How the UK’s first insurance provider dedicated to diversity and inclusion came into being
Something had been bothering Steve Wardlaw, Emerald Life's co-founder and chairman for years. Regular discussions with friends in the LGBT community had led him to the conclusion that the insurance industry, as a whole, was neglecting the needs of customers that did not fit into a mainstream model - particularly the LGBT community, women and non-traditional families. And it wasn’t just insurance either. The financial services, healthcare, and retirement sectors, Steve found, were equally as clumsy when it came to understanding diverse customers. Small but significant blunders – such as insurance firms assuming that one’s partner would automatically be of the opposite sex – were commonplace, and even expected within the community. For example, most calls to insurers would inevitably reach that awkward moment in which an LGBT customer was forced to come out in order to describe their personal situation.
So Steve and Heidi McCormack, co-founder and CEO, decided to do something about the situation. That something turned into Emerald Life.
The original vision for Emerald Life was - one day - to offer the LGBT community equality in their everyday dealings with finance, health, and retirement. The first rung on the ladder to getting there is Emerald Life’s insurance services for the LGBT community. After launch, Emerald attracted interest from other, sometimes overlapping groups, such as women and those from non-traditional families, who were drawn to Emerald's inclusive ethos. And so Emerald decided to work with these groups as well to advocate for equality in the provision of insurance.
Insurance with community advocacy at its heart
Two years in the making, Emerald Life’s original insurance services were put together meticulously, after countless reworkings and consultations with members of the LGBT community. In Steve’s words, “We wanted to get it right. We wanted to make sure that all parts of the insurance process – website, policies, call-centre scripts – were redone, and make sure that our customer service, our products, and our customer journey was exactly right for our community.” But Heidi and Steve aren’t as over-confident as to assume that they have all the answers just yet. Heidi adds, “For the first time, the LGBT community has been thought about and their needs and wants taken in to account. And, of course, we still want lots of feedback!”. This approach - of testing, asking our target groups for feedback, and tackling often-overlooked details - then worked well when Emerald looked at the issues for women and non-traditional families. And it is a discipline that Emerald promises to maintain.
And what about the ‘important stuff’? While Emerald Life is a young company, the team working on it are no strangers to the world of insurance. An experienced group of insurance specialists advises us on every aspect of our offering. We want to be sure the needs of the communities we serve are always at the heart of what we do.
We’ve partnered with some of the largest names in the UK underwriting market, with UK General – one of the most trusted white label insurers in the country – standing as our principal underwriter. It also goes without saying that we’re regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and Lloyd’s of London to make sure all our actions are carried out with the transparency and integrity that our customers deserve.
Equality of experience
There are little actions or omissions that make the journey for customers that do not fit the mainstream mould just that bit more difficult. With the drive for overall equality in so many other aspects of life, it should certainly be achievable in things as everyday as insurance, health, and retirement. And it can be.
Let Emerald Life show you how.