Life InsuranceJul 15 2021

Insurer lands £50m to disrupt ‘last frontier of fintech’

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Insurer lands £50m to disrupt ‘last frontier of fintech’
YuLife founder and CEO, Sammy Rubin (center)

Life insurance start-up YuLife has landed £50m ($70m) in funding to disrupt what it is calling “the last frontier of fintech”.

The insurer’s lead investor was Target Global, which has already invested in fellow UK insurtech firm Zego.

Other new investors include Paris-based Eurazeo and Latitude, the sister fund to London-based seed investor LocalGlobe.

YuLife was co-founded by Sammy Rubin, who previously co-founded Pru Protect - which later became Vitality Life. He also floated his first venture, Policy Portfolio, on the London Stock Exchange back in the 1990s, before it was eventually sold to Investec.

“I’ve always wanted to build a tech-driven insurance firm,” Rubin told FTAdviser. “Insurance is kind of like the last frontier of fintech. It’s a huge market. But we’re dealing with people’s lives. It’s much easier to innovate in spaces not as close to home, so it takes a lot of credibility to disrupt a market like this.”

YuLife works with AIG to underwrite its products, which have amassed £10bn worth of cover for more than 400,000 policyholders.

The start-up focuses on the three big group protection products - life insurance, income protection, and critical illness.

Customers include major brands like the Co-op, as well as smaller fintech start-ups like Curve.

Rubin thinks 40 per cent of the companies YuLife has approached so far have never bought life insurance for their staff before. “We believe we’re growing the market.”

For now, the insurtech firmly has its stake in employer-employee products, with no immediate plans to go into individual protection.

During Covid-19, YuLife claims to have grown its policy balance sheet “more than ten times”. Rubin puts this down to companies prioritising their wellbeing strategies, a behavioural change investors have spotted and are now doubling down on through investments into firms like YuLife.

Rubin said he has made a conscious effort to hire his employees from diverse, non-insurance backgrounds - such as gaming, behavioural psychology, and engineering.

These cross-sector influences have played into YuLife’s product make-up. One is its ‘YuCoin’ feature, which it dubs the “currency of wellbeing”. 

Policyholders can earn YuCoin for every mile walked, or every two minutes of mindfulness taken - which it provides through meditation and sleeping app Calm. These coins can then be exchanged for air miles, or for vouchers at retailers such as ASOS and Amazon.

Such a gamified approach to life insurance has seen “a third '' of YuLife’s policyholders engage with its app “at least once a day”, according to Rubin.

“There’s all these shiny apps which sit on the shelf and aren’t being used,” Rubin explained. “Our funders saw we were getting really high engagement rates, which for an insurance company is quite unique. We have 120 touch points, versus a couple which is the industry average.”

Currently, YuLife employs some 90 people. Rubin intends to double this over the next 18 months. Other investors in its latest round included existing backers Creandum, Notion Capital, Anthemis, MMC Ventures, and OurCrowd.