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Can a mixture of artificial intelligence (AI) and computer gaming upend the world of insurance? YuLife, a U.K.-based insurance startup, is on a quest to do just that.
The company intends to bring its model for gamified life and health insurance into the North America and U.S. markets. Right now, the company insures more than 500,000 British customers, and it believes that the U.S. market alone could be five times larger.
“We are fundamentally approaching the life insurance industry from a new perspective,” said Sammy Rubin, the CEO and founder of YuLife. “Our mission is to inspire people to live their best lives, and we’ve always felt that insurance was just focusing on the claims when people die.”
Fusing gamification into the mix
Toward that end, YuLife distributes an app that tracks and rewards users who engage in healthful behavior like going for a walk or engaging in meditation. They receive YuCoins for good acts, and they can later exchange these tokens for either free goods at Amazon or airline miles.
The company is also expanding options beyond consumption. YuCoin users can also spend the tokens on what it calls “impact initiatives” with more environmentally helpful or humanitarian goals. This year the company says that members have supported planting more than 18,000 trees and supplying more than 30,000 meals to Ukrainian refugees.
“Amazon is definitely the most popular,” says Rubin. “But after that, we’re finding that a lot of the philanthropic activities, especially with the rise and ESG and more sensitivity around doing good in the world.”
Gamification is a trending goal right now for several companies across industries because it drives engagement and customers seem to like it. All the fitness apps like Strava, MapMyRun or OpenFit, to name just a few, rely heavily on setting goals and then rewarding any progress toward it. They tap into human’s innate competitive nature.
At the same time, companies are bringing the same model to other pursuits that may have been less competitive in the past. Duolingo, for example, rewards users with points and also nudges them with goals and leaderboards. Waze tracks users who report problems like traffic jams and then rewards them with points.
“There are different player types: achievers, explorers, socializers and killers,” explains Rubin. “They all have different mechanisms as to why they engage in the app, and we’ve built a rich experience in the app to cater for all types of people.”
Leaderboards, for instance, attract the most competitive, while explorers are given many different modes or feature sets to investigate.
At present, group life insurance is said to be the “flagship product” for YuLife, but it wants to also combine their efforts with other products like disability, income protection, dental insurance or health insurance. The marketplace in the United States is much different from the United Kingdom, where their National Health Service offers a base of support for all citizens.
“Obviously health insurance is more important to the U.S. so we will also be coupling it with health insurance, but our flagship product is really the existing group life insurance, which is a huge, huge market alone,” says Rubin. “Most companies are offering group life, death and service benefits to their employees and now this will be a richer offering that they can offer.”
The company’s recent $120 million series C funding round was led by Dai-ichi Life Holdings Inc. (TSE: 8750) (“Dai-ichi Life”), a new investor in the company. YuLife has also raised another $86 million since its founding in 2016 from other investors like Creandum, LocalGlobe, Target Global, Latitude, Anthemis, OurCrowd, Notion, MMC and Eurazeo who also participated in this round.
“Dai-ichi Life is committed to supporting companies that have a proven track record of changing people’s lives for the better, and YuLife does exactly that, by bringing tangible value to financial products to bolster individuals’ wellbeing,” said Toshiaki Sumino, director, managing executive officer at Dai-ichi Life Holdings, Inc., which led the round. “YuLife has immense potential to build on its achievements to date, and we are thrilled to invest and help propel YuLife toward its next steps and scale its global operations.”