InsTech’s Tara Allsopp joined Devin Chawda, Co-Founder and CEO of ARMD to discuss ARMD’s ecosystem of protection for tradespeople in the UK, providing tools, insurance and risk management services. The two discussed the importance of providing insurance to traditionally underserved markets, how to offer comprehensive risk management and the value of embedded distribution.
Why did you found ARMD?
I co-founded ARMD following my experience at my previous business, an internet-of-things (IoT) technology company developing smart security systems for home and business owners. Tradespeople would ask me if they could use our smart alarms to protect their tools, however, the products were not designed to work in vans. The original idea was to sell an IoT smart alarm to tradespeople, however, we quickly realised we needed to provide post-loss support, and that is when insurance came in. After conducting market research, it became apparent that more than half of the tradespeople we spoke to had been victims of tool theft, yet less than half had tool insurance. We calculated that the insurance market opportunity to sell tool insurance to tradespeople in the UK was worth over £6 billion.
Can you provide an overview of ARMD?
ARMD seeks to better protect the livelihoods of tradespeople from tool theft. To do this, ARMD provides an ecosystem of products and insurance services, all available on the ARMD mobile app. We say that this ecosystem “completes the loop” because ARMD’s various products and services support tradespeople from when they purchase a tool to when they make a claim. Tradespeople can purchase and record their tools on the ARMD app. ARMD also sells its IoT smart van alarm to actively mitigate risk and provides tool insurance to protect against loss. A key part of what we do at ARMD is to offer both protection and reimbursement in one integrated solution.
Why do tradespeople need insurance?
Tradespeople often feel there is insufficient coverage available for their activities and equipment as they have been historically associated with claims fraud by insurers. This creates a vicious cycle as insurers treat tradespeople poorly, creating mistrust. However, if tradespeople have their tools stolen they cannot work, and it can often take weeks to resolve a claim if it gets resolved at all. Some trades can have over £10,000 worth of tools in a van, if they are robbed once, they are more likely to get hit again as they are seen as easy, profitable targets by thieves. As tradespeople suffer more losses, they become discouraged and may leave the profession entirely.
How do you support tradespeople to manage their risk?
Tradespeople have visibility of all their tools and associated policies on the ARMD app. When a new tool is purchased the policyholder adds it to their inventory on the app alongside pictures to prove their ownership and how much a tool is worth, as well as its indemnity value. If policyholders buy a tool direct from the ARMD tool shop this inventory process is automated.
The ARMD app also has a basic policy management function so customers can view their policies and receive notifications for renewals.
What is the benefit of embedding insurance when purchasing tools?
Trades continually buy tools and visit trade stores most days. To leave the shop or finish an e-commerce purchase knowing your new tools are automatically protected with zero to little effort is not only a great way to better protect the customer, but is also a powerful onboarding approach. If a customer must go elsewhere to buy insurance, they might lose interest, so embedding insurance provides a sales channel for ARMD. Similarly, customers are more likely to purchase insurance from a trusted retailer. Our total sum insurance offering is already live within our own tool shop and this year we have plans to work with third-party tool shops to access a wider customer base.
How else does ARMD distribute its insurance products?
Currently, the team is piloting a partnership with CSL, an IoT connectivity provider, whose customers have over 100,000 vans. ARMD is also working with various trusted retailers and partnering with the likes of Worcester Bosch and Ring. ARMD intends to work with brokers and insurers in the trade sector as another distribution route. The ARMD app and alarm hardware allow them to get into distribution channels that pure insurance simply could not access.
How does ARMD manage claims?
Policyholders manage and submit their first notification of loss (FNOL) through the ARMD app. They select the missing tools from their inventory, enter a crime reference number, details and photos of the damage. ARMD checks these details and sends them to RSA, our capacity provider, for processing. Tool claims often take 5-6 weeks for other insurers to process, however, because ARMD has specialised in these types of claims, the company has a unique 5-day Quick Claim Promise. To date, ARMD’s quickest claim was resolved the next day.
What risk management services is ARMD providing to its clients?
ARMD’s main risk management solution is its smart alarm offering, the ARMD Guard. These smart sensors sit inside a van and will notify the policyholder within 10 seconds if the inside of the van is breached. The smart alarm is a deterrent for opportunistic criminals. If an ARMD sticker is on the customer’s van to indicate it is alarmed, criminals are less likely to attempt a robbery.
The ARMD Guard is not only an alarm but also a tracking device. ARMD can track where a van has gone if it has been stolen, as well as advise if a van is parked in a high-risk area. The latter is particularly useful when conducting mid-term adjustments or managing policy excesses. All this data along with knowing where they park and how often they arm and disarm their vans will allow us to more accurately price risk
How do insurers and brokers benefit from working with ARMD?
Working with ARMD can help improve brokers’ and insurers’ existing offerings to policyholders by providing a specialist, fit-for-purpose tool insurance product. ARMD can help brokers and insurers enter this market profitably by delivering the expertise needed to onboard new policyholders and provide strong customer service and risk management solutions.
How does ARMD decide who to work with?
Potential partners must share the goal of better-protecting tradespeople and have a shared belief in how technology can help address some of the inherent problems associated with this market. ARMD is receiving support from OneAdvent, an MGA services business, providing compliance and back-office support. This has been valuable as the executive team is not from an insurance background.
Lloyd’s syndicates Greenlight Re and MIC Global now provide capacity and investment. Following ARMD’s involvement in the Lloyd’s Lab, we will release a parametric tool hire voucher in partnership with MIC. This voucher is provided as a guarantee to customers, who purchase ARMD’s smart alarm. ARMD is also in the early stages of developing an itemised, embedded tool insurance product with Greenlight Re.
How is ARMD looking to develop its proposition in 2023?
ARMD’s tool hire voucher product will go live in 2023 as well as the embedded tool insurance product. The company is also seeking to build out its insurance offering to provide further protection for tradespeople in areas such as professional liability and income protection.
What support do you need to achieve your goals in 2023?
ARMD is currently in the process of raising capital for its second round of fundraising via Seedrs. We reached our funding target of £700,000 in under 7 days but are keeping it open for a little longer, so it is not too late to invest. For more information, the link to the page is here: https://www.seedrs.com/armd1/ or reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.