If we are asked whether we are concerned about protecting our homes and inventories, the reply will be a resounding yes. But if asked how many of us have actually documented our possessions so that we could ensure their protection, then there will be a very tiny population that would qualify for the category.
There are many cases where lack of documentation of property and will have caused both loss of possession and discord within families.
Let’s take the example of Vishnu Chundi’s uncle, a successful businessman in New Delhi and Dubai, who built property and assets worth crores during his life, but failed to catalogue them. He died all of a sudden at the age of 55, leaving behind uncatalogued assets. It took the family about six months, post the funeral, to locate and understand the nature of all his assets. Besides, distribution of wealth among the family also caused some discord.
Farid Haque’s father is another case in point. The Haque family, over the years, has settled all over the world, with assets in Canada, UK and West Asia. Now, Farid’s father has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which takes a toll on memory and the thought process and many other physical and mental activities. His condition has made it difficult for him and the family to monitor and locate their assets in different parts of the world.
Vishnu and Farid happened to meet during a conference at Cambridge and have been friends for six years, sharing the common problem. As they grappled with it, they realised the enormity of the problem and decided to launch a solution, which would provide people with comprehensive protection of property and assets as well as peace of mind.
In November 2015, they tested AssetVault, a prototype, at London Business School’s FinTech Hackathon.
The platform, which is slated to go live in October this year, will help consumers ascertain whether their insurance protection is adequate or not for their assets. By learning about the consumer’s “home contents” and current policies, the platform’s engine is able to offer them the most appropriate insurance coverage at the optimum price.
“Our mission is to put you in control of your assets and protect them on your terms. The insurance industry is built on people’s fear of losing possessions and ignorance of protection. Everyone has the right to protect their hard-earned assets in a simple and transparent process. We are on the side of the customer and are going to ensure protection with peace of mind,” says Vishnu.
Explaining the functioning of the platform, he adds that one of the ways to do documentation is to enable users to lock up all their physical and digital assets in a private and secure vault. The user gets a real-time value of net worth and performance analytics. Users can then protect these assets through simple digital wills and insurance products. The idea behind launching this platform was to provide comprehensive products to protect people’s assets today and tomorrow.
AssetVault was launched with an initial investment of $120,000 raised from Techstars, a mentorship-driven startup accelerator. It is looking at a subscription-based service and also exploring others.
According to the platform, one of the major metrics that explains the response of users is the worth of insurable assets logged on the platform. In three weeks, £24-million worth of physical and digital assets have been logged.
“We have also tested the product with focus groups across 300 people and now have collected orders of 20 e-wills to be made. We have secured distribution deals with a large global bank and a large media company and our products have the potential to reach more than 4,00,000 paying customers in the coming six months,” says Vishnu.
The platform aims to target successful professional people who are asset-rich and time-poor. It is a comprehensive protection proposition that allows users to protect assets today, through customised home contents insurance; and tomorrow, through the world’s first fully digital e-will.
“We are distributing AssetVault to the end customers of large banks. We have already secured one deal with a large global bank. We will replicate and scale this model with other verticals such as media, telecom and retail,” says Vishnu.
Vishnu says that homes and contents insurance market is worth $9 billion in the UK alone. Globally, the market size is worth $197 billion. In UK, the size of the wills market is £1 billion.
In India, the market for legal and estate planning services stands at about $6.5 billion and has huge scope for such platform to offer services.
After starting off in the UK market, AssetVault plans to expand into other common law countries like India and Hong Kong.
Australia-based Trov, UK-based Collectrium and US-based Willing are the other platforms that are offering content insurance and wills services to people.
Collectrium targets ultra-high net worth individuals and Trov targets mass. Besides, Willing helps users to create online will on its platform.