Earlier this year, Mr Price Money fully migrated their insurance book onto Root. Now, they are ready to tap into all the benefits that come with an end-to-end digital insurance platform. The first step has been to expand their new, successfully piloted, in-store tablet app to sell device cover in 250 stores throughout South Africa.

This partnership between Root and Mr Price was driven by the Mr Price team’s decision to find a permanent solution for keeping up with the insurance industry’s ever-evolving compliance requirements. Against this background, they started looking at various insurance-specific systems. They needed an affordable and trustworthy solution, but also one with advanced technology that would allow them to rapidly innovate and focus on building customer-centric experiences.

Here’s how it all happened: from launching a proof of concept (POC), to executing a full migration, and building a strong and fruitful partnership that drives business growth and innovation.

Working from POC to migrating a massive insurance book

Running an insurance operation requires a lot of heavy lifting; insurance is a highly regulated and complicated industry. Staying compliant while providing good service and innovative product offerings to customers can be even more taxing if insurance is not your core business – as is the case for Mr Price and other affinity players.

“It’s very challenging to keep up with the regulatory aspects if insurance is not your core business – it changes all the time,” says Vince Holtzhausen, Commercial Director at Mr Price. “So far, we’ve been running on an in-house system. It’s been built out over time, but that means we don’t have a lot of engineers who know all the ins and outs of it. Keeping up with compliance requirements became too expensive. It didn’t make sense for us to continue doing it in-house. We wanted an external solution.”

Vince and his team considered many options, but found them all wanting. “The solutions in the market were really uninspiring. Everything was clearly cumbersome and old school – just another reporting system. We were looking for that x-factor – that’s what we needed. When we eventually found Root, it was very obvious that it was in a different league. It ticked all our boxes.”

Mr Price’s team was keen to take Root for a test run and get a real feel for the platform. To do this, they decided to build a new product on Root that would serve as a POC.

“Root told us they could deliver a POC within 4 weeks. In my experience, that kind of speed was unheard of; it couldn’t be real. In the end, Root was ready to rock and roll within 2-3 weeks of that commitment. The POC was incredible. It showed me what Root’s platform and team was capable of.”

The POC was successfully launched, and tested in the market for 6 months. At the end of that period, they were satisfied with what Root was capable of. “It solved all our compliance and reporting needs, the innovation functionality was there, and speed to market was clearly proven. We wanted Root,” says Holtzhausen.

Mr Price was ready to make the move: migrating 3 million policies to the Root platform, with over a third of these policies active at the time.

Building a long-term strategic partnership

Adopting an end-to-end digital insurance platform is a big decision. It is a long-term relationship by design, and choosing the right partner matters a lot. In order to enable the business value they were after, Mr Price wanted their technology partner to be easy to use and integrate with, provide the necessary training to their teams, and deliver outstanding customer support.

“Obviously, the idea of moving an entire portfolio can be a little nerve-wracking, but honestly, I wasn’t too worried,” says Holtzhausen. “I was convinced that we wanted the full functionality of Root, and the POC showed me what Louw and his team was capable of, and how they work. They have their finger on the pulse all the time. I had a lot of trust in the migration process.”

On the Mr Price side, it was Theo Ngoma, Portfolio Manager at Mr Price, who headed up the migration. She worked side-by-side with the Root team – including a few all-nighters.

“Working with Root on the migration was such a pleasure,” noted Ngoma. “A lot of time was invested to understand our business and systems. They have such an in-depth understanding of me as a customer. They are truly customer-centric at their core, and I think it is one of their biggest assets as a business.”

Although the Root team was onsite at the Durban-based Mr Price headquarters for the critical phases of the migration, big parts of the project were managed remotely using Slack and Zoom. “It was the first time I had to deal with a supplier who was not geographically in the same location. But it worked so well!” Ngoma says. “The Root migration really trained me for COVID-19. There were a lot of meetings that were held via virtual environments. And when something went wrong, we could just call or message the Root team, and it got solved.”

The actual migration to a new system was only one step in the process. The other step was to ensure that all business divisions affected by the migration were sufficiently trained and equipped.

“The past few months felt like a massive team effort between Root and us,” Holtzhausen says. “If you speak to the people on the ground, they give the exact same feedback. Everyone enjoyed the fact that there were proper workshops for every part of the business, proper training, and Root actually listened to the requirements we had.”

Driving business growth and innovation

With the bulk of the groundwork behind them, the Mr Price team is now ready to reap the full rewards of Root.

Their claims teams are already benefiting from the optimised claims processes and workflows made possible by Root’s tooling. In addition to that, they’ve started unlocking a new customer base by way of an in-store, tablet app to sell device cover. The app has been piloted in 20 stores, and will soon be rolled out to 250 stores throughout South Africa.

“This product is powered by Root in its entirety,” says Ngoma. “I don’t know how we would’ve done it without Root. The platform made it trivial for us to launch a product to cash customers because it supports all different payment methods.”

Mr Price will continue to leverage the Root APIs to build more great customer experiences. For now, their focus is on making a range of affordable, insurance products directly accessible to their customers in stores across South Africa.