"Customers want to give us more data"

An interview with Jindřich Lenz, CEO and co-founder of the Czech online life insurance startup Mutumutu

Mutumutu is an online life and income-protection insurance provider. If a policyholder is ill or has an accident, Mutumutu pays them an agreed percentage of their normal income until they can return to work. This is known as “prévoyance” in France. What makes it different, is that its business model is also built around motivating customers to live healthier lives.

We caught up with Jindřich Lenz CEO and co-founder of Mutumutu to find out what the company does differently and how it is helping to revolutionise the world of insurance?

 

What does Mutumutu do differently?

The difference between us and other companies offering the same product is that we offer wider coverage. For example, we cover back pain and mental health issues. If you’re insured with Mutumutu, you don’t have to worry that your insurance won’t cover you when you need it. That’s not our model and it’s not our ethos.

It boils down to some unique and innovative aspects of the company’s business model. The first and most obvious is that we are an online-only company. There are no premises and no network of agents to pay for. And those savings can be passed onto the customer in the form of lower premiums and a more reliable model for paying out when needed.

 

Is there more to the Mutumutu model than just being digital?

 

Absolutely. We want to motivate people to live healthier and better lives. The really ingenious differentiator is the incentive model we use. The Mutumutu app on your phone can connect to most major brands of fitness tracker. And when you do exercise of any kind, the app logs your activity and calculates a rebate on your premium. At the end of each quarter you receive a rebate based on the amount you have exercised during that quarter.

It is important to note that we do not collect or store any information on our customers’ locations or the kind of activity they undertake. If, for instance, a user says she or he is at the gym, the app merely checks against the GPS location of known gyms and ticks a box in its database next to the value “customer visited verified gym”. It doesn’t keep any record about which gym and where.

 

What has been the customer response to sharing this data?

Our data and privacy regimes are very strict. We’re pleased to report that our customers clearly find this reassuring because far from being reluctant to hand over or asking us to collect less data, the request we get most often is for us to take in more customer data. Interestingly, people often sign up to Mutumutu not because they exercise a lot and want to get a rebate — though there are many who do that — but also because they want an incentive to exercise!

The positive response has been particularly overwhelming given what we know about customers’ attitudes to insurance and to the “prévoyance” market. Only 32% of consumers have a contract to cover their income in the case of illness or accident. Twenty percent don’t even know such as thing is possible. And 73% say they have negative feelings about their insurance provider. And yet here we have customers asking us to be a bigger part of their lives and collect more of their data. I think it speaks to the power of the digital incentive model.

 

Do customers use Mutumutu as a way to make positive changes in their lives? 

Yes. Very quickly, many customers become highly engaged in not only tracking their progress but also maximising their rebate. To do this, they need every possible kind of exercise they do logged and acknowledged by the system. We do our best to accommodate this. The fact that customers get something back for taking positive steps to reduce their risk is part of the appeal of our model — and part of our selling point. But it’s also one of the reasons we can offer market-beating prices while also covering conditions that other insurers do not.


How does Mutumutu contribute to the important social responsibility and sustainability priorities?

Mutumutu doesn’t just allow customers to get something back for themselves, we’re also helping them take all-important steps towards others.

There’s a wonderful example that really stands out for me. It is a story of a young woman with two children, who suddenly and unexpectedly had a serious stroke and was paralysed. Mutumutu covered her income, no questions asked, but she also needed specialist equipment that extended far above and beyond what her policy would cover.

We sent out a message to our users, asking them if they wanted to donate some of the rebates they had earned with their exercise credits and contribute to buying this lady a wheelchair. She needed a special wheelchair that would cost €5,000. Mutumutu would put up half, would the customers donate the other half? We were overwhelmed by the response. Within a very short time, the lady had all the money she needed. And even today, we still get messages from customers asking if there’s a charity they can donate their rebates to.
 

Is this something you plan to extend?

Absolutely. This model of charitable giving is part of Mutumutu’s plan for meeting the Societe Generale goal of working with customers to build a better and more sustainable future. It dovetails neatly and naturally with the company’s overall business model, which encourages customers to be healthier and gives them something back when they are.
 

How is Mutumutu affiliated with Societe Generale?

Our relationship with Societe Generale started almost three years ago. We are not a licensed insurance company. And we didn’t want to become one, as we wanted to concentrate on our technology and business model. To operate, we needed a partner who was licensed. Of all the insurance companies we talked to, Societe Generale was the most open to innovation and the most willing to allow us to pursue our business model in a way that would offer the customers the value we wanted to offer. We strengthened our partnership in 2020, when Societe Generale Assurances invested into Mutumutu, enabling us to scale to other markets, starting with France. That made it a really easy decision to partner with Societe Generale and together we are going from strength to strength.

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