How Henry Croydon is using Micro Insurance Company to offer white-label insurance products for telcos, lenders, and platform businesses.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Henry Croydon: My family and I are doing fine, thank you. First and most importantly, we all have our health. I also feel extremely fortunate that during this pandemic, everyone in my family either had a job they were able to work from home, or they shifted gears and were able to jump into a new opportunity.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Micro Insurance Company.
Henry Croydon: I am the founder and CEO of the Micro Insurance Company (MIC). My career has been a real mixed bag of industries and careers, but somehow it all came together and led me to the thing I feel I was really meant to do. I’ve worked in construction, retail, software, financial services, technology, you name it. However, the one theme that has always been constant, regardless of what industry I was working in, is that I was looking for a tangible way to help people. What led me to start MIC was really a combination of preparation and timing – a coming together of a few things in my life that suddenly all made sense. My unique mix of professional experience has given me a very practical outlook on innovation and problem-solving. One of my greatest strengths is bridging together business and technology. I worked at Microsoft for over a decade creating internet strategies following Bill Gates’ big announcement that we were going to do the internet. This was in the mid-’90s. After I left Microsoft, I started a Lloyds broker in the early 2000s focused on cyber insurance with my business partner (who was a friend I met randomly at a barbecue.) It paid the bills and kept us busy, but we both wanted to be a part of something much bigger than ourselves. Then came the financial crisis of 2008, the gig economy came about, and the idea of insurance popped back into my head. Suddenly, people were sharing homes, renting bikes, working two or three jobs, or renting a house on vacation instead of staying in hotels. I realized this type of economy needed a new kind of insurance – policies by the minute, day, or KM. It needed Microinsurance. At the time, AI software was also starting to become more mainstream – well, let’s say, process automation more accurately. Mobile tech was also now global in that over 4 billion people across the world had access to phones and the internet. Lastly, people were starting to talk about “insurtech”, – which means technology was actually being taken seriously in the insurance industry. So I decided to move to New York (a long time ambition) to set up a “fully stacked” insurance company. The idea was to create an insurance company that focused on straight-through processing, with high volume sales and the ability to process claims very efficiently. It was the perfect marriage of the tech company we had built and our knowledge around insurance. That became the embryo from which Micro Insurance Company was born.
How does Micro Insurance Company innovate?
Henry Croydon: AIteratively, I would say. Our mission is “to build a global safety net, so when the unexpected happens, people are able to bounce back swiftly.” That is our big-picture objective and is at the centre of everything we do. Of course, there are actionable steps we have to take daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly to work towards our ultimate goal of delivering a global safety net. As a result, we are always innovating across the full stack of the insurance process. That means technology innovation – we are bringing AI, machine learning and automation into the processes. We also innovate with the insurance products we’re creating and are always focused on improving the policy and claims process. One of our biggest aims is to pay claims very quickly, which means we have to make sure our policy and claims process is simple and clear. It takes a lot of innovation and effort in order to create products that work in a simple way. We have a team of people who are constantly working on new processes and policies across the company in order to make this happen – in Tech, Insurance, Operations, Marketing, and Finance. By keeping it all in-house (despite being international), ensures that innovation is developed in line with our goals and overall mission.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Henry Croydon: It has affected us on several levels. First, some team members have had close family or friends affected by covid, which was very sad and unexpected for them. We’ve also seen a drop off in business during 2020 as countries slowed down and took time to recover. Our company also took the proper safety protocols, which had an effect on operations. In our call centre, for example, our teams had to socially distance themselves. For some, travelling to work was difficult or not possible, which affected the company’s revenue. In places like Pakistan, it’s not always possible to have people work at home as they don’t always have the infrastructure to do so. Another obstacle we faced was that many of our clients and customers altered their priorities during the pandemic, which affected our revenues and plans throughout 2020 and into 2021. However, we did what we had to do to redirect and alter our business as needed, and now we’re on a path to growth. We’re even on target to achieve our 2021 goals. Outside of finances, covid also disrupted our normal workflow. Projects have taken more time to implement, and the management team has not been able to travel to see their teams locally in their locations. As a result, we’ve had to implement many new processes to keep in touch with our teams globally. I will say, however, the silver lining in all of this is that even though our method of communication changed – i.e. from in-person to over video calls – our frequency of communication actually increased during this time. We found many ways to get creative during this time, such as having team competitions, company-wide town halls on Fridays, and 1-2-1 calls with senior management. We actually even had a little fun along the way!
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Henry Croydon: We have built our own CRM processes and tools. Many CRM tools are SAAS based, and we find them expensive and not very suitable for our company. We have two customers as we are a B2B2C company. Our sales and account management teams look after our channel partners very closely to ensure that we are growing our channel and customer base daily. For our end customers – the policyholders, if you like, we communicate with them in various ways through our systems, especially if they have a claim. Our goal is to build a very broad community that reaches far and wide. The first part of accomplishing that is to help companies understand the benefits of insurance, as well as how and when to make a claim on their policies.
Your final thoughts?
Henry Croydon: Covid was tough on a lot of people. We dedicated a lot of time to helping others mitigate the effects the pandemic had on their emotional, financial, and physical well-being. I think our business was able to survive simply because we took action very early on. Working from home ended up being a positive for many of us, as we were able to focus and accomplish a lot. I have to say, though, I do miss face-to-face meetings with our teams and clients. I am looking forward to being able to travel and see people again.
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