As a practicing rabbi and entrepreneur, Sam Fromson, co-founder and chief operating officer of YuLife, runs his insurtech with empathy, a sense of community and a belief that looking after the wellbeing of employees will result in a more productive workplace.
YuLife, which is headquartered in London, the UK, reflects this outlook. It provides value-added group life insurance policies that come with benefits such as health incentives, allowing employees to earn rewards by completing everyday wellness activities.
This approach is attracting serious backing. YuLife has recently expanded into the US following a $120m series C funding round led by Dai-ichi Life earlier this year, bringing the company’s total funding to $206m since its inception in 2016.
Fintech Intel spoke with Fromson to talk about the company, the US insurance market, and how his career as a rabbi influenced the vision of his insurtech startup.
What inspired you to start YuLife?
In recent years and across industries, there has been a big shift toward health and wellbeing in the workplace, with an increasing number of companies adding such initiatives and mental health support resources to their employee benefits packages.
YuLife was founded to offer companies an easy way to provide extra financial protection that comes bundled with a comprehensive package of wellbeing initiatives, including a gamified app that rewards employees for engaging in health-enhancing behaviours such as walking and meditation.
YuLife’s model was created to be centred around risk prevention and not claims compensation.
What did you want to achieve with the company when you set it up?
YuLife is an insurtech company that has innovated the traditional group insurance model, offering financial protection through insurance, alongside mental, physical and emotional wellbeing benefits that support employee health in the present.
We are the first life insurer to put life first and transform the adversarial ‘win-lose’ model of financial services—by which either the insurer ‘wins’ and the policyholder ‘loses’, or vice versa—into a win-win model that benefits individuals, businesses and society.
What needs can YuLife meet that the existing insurance providers cannot?
Unlike traditional insurance models that pay out in death, YuLife offers health and wellbeing benefits and rewards that are valued and used by employees day to day—resulting in a higher-than-average daily engagement versus traditional employee benefits.
Positive physical and mental lifestyle habits have been shown to reduce unplanned illness-related absences.
More than 67% of eligible employees download and engage with the YuLife app, with over a third of members using the it every single day—compared to just one touchpoint per year for the average insurer.
How does your career as a rabbi influence the decisions you make and vision you have at YuLife?
As both a practicing rabbi and the co-founder of a tech startup, these two careers have taught me numerous key skills and lessons which have helped me thrive in both worlds.
For starters, being an entrepreneur is ultimately about building a community—like the synagogue where I work, which has hundreds of families, who come from all sorts of backgrounds. I must relate to everyone as equals and inspire them to take responsibility for their community.
Similarly, entrepreneurs are part of a wider ecosystem, which I liken to a community. Investors, employees, business partners, clients, and colleagues all have a critical role to play in making the industry ecosystem flourish. No entrepreneur has ever prospered by working alone.
Secondly, understanding the value of empathy has always been essential to my leadership style. It’s a core value that I acquired during my years as a rabbi but which undoubtedly helps me run my company.
In a business context, empathy is hugely compelling, largely thanks to the simple fact that companies that demonstrate care and understanding are more likely to thrive.
You have just launched in the US. How are you expecting the market to react?
Our launch in the US has been in the works for a long time. While the US has the world’s largest insurance market, they have long sought to enhance engagement with their products and provide added value to employees.
At the same time, US employers are struggling to proactively support employees’ health and wellbeing, a trend exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ‘great resignation’.
We believe that there will be considerable demand in the US for YuLife’s holistic employee benefits and wellbeing platform. We look forward to partnering with like-minded companies as we expand into the US market.
Do you think the demand for what YuLife offers has always been in the US? Or is it perhaps something new and a reaction to the pandemic?
The pandemic certainly accelerated the need for wellbeing among workplaces and companies are investing more than ever in workplace wellbeing.
Yet burnout is at an all-time high, which lowers employee retention and harms businesses’ bottom lines.
For too long, engagement policies have focused on transitory perks like happy hours and team outings which don’t actually impact employees’ long-term mental, physical and financial wellbeing.
While the pandemic exacerbated some of these pain points, the need for a service such as YuLife long predates it.
What’s next for YuLife?
We will use our market leadership in game mechanics in financial services to roll out our offering across a wider range of businesses in additional geographies worldwide.
While never deviating from our core goal of using financial products as a vehicle to improve people’s quality of lives, we plan to expand YuLife’s offering to encompass more types of financial and insurance products, tailored to individuals’ needs.