The CEO shares the thought process behind launching the Open in the UK
The CEO shares the thought process behind launching the Open in the UK

CEO shares thought process behind UK Open launch | Insurance Business United Kingdom

“I think the exciting thing is that the pace of innovation is accelerating”

The CEO shares the thought process behind launching the Open in the UK


By Mia Wallace

There is global ambition rooted at the heart of Open, the embedded insurance provider that launched in the UK market through the acquisition of UK-based insurtech SO-SURE last week. And with MGA already having a wholly-owned footprint in Australia and New Zealand, the UK was a natural next step, according to chief executive Jason Wilby (pictured right).

The UK is interesting to the Open not only because of its scale, he said, but also the maturity it shows in affinity and embedded space. Some supermarkets in the UK, for example, have been selling insurance for around two decades, while mega-giants in the US are just now testing the waters of developing financial services offerings.

“With that maturity comes opportunity,” he said. “There are a lot of businesses in the UK with affinity and built-in style that are quite under-invested in terms of technology and customer experience. That’s pretty exciting for us because it means there’s an opportunity here for us.

“There are also newer horizons and models that open up for new embedded insurance products that the market supports here… And from our perspective, this is a stepping stone to the European market that allows us to build a base here from which we can expand to other markets as well.”

Why is the UK ready for embedded insurance?

Identifying where the UK’s maturity in embedded insurance stems from, Wilby highlighted the opportunities that exist in the market. There are significant insurance opportunities, he said, as well as regulatory opportunities.

Insurance capacity supports high levels of innovation, he said, while the maturity of the regulatory landscape means there is advanced understanding and attention paid to the customer’s perspective. The regulatory landscape in the UK paints a fairly similar picture to Australia, which had its own consumer duty moment a few years ago when a slew of regulatory changes were led by a Royal Commission.

“For us, a mature regulatory environment is very valuable because we have already made investments to be able to operate within those boundaries,” he said. “I think the other thing that’s driving the maturity is that a lot of brands and retailers in the UK are at the forefront when it comes to embracing opportunities to offer or bundle financial services to their customer base.”

How did you come to acquire SO-SURE?

Given the attractiveness of the British market, it was a natural progression for the Open’s interest to find the right partnership and Wilby noted that it was a careful selection process. Acquisition is always easier said than done, he said, and the team had been eyeing the potential as a route to the UK for quite some time when SO-SURE came along.

After talking to the SO-SURE team for a while, it soon became clear that their background and background as a B2C-style business was a strong connection.

“What we really liked about them was their focus on the customer and that there’s a really strong culture that fits the Open,” he said. “We’re a B Corp and have been since 2017. We have a pretty high bar when it comes to thinking about customer value and user value, and it’s lined up very well for us.

“It also offers additional product lines, which allows us to gain some opportunities in mobile phone insurance. The device insurance space is also really interesting for us as there are opportunities to grow it in the UK but also to expand it into Australia and some of our other markets.”

What’s on the agenda for Wilby and his team?

Looking ahead to 2024, Wilby said building the Open’s presence in the UK market would be a key area of ​​focus. With the acquisition announced, it’s time to start the real work of fully integrating SO-SURE to effectively become Open UK – and start rolling out its offering and adding some additional products in the UK. In addition, Open UK will announce some new distribution partners in 2024.

As for what those relationships will look like, he stressed that Open is looking to work with partners who are realistic about what it means to build a financial services proposition. If they’re not a financial services business, Open aims to provide plenty of support – whether that’s through licensing, products or technology.

As for the future of embedded insurance in the UK, Wilby is very positive – the market is seeing some really interesting new models develop.

“I think what’s exciting is that the pace of innovation is accelerating,” he said. “So we’re seeing some really interesting new products, but also new partners and new ways of working with brands to be able to deliver that as well.”

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