Supercover against the superbad

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The insurance industry; brings about a sense of distrust and sharp practice, doesn’t it? Well mobile phone and gadget insurer Supercover Insurance claims to buck the stereotype.

London based Supercover acknowledges insurance is an industry historically associated with “difficulty” and “confusion”. But it claims a straightforward proposition, managed fairly, and suggests the consumer electronics industry offers ever-greater business opportunities to it and its partners.

Its recent financials back up that claim: turnover of £2.5 million and a net profit of £400,000. Considering it doesn’t actually sell any kit, anything physical to speak of, it’s a decent margin, suggests managing director Carmi Korine (pictured).

But such is the public demand for personal and portable consumer electronics these days, and the muggers’ pension they represent, that insurance cover is a significant business.

Korine cites recent statistics from Zurich Insurance: the average person in the UK carries approximately £851 worth of handheld gadgets with them everyday. In London, the figure rises to £1,034, he suggests.

“People carry a laptop, an MP3 player, a mobile phone, maybe a SatNav; there is a huge amount of value there,” says Korine.

Combined with that, the value of devices has gone up because the economy has slipped, and consumers are finding money harder to come by and upgrades rarer. Awareness of crime has also gone up.

Korine says Supercover has seen a 90 per cent increase in claims for theft since December 2008, which has provoked an increased demand to insure items of value.

Supercover works almost entirely as a white-label service, allowing “hundreds” of partners to rebrand and resell its product – it claims to underwrite the policies of seven of the top 10 mobile phone insurers that come up on a Google search.

Its original sales channel, however, is independent mobile dealers. It started life as ‘Mobile Phone Supercover’ 15 years ago, but dropped its forenames five years ago to stretch itself.

Around 60 dealers, including major Welsh retail chain Get Connected, have signed up to sell Supercover under their own brands. Distributor 20:20 Mobile resells its cover under its brand via its dealer base.

20:20 is also a supplier to it; Supercover issues replacement stock to its reseller partners via 20:20, as well as Brightpoint and Brightstar. It also works with manufacturers directly, when distribution relationships are not otherwise in place or stock in the channel runs short.

Full article in Mobile News issue 445 (August 10, 2009).

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