cost will be on a quarterly basis, which is a separate actuarial role. I’ll also be ensuring we have an adequate amount of capital to pay out in the event of a claim.
Aside from working on the licence, what’s your favourite thing about your job?
I love the sense of satisfaction I get when working on a product’s pricing, and then seeing that product grow and become more profitable. This is why I religiously check the sales every morning!
And what’s your favourite thing about working for Zego overall?
Zego really works to push and empower people - I appreciate the fact that I get to have so much more responsibility here than I did in my previous role. The free food in the office kitchen is also a big plus.
So, what’s the next big milestone for Zego?
We’ve got some new products that we’re planning on launching next year, so we’ve got a lot of work to do now to get those ready. Although we don’t need to renegotiate with other insurers, we still need to talk to the regulators, as well as making decisions on these internally. I can’t share any more details for now, but 2020 is shaping up to be a very exciting year!