Try asking someone whether car insurance should be charged on how many kilometres you drive. If our experience is anything to go by, they’ll say: “Of course, why has no-one done it before?”
At Insurtech Gateway Australia, we don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that KOBA Insurance represents a watershed moment for car insurance in Australia.
KOBA was founded by Andrew Wong, former Global Digital IT Director at Reckitt Benckiser. As with many great ideas, KOBA emerged from personal experience. Living and working in San Francisco, Andrew realised that he rarely drove his car and that usage-based insurance, or what KOBA calls pay-per-km, while incredibly successful in the UK, was not yet something that existed in a new digital form in Australia.
Moving his family back to Australia, Andrew set about turning the plan into a reality. By this stage, his idea became even more apparent during the pandemic – why was everyone paying the same for car insurance when they weren’t driving anywhere? As soon as we met the team, we wanted to get on board and support the company based on the strength of Andrew, his top-class team and a thesis that the Australian market was ready.
This top-class team includes industry professionals Don Rossell, who helped launch Toyota Aioi in Australia and is the former GM of Insurance and Retail for Toyota Finance; as well as Nick Bell, who wrote the original business case for Bingle.com, Suncorp’s digital first brand, and led America’s powerhouse brand, Progressive, in its Australian product launch.
KOBA fundamentally understands the insurance landscape and we believe this is one of the major differentiators between KOBA and other global UBI start-ups. KOBA is not a tech company trying to solve insurance problems, rather they are a group of experienced insurance professionals, using tech to firm up their competitive advantage.
Insurtech Gateway Australia has helped KOBA get on the road. Not only have we provided seed funding, venture building services and various introductions, it was through our parent company Insurtech Gateway UK that we were able to introduce Andrew to the By Bits team and the tech for pay per km. By Bits is the software solution behind the successful UK pay per mile car insurer By Miles.
This partnership and connection has produced a compelling choice for consumers when considering their motor insurance provider. Genuine product innovation in insurance is rare.
KOBA will charge drivers an upfront fixed cost to cover their car while parked, then a few cents per kilometre they drive, which is calculated at the end of each month. Distances travelled are automatically calculated by a match-box sized device, the KOBA Rider, easily plugged in under the dashboard and linked to KOBA’s smartphone app.
All the typical insurance risk measures apply, such as age and driving record, but those driving under the Australian average of 12,600km/year could save with pay-per-km insurance.
As a young insurance startup, KOBA is also looking to transform their relationship with customers, offering additional services at useful touchpoints.
In addition to displaying updated costs of a driver’s insurance, the KOBA app makes it easy to work out the insurance cost for occasional long road trips in advance. The insurance price of big trips will be capped at 250km/day, or 1,750km per month.
Customers also have the convenience of a simple one-touch payment process and the ability to notify KOBA of a claim. KOBA also plans on building additional future policy holder benefits. For example, in the future, KOBA may recognise if a vehicle has been involved in an accident, and if the impact is severe enough automatically call emergency services. It might also provide a digital mechanic health check-up for vehicles and inform the owner, or service partner, and may even host an in-built ‘find my car’ function for when you’ve forgotten where you’ve parked, or making it simple for authorities to recover stolen vehicles.
KOBA has come a long way already, but the transformation of car insurance has only just begun here in Australia.
At Gateway Australia, we are really proud to have had a role in making this vision become a reality and though our work with KOBA we have found that the keys to success really are;
- The right people. Andrew’s enthusiasm, passion and adaptability are the core characteristics that appeal to investors, insurers and partners. His never say never attitude is what makes him the ultimate entrepreneur.
- The right network. You never know when a simple intro will turn into a ground breaking, business changing result.
- The right timing. KOBA has been born during what we call a “Black Swan” event. People are ready for change, businesses are ready to embrace change. Without the winds of change, some ideas will never make it past the start line.
- Never underestimate the value of moral support. Founding a business and bringing a disruptive idea to market can be a lonely and weary journey, particularly if you don’t have the right support around you. At Insurtech Gateway Australia, we provide our founders with a shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen, a word of advice and sometimes that’s worth more than all the money in the world.
But by far the biggest learning from our incubation of KOBA is that
today represents a unique opportunity
We have endured a life changing event (a global pandemic) and are facing some of the biggest challenges in human history (climate change).The world is ready for big ideas; new products that align with the reality of the new world. Email us today for a chat – we are continually on the lookout for startup teams with a passion and a disruptive idea like KOBA!