In The Press

Emerald Launch Release – UK’s first full-service insurance provider for the gay and lesbian community launches


The UK’s first full-service insurance provider designed and tailored for the gay and lesbian community launches today, responding to the almost eight in 10 members of the LGBT community (79%) that said they would change the way insurance companies treated them.

A compelling alternative to generic insurance products offered on a ‘one size fits all’ basis, Emerald Life will provide a comprehensive service based on the interplay of:

  • products tailored to the community’s specific needs and circumstances,
  • delivered through a service experience purpose-built for the community, and
  • championing the broader equality and diversity matters that the community faces. 

As the first step in its journey to provide a wide range of financial, legal and lifestyle services, Emerald Life today launches its first insurance products: home, term life, wedding and pet with travel to follow shortly.

At a time when the insurance industry’s focus is on assessing how Solvency II will impact on competition in the marketplace[1] – and when consumers are bracing themselves for further insurance premium hikes[2] – Emerald believes that the LGBT community is still waiting for a basic equality of experience.

New nationwide research for Emerald Life asked the LGBT community what changes they would make it they ran an insurance company for a day:

  • 39% would change call centre language surrounding the assumption of a partner’s gender;
  • 34% would recognise and celebrate LGBT as an important part of the community by depicting real LGBT people in adverts and promotional material;
  • 23% would like to see the LGBT community and its interests represented throughout the organisation;
  • 22% would like to see their insurer actively work to end discrimination and prejudice based on sexuality.

With 2.2 million LGBT adults over the age of 30 potentially buying insurance products in the UK today, Emerald Life has designed an offer that puts them first – insurance for the now. This is based on three areas of concern for the community:

1. Customer experience

For its customers, Emerald is a place where there are no automatic assumptions as to one’s gender or that of a partner, no judgements and no awkward silences on a call. From the real people and stories in Emerald’s ad campaigns, to its expertly trained customer service staff, Emerald has the community at the heart of everything it does.

2. Product design

Emerald’s focus is to create products that work for the community – real solutions for real people in real situations. For example:

  • Emerald’s home insurance is the first to provide legal expenses cover for service provider discrimination based on a customer’s sexuality;
  • HIV+ is not automatically excluded from medical cover in Emerald’s travel or wedding insurance; and
  • Emerald’s wedding insurance covers legal expenses in cases of discriminatory treatment by service providers. None of the top providers for wedding insurance include this in their policies, even in light of recent high-profile cases in the media.

3. Supporting community schemes

Emerald Life will invest time and resources to actively support a range of LGBT community-based initiatives. Already, it is supporting The Albert Kennedy Trust with a rolling internship programme, helping young homeless people from the community with mentoring and work experience. Emerald Chairman Steve Wardlaw is an active Stonewall Ambassador – and the business will also be working with Diversity Role Models, P3 and the Human Dignity Trust in the months ahead.

For full details on Emerald’s products visit today.

Emerald’s products are all available online 24/7 ( and through a specially-trained call centre team, open 7am-9pm, seven days a week (Tel 0330 113 7109). In addition to better serving the LGBT community, Emerald also actively welcomes supporters from the straight community – 47% of whom also believe the insurance industry could do more to better serve the LGBT community [see notes to editors].

Furthermore, the research suggested when it comes to what annoys people about insurance companies, LGBT customers have a much longer list. The LGBT community is just as likely as straight people to think poorly of insurers for a range of general industry issues but, unlike straight people, they are also dealing with additional issues based on sexuality, such as presumption of a partner’s gender.

Top five areas of general concern with insurance companies that UK consumers would change

Stop practice of automatically increasing premiums each year44%44%46%
Write policy docs in plain language44%45%33%
Mispleading promos that carry misleading exclusions in the small print43%44%43%
Stop large bonuses / cap on Exec pay36%36%37%
Settle claims much quicker30%31%29%

Steve Wardlaw, Chairman of Emerald Life commented“For me, it is a matter of serious concern that even in these more enlightened times, the LGBT community does not have true equality of experience in the financial sector. Our community is becoming much more demanding than it used to be – and rightly so. Historically, if you got something that was second best you were left to feel somehow grateful that a provider would even deal with you in the first place. It is hard for big insurers to be nimble and adapt to the subtle and specific things that matter to the LGBT community; they struggle to keep up with the times. We have designed a solution from scratch where our community will know they’ve been thought about from day one.” 

Heidi McCormack, CEO of Emerald Life added: “I am passionate about equality, I am passionate about people being able to be themselves and empowering that. With insurance, it is time to level the playing field. We are redefining the customer experience and prioritising our resources on LGBT focused initiatives that will help us grow with the needs of the community and continually improve our delivery of high quality services. At Emerald, it’s not just about providing a set of insurance products, we want the inequalities we have highlighted become a thing of the past.”

For more information or to arrange interviews contact:

Emerald Communications and Media manager:

James Wharton

07708 131720

Notes to editors

The research was conducted by YouGov in September 2015 and February 2016 among a nat.rep. sample of 1,000 and 2,000 respondents respectively. Further data is available on request.

Almost 8 in 10 (79%) LGBT respondents said they would change the way insurance companies treated the LGBT community. The full list of specific changes mentioned is listed below.

  1. Change call centre language so the opposite sex of partners is not presumed – 39%.
  2. Allow customers to register themselves and partners with appropriate gender title – 35%.
  3. Recognise LGBT as an important part of the community by depicting or celebrating LGBT people in ads and promotional material – 34%.
  4. Have the LGBT community and its interests represented throughout the organisation – 23%.
  5. Actively work to end discrimination and prejudice – 22%.
  6. Offer cover for issues or needs specific to the LGBT community – 17%.
  7. Support LGBT charity or education projects with a donation from annual profits – 15%.
  8. Commission research among the LGBT community to demonstrate a commitment to understand the feelings, needs and views of an important customer segment – 8%.

A significant portion of the straight community  – around one in two (47%) – agreed that the LGBT community could be better served by insurance companies.

  • Allow customers to register themselves and partners with appropriate gender title – 25%.
  • Change call centre language so the opposite sex of partners is not presumed – 21%.
  • Actively work to end discrimination and prejudice -18%.

2.2 million LGBT adults over the age of 30 is based on ONS census results, 2012.

[1] FT 7 February: UK Fears that rules harm insurance competition

 [2] ABI, 17 February: Further rise in Insurance Premium Tax ‘Would Hit Millions of People.’