The Zego insurance licence: how did we do it?
Written by Millie Paine
Zego recently obtained a licence to underwrite its own insurance products, becoming the first UK insurtech to do so. This was an incredibly exciting development for us. Not only can we now build and sell our own products, we can also be much more innovative with the pricing we can offer our customers.
As well as all of the financial and legal processes that you would expect, the project also involved a lot of work from the operations, tech and product teams. We talked to Natalie (Senior Product Manager), Luis (Senior Software Engineer) and Verity (Senior Operations Manager) to get an insight into the work that went into the project and the learnings they’re carrying into the future.
So, what exactly was the Zego carrier project?
Luis - The purpose of the Zego Carrier project was to create and launch the first products that would be insured by our own licence. Prior to that, we operated as a broker, offering products that were approved and underwritten by other insurance companies. The capacity to insure our own products was essential for us to have the freedom to develop truly innovative products and pricing at speed.
The main challenge around this was transitioning all of our existing users to these new products. This needed to be done in compliance with all regulations and treating our customers fairly. The transition was also complex because it needed to be done by simultaneously phasing out other product lines we could no longer support. Accomplishing all of this without loss of service for any of our customers was the main hurdle we had to overcome.
Why is it significant from a product point of view that Zego can now write policies under its own licence?
Nat - The biggest win here is the increased speed of getting insurance products to market. Having the ability to write and innovate products in-house means we have more agency to deliver the best value to our customers without compromise.
Many of the insurance companies you know of don’t actually underwrite their own policies; they’re brokers who sell the insurance and the risk is taken on by other insurance companies behind the scenes. Getting our own insurance licence means we can now both underwrite and sell insurance, taking on the risk and allowing us to offer the best prices to customers.
Verity - Having our own insurance licence allows us to have better control over what products we want to explore, and the rates we want to handle. It allows us to be a bit more innovative and allows us to explore our core values. We can also go into areas that
traditional insurers may not want to.
Luis - Engineering was required to set up and configure the new set of products in the existing infrastructure of the platform. There was also a need to manage the transition of existing users from the old products to the new analogue products. All of this was managed with tooling created by the tech team.
What was the most rewarding part of launching Zego Carrier?
Nat - It was personally one of my first big launches so it was a special win for me. It was a timely crash course in the world of insurance and all the technicalities and operations around writing, launching and maintaining an insurance product in-house vs one that we work with external insurers. This project was only possible because we stand on the shoulders of so many other Zegons before us who have been working on getting this licence for years. It was special to be in the team that takes it across the finishing line.
Luis - I’ve been in the company for a long time, and we’ve been discussing this since the very beginning. It felt like a really big milestone that we hit as a company. It was really gratifying, and so cool to be a part of it.
Verity - Well, we were the first insurtech to launch their own carrier in the UK, and it’s always good to be the first to do something! Zego hires people that are ambitious and hard-working - this was something both operationally and technically challenging, which definitely suited those traits. It cut across and challenged the entire business. It was really interesting to be granted something that you know will have a really big impact for our users and business in the future.
What did you not expect when first embarking on this project?
Luis - We underestimated the amount of communication that would be needed from the perspective of our users (it was a lot!). It was a challenge to ensure that we treated our customers fairly and made sure that everything was done as smoothly as possible. The copy needed to be legally correct while still being easy to read. Usually creating a product for us is just a launch with a campaign following afterwards. However, this needed to be communicated precisely within specific time intervals - this is because we had to move users from existing products into new ones, which meant they had to be notified accordingly.
Verity - I was new to the company and this was my first project - I didn’t expect it would be something so big!
What do you think your biggest learnings were from working on Zego Carrier?
Nat - For me, definitely the legalities and best practices surrounding switching a user from one carrier to another. A regulatory requirement of being an insurance company involves adhering to the principle of ‘Treating Customers Fairly’, and this project really showed me what that means to us in day-to-day practice. We had to make sure that customers got enough notice and choice around renewals, and how the change might affect their lives.
Luis - Personally, I got to be in charge of the launching of a load of new insurance products, writing the code, and having all of those design conversations. All of this was to support our users and achieve our company goals. The impact was huge, so it was definitely a challenge that gave me the opportunity for a lot of personal growth.
Verity - Launching an insurance company is the easy bit - running it is an entirely different ball game. We needed to ensure that we have processes in place for the continued running of it. It’s not a project that you can just leave, as it requires ongoing maintenance work. We had to factor this into our planning.
What does this project mean for the engineering team going forward?
Luis - The Zego Carrier project meant that we needed to overhaul all of our processes and flows - lots of work had to be done at that stage, and we now need to ensure we continue to provide the support it needs. Some of them are smaller, simpler tasks that would be excellent for new juniors coming into the company. Some of them are big, overarching changes that require lots of software engineering and design to work properly. As a result, there are loads of exciting challenges for new engineers to come into, both big and small.
If you want to solve big challenges like these then look no further - Zego is hiring! Head to our careers page to check out our current vacancies.