Local insurtech firm Root expands to UK

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 16 May 2023
Charlotte Koep, COO of Root.
Charlotte Koep, COO of Root.

South African-based insurtech platform Root has expanded to the UK market.

COO Charlotte Koep says Root’s first foray into global markets is proving encouraging.

Founded in Cape Town in 2016 by CEO Louw Hopley, Root was established to make it easier for companies to achieve their goals of launching new insurance products and embedding their services into modern channels.

“Businesses come up against a lot of technical barriers stopping them from actually achieving those goals. They face actuarial and regulatory barriers, as well as technical roadblocks, in embedding insurance into digital channels,” says Koep.

Root packages the compliance, regulatory and reporting complexities behind application programming interfaces, which allow brands to launch new insurance products.

The platform now has over one million active policies on its platform, with 55 products live and a team of almost 50.

According to the company, brands such as Mr Price, Momentum, Metropolitan, Telkom, GuardRisk, TFG and Sanlam have used Root to take insurance products to their customers faster.

“We’re establishing the business in the UK and building strong distribution partnerships. We find big organisations and we help them add value and create value – and use that to push ourselves into the market. We want to build long-term partnerships with the big players,” says Koep.

Root’s expansion into the UK was a logical next move, she notes, partly due to practical considerations, such as a shared language, strong travel links and a comfortable time zone difference.

The challenges faced by market players in the UK and SA are similar in a regulatory sense, and the market in SA is similar to the UK market, she adds.

“We’ve also been lucky in terms of our timing. There’s been an insurtech wave in the UK for the past six years, where a lot of consumer-centric brands have entered the market, while the larger incumbent insurers have started realising that embedded is a trend they want to play into.”

Koep believes the platform has benefited from the maturity in the UK market. “Market players know what they want even if they need support to achieve it. Insurance companies there have invested a lot in their technology, burnt their fingers experimenting, and they know where the gaps are, what they want and what they don’t want.

“There is a real appetite across the UK insurance market for a platform like ours, which offers both the technical flexibility to support a myriad of product edge-cases and access to modern, accessible and embedded distribution possibilities – and at pace.”

Root’s top focus for 2023 is on doubling down across the UK market and growing the team to support expansion.

“Beyond that, we do have global ambitions, but we’ll take our growth step by step,” says Koep.