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Bright Futures

A new life insurance provider offers cover that changes as the needs of its clients change.

Nadine Todd




The entrepreneurs

Leopold Malan, Schalk Malan, Suzanne Stevens and Sean Hanlon spent years in the insurance industry before branching out on their own.

They wanted to radically change the life insurance industry, and while it took them a while to develop exactly what their final product would look like, the Lombard Insurance Group’s team quickly recognised the idea’s potential and came on board as majority shareholder and investment partner.

“They believe in our vision and how we’ve structured the product to offer clients a new option that delivers real value,” says Stevens.

The model

BrightRock focuses exclusively on risk products, from disability cover to life insurance.

“The magic behind what we have created is that each contract is unique. Nothing is generic. Products are chosen based on your specific risk profile, and they change as your situation changes,” explains co-founder Suzanne Stevens.

“When we first started talking about BrightRock we had one common goal in mind: To create a product that fits our clients’ needs, and not the other way around. Insurance tends to be packaged as ‘boxes’ of cover that do not adjust to fit you precisely. We wanted to approach this from a radically different perspective. It’s life insurance that changes as your life changes.”

Related: Success By Design

Making it work

For the product to be simple to understand, all the magic needed to happen in the back-end. “We needed to design a product that gave us the ability to build a very specific policy that matches each client’s needs precisely, without exorbitant costs. It also needed to be simple to understand for non-industry experts. It took us over a year to develop that system.”

Basically, clients tailor their needs across six key financial needs, and they can choose the best pay-out for each need.

”For example, we’re the only insurer to offer clients the option to change their choice of a lump-sum to regular monthly pay-outs at the time when they claim. In addition, as soon as a specific cover is no longer necessary, it falls away. That premium can then be saved, or redirected towards something else.“

The funders

BrightRock is backed by the Lombard Insurance Group, a company with a proud 20-year track record. Lombard’s funding extends to when the business is self-funding. Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurer, is backing BrightRock’s ability to pay claims.

Bringing franchisees on board

The BrightRock distribution model is based on a franchise system. Of the approximately 180 people currently associated with the brand, 100 are owner-operators, or franchisees, in the distribution network and the other 80 are employees.

“We are careful to identify people who share our passion and philosophy when appointing franchisees. We’re doing something very different in an old, established industry, so it takes real belief to make it work.”

What’s in a name?

BrightRock is a company born of this era. “It works because we have embraced, harnessed and integrated digital technology with traditional insurance products. That’s what makes the product work; that it can be affordably tailored to each client — and that’s because of the tech.

“We wanted the name to reflect this, but we also wanted it to be something easy to say, spell, and most importantly, Google. BrightRock reflects who we are: We’re solid, long-term and reliable, but also futuristic, new-age and looking towards a bright future.”

Related: WooThemes: Mark Forrester, Adii Pienaar and Magnus Jepson

A flat CEO structure

All four partners are 24/7 full-time directors, but the company does not have a CEO.

“We believe our team works best with four equal voices. Each of us has different areas of expertise and different perspectives. A collective, collaborative leadership style works for us.

“We spent a long time developing this product together, so we know our values and ideals align and we’ve each left well-established corporate careers to create something of our own. We know that we are always going to make the decision that is best for the business.

“This doesn’t mean we will always agree — we aren’t scared of debate — but we will work until we collectively find the best road forward.“

Vital stats

  • Players: Leopold Malan, Schalk Malan, Suzanne Stevens and Sean Hanlon
  • Company: BrightRock
  • Est: 2011
  • X-factor: Needs-matched life insurance that changes as your life changes.

Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. Find her on Google+.


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