Jim Duffy: New insurance breathes life into your ‘deathwish’

A new kind of insurer has set out to re-imagine what life insurance should be like, says Duffy. Picture: Ian Howarth.
A new kind of insurer has set out to re-imagine what life insurance should be like, says Duffy. Picture: Ian Howarth.
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‘It’s an Equitable Life, Henry” always sticks in my mind as one of those life policy advertising campaigns that made life products boring. Life assurance was always viewed as a starchy subject. One best discussed in a lawyer’s office or with your financial adviser. And, of course, when taking out a mortgage, the lender wants to know that, if you pop your clogs, there is a policy in place to pay off the loan. The subject of life insurance, dying and how much the “sum assured” should be always left me void of emotion and a trifle disinterested. After all, when you’re dead, what do you care? Well, that is up until now.

Two of my younger friends (they will love that) opened up my mind to life policies in the 21st century. No longer the realm of tedious form filling, checks to see how well you are and a million get-out clauses. No longer the fear of the unknown and mysterious world of the number crunching actuary hidden away in the bowels of the big insurance companies, frequented by characters that resemble those in the Harry Potter movies. And no more wondering how the heck that monthly premium was calculated and how much of it was fees and commission. Welcome to DeadHappy.

A new kind of insurer, with backers including Octopus Ventures, DeadHappy has set out to re-imagine what life insurance should be like for the 20, 30 and 40-somethings. Although not entirely accurate, as it isn’t for anyone, it feels fresh and younger in its approach. Why? Instead of asking how much I will need when I die, which always feels life a non-sequitur to me, it asks me for my “deathwish”.

This is where the traditional approach, albeit not wrong in any way, becomes less appealing. I get to choose what I want the money for and who I want to benefit. For example, I can say I want a big party in Ibiza and name who I want to be there. This could be friends, family – anyone I want. Although, I guess they cannot be compelled to come. Their loss… So, I’ll need to pay for the tickets, the accommodation, the spending money, the food and, of course, my going away party. Right now, I have 20 people there at £5,000 a head. No scrimping at my party! That’s £100,000. And the best part is, that is just my first deathwish. I can add as many as I want.

My eldest daughter gets her black Range Rover, while my youngest gets her white Porsche Cayenne. Add in fuel and running costs for three years and there goes another £200,000. And so the fun goes on. My chums had multiple deathwishes including parties, gifts for friends, experiences for others and lovely surprises that they could dole out from the grave.

No big form filling exercise either when entering the online deathwish. Only four questions based on trust and an acceptance by me that the policy is a ten-year rollover gig where I will have to update my info on these four questions. Sounds fair and reasonable. What I love about this bit is the forthright manner in which I am told the deal and, of course, the deal breakers. No point in telling fibs as I’ll get caught out and my pals will miss out on that wonderful all-expenses paid holiday. So, when DeadHappy makes it clear that it ain’t paying out if “you don’t tell us the truth”, then the onus is on me to be square with them. I do like this “we are in it together” approach.

I’ve never seen such an inspirational methodology for punting life insurance. Of course, other suppliers are out there and you can insure with whom you wish. My friends are using DeadHappy and letting their friends know all about it. What a terrific way to get free advertising, the best, actually: word of mouth.

Will it all end in tears in years to come with DeadHappy not doing what it says on the tin? I may not be around to find out. But, I’m happy for now that I’m throwing a big party for a lucky 20 people, where some nice surprises will be announced. And I do know that at least one of my friends has invited me to hers. I’ll raise a glass for her, then.

- Jim Duffy MBE, Create Special.