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Large corporate firms and directors have had expensive and complicated private medical insurance for years, but the founders of Equipsme believed the bulk of UK business underserved and wanted something more practical that would work for the whole team.
The work began long before anyone had heard the words coronavirus, but the pandemic has only served to highlight what the team has long believed: that the health of your business is only as good as the health of your team and that people from all professions want to be able to invest in having better access to practical healthcare support.
Founder and managing director Matthew Reed’s work began in 2017 with a 10-month research project.
He asked SME owners what they wanted in a health support package, over and above the NHS, and how much they were willing to spend. 65% of them said they wanted to spend £200 – £350 per employee per year.
Meanwhile NHS figures show the strain on the front end of the health service: 24% of full-time employees have to wait for more than a week to see their GP whilst some patients are waiting as long as four months for a physiotherapy appointment.
The strain takes its toll on businesses as well as people. The CBI estimates that health-related absence costs SMEs £720 per person per year. Minor illnesses are the biggest cause, totalling 27% of the working hours lost to illness, with a further 19% due to musculoskeletal (muscles, bones, and joints) issues such as back problems, and 12% from mental health conditions.
Armed with this insight Equipsme set out to create a simpler, affordable, digitally integrated product that would help firms to provide a meaningful employee benefit and reduce staff absence due to ill health with a focus on prompt and flexible access to professional advice.
It began trading on 1 March 2018 having developed a digital product on time and on budget with a scalable digital sales and policy portal including the ability for appointment bookings to be delivered within its own app.
The entry level plan for £7 per person per month includes access to a GP service with NHS-registered doctors offering consultations by phone or video 24/7, private physiotherapy appointments, an online health check and access to AXA PPP’s nurse helpline. £17pppm adds private diagnosis. For £29pppm private treatment, excluding cancer, is included, and for £37 there is no excess.
Plans cost the same for everyone aged 16-69, with no long medical questionnaires, just a simple exclusion for pre-existing conditions from the past three years. We believe no other health insurance provider is as simple or transparent in its pricing. There are no sudden hikes at renewal and employees have the option to add their family members and children to the plan.
The business had been growing steadily when coronavirus hit and the team leaned in to accelerate its plans, offering free product access to micro SMEs and launching with a similar offer to the self-employed for the first few months of the pandemic.
In the last year Equipsme has seen 249% premium growth and a 106% renewal retention rate, which effectively means customers who renewed added more employees whilst doing so.
Our research also showed that the number of people who were prepared to pay for private healthcare had doubled since lockdown began in March.
Over the last year, Equipsme team has signed a number of significant distribution partnerships. It partnered with Starling Bank and Simply Business Insurance. Both are scaled-up digital businesses which saw an opportunity to enter health insurance market and chose Equipsme after an extensive process.
Day One value has always been important to Equipsme. Whether that’s Vitamin D and diabetes checks that can be done from home or talking to a GP at the weekend, it’s an insurance product and employee benefit that gets used and the reason for those high renewal rates.
Its efforts have received industry acclaim, beating the likes of Aviva and Vitality to be recognised as Highly Commended in the Best Group Health Insurance category for the Cover Excellence Awards last month, and scooping the Insurtech Start-up Award at the British Insurance Awards last week.
Equipsme has a number of exciting initiatives for income generation in the pipeline, including the use of unique data, profit-sharing with capacity providers and expanding internationally.
Your investment in this crowdfunding round will support Equipsme to continue to develop their user experience, scale their marketing efforts and expand their customer service capabilities – so they can provide the kind of healthcare that makes a difference in the lives of every employee, and the people that depend on them.
To find out more about the investment opportunity, visit the pitch now.