The insurtech, founded in the days before the term was fashionable, says it offers a different service to pet owners


When Bought By Many was founded in 2012 the term ‘insurtech’ didn’t exist. The technology-driven company claims to be the only the firm offering health insurance for pets with pre-existing medical conditions.

In January the company, currently only operating in the UK, almost doubled its subscription target, with the third week of that month its busiest ever. 

However, Steven Mendel, chief executive and co-founder at Bought By Many, told Insurance Times the business will expand into Sweden with new products this month.

Mendel said Sweden would provide a bridge to the Continent post-Brexit. Also, Sweden has the highest penetration of pet insurance worldwide. That’s because pet insurance was invented there, he added. 

The first policy for a dog was written in Sweden in 1924. Today around 50% of all dogs in Sweden are insured. In comparison, the first pet insurance policy was sold in Britain in 1947.

Insurtech before the word existed

On whether the business is an insurtech, Mendel said: “We pre-date that word by some significant time.” The term is a fintech subsector which applies technology to insurance. The niche began growing in 2013 after a Berlin start-up called Friendsurance founded the first peer-to-peer network in 2010.

Mendel said: “We use tech as an enabler to create better insurance experiences, and wherever we can find a tech solution to a consumer problem, we will.”

The name Bought By Many, he said, reflects “the idea that people have joined together with one voice”.

This is illustrated by the firm’s logo, which is a speech bubble with several people inside it that have the same need, but speak this need together.

The business was born six and a half years ago when Mendel left Close Brothers and wanted to transfer his health insurance policy into his name. The challenge this entailed sparked the idea of enabling people to come together to get bigger buying power. 

Mendel defines “better insurance” as three-fold: a good product that is reasonably priced while offering a suitable customer experience. He built the business according to these three core agendas.

“But part of our story is about enabling pet owners who have not bought pet insurance before to buy it for the first time,” he said. He added that only one in three pet owners insure their animals in the UK. 

Taking on the incumbents 

Mendel said it was about servicing a sector that had offered poor customer experience, and two insurers dominating the lion’s share of the market.

“It was our opportunity to do things differently such as creating new products designed by consumers. It’s very much about building around consumer requirements.

“There are many problems with the pet insurance sector, the product design has not changed for many years, the customer experience at the point of claim and overall is poor,” he added.

The insurtech does not ask questions on application, instead it asks a potential policyholder to complete sentences such as “I have a pet named …”

Its policy document has fewer than half the average amount of words found in other insurers’ documents. But in the early days Mendel said this model had challenges, with insurers tied up with legacy systems and having little flexibility as a result. 

Originally, the business built communities using social media skills and found insurers to target those niche segments, negotiating with them to get customers a better price. Mendel and chief technology officer/co-founder Guy Farley launched their own branded products in 2017 with this in mind.

Bought By Many says it has the only pet insurance online claims system. Snap Claims allows users to take upload a photo of a vet’s invoice to the platform. The policyholder is kept up-to-date via text. In December last year 50% of all its claims were made online. 

Mendel said he believes that listening to its customers has facilitated the insurtech’s popularity. And while he loves positive reviews, he also reads the negative ones as he is always looking at ways to improve the business.