PIKL SELECTED FOR PRESTIGIOUS TECH NATION FINTECH 3.0 PROGRAMME

This is the first year that insurtech companies have been eligible for the Fintech programme so it is even more prestigious that Pikl is in the first wave to be chosen. And, in recognition of the impact Pikl has made to the industry over the last three years, Founder and CEO, Louise Birritteri, has been invited to join the Tech Nation Board.

Fintech 3.0 is a growth programme run by Tech Nation for the best and brightest UK fintech and insurtech companies. It is designed to provide company leaders with the coaching, content and community they need to scale up, bringing together a network of purposeful founders and philanthropists, progressive enterprises and policymakers, influential funds and institutions in order to collaborate in building the technological innovation that will improve the future for the UK and beyond. Now in its third year, it was the first sector-specific growth programme that has been run with the two previous years’ having proved to be immensely successful.

Tech Nation’s aim is to fuel the growth of game-changing founders, leaders and scaling companies so they can positively transform societies and economies. The majority (around 80%) of its funding comes from the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), which in 2019 was £7.1m. The rest is generated from sponsorship and paid-for educational programmes.

“We are delighted to have been selected. The competition to get on the Fintech 3.0 programme is fierce with hundreds of companies applying. This programme will definitely help us to scale up rapidly to take advantage of the growing market for sharing economy insurance.  There is a great deal of value to be gained from it especially getting to access to mentors who have been successful in scaling their businesses, expert training, invitations to join Government trade missions and building our profile nationally and internationally. I can’t wait to get going. And, to be invited to join the Tech Nation Board is a real privilege for which I am truly grateful.”

Louise Birritteri, Founder and CEO of Pikl

Pikl is one of only two companies from the East of England to have been selected and the only one in Norfolk.

“The UK’s fintech ecosystem is world-leading and as it matures further we are seeing a growing amount of fintech scale-ups. These companies have already achieved some incredible things and are targeting accelerated growth both domestically and internationally. Tech Nation’s Fintech programme supports companies like these to connect with other fintechs at a similar stage, learn from experts and expand their network. It’s a unique and valuable opportunity to learn in an open and intimate setting.”

Liam Gray, Programme Lead, Fintech

Tech Nation’s mission is to unlock the growth potential of 1,000 scaling tech leadership teams across the UK by 2022. Over the past five years, Tech Nation programmes have engaged nearly 2,000 businesses, including 600 companies via its growth programmes, already contributing more than £425m of Gross Value Add (GVA) for the UK economy. Last year’s Fintech programme cohort included Credit Kudos, PrimaryBid, Honcho Markets, ANNA Money and Goodbox.

To apply for the programme, companies had to fulfil certain criteria:

  • Be headquartered in the UK
  • Be a fintech or insurtech company
  • Be at the equivalent of Seed to Series A funding stage (If the company is self-funded, maximum annual revenues are £1.5m. Companies having raised series A can apply until a maximum of 3 months after they closed the round).
  • Offer a product or service to businesses and/or individuals (B2B businesses must have at least one active client or pilot. B2C businesses must have a product fully deployed in market already – no beta) 

New MGA Partnership

Pikl’s announces it’s new MGA, in partnership with First Underwriting, Accredited Insurance, and the Claims Consortium Group.

The partnership has been set up to provide Pikl with flexible underwriting capacity for a range of property and vehicle products. It will enable Pikl to operate a nimble product development approach allowing products to potentially be brought to market in weeks.

The “A” rated capacity will be provided by Accredited Insurance (Europe) limited, who have operations based in London, Malta and the US.  They are a subsidiary of Randall & Quilter Holdings (R&Q). This capacity will be accessed through Accredited’s relationship with First Underwriting.

Pikl will work closely with First Underwriting to develop and refine a range of new and existing solutions for the sharing economy, leveraging the expertise of the respective teams. This partnership will complement the existing partnership Pikl announced last year with Hiscox.

“I am delighted that we have launched the MGA and partnership with a group of credible and respected operators in the insurance sector. Both the teams at Pikl and First Underwriting have a great deal of insurance expertise and our collective skill sets will provide a powerful combination as we continue to scale. As we enter the next stage of our journey it was incredibly important for us to find the right partners who could work flexibly and at pace.”

“Our ambition is to be the market leader for Sharing Economy insurance products in both the property and vehicle lines. Our learnings from working in the property sharing market over the past three years has prepared us well to enter the vehicle sharing sector later this year. Thanks to the teams in both companies, this partnership will give us the complete flexibility we need to continue to be first to market with bespoke propositions for emerging markets.”

Louise Birritteri CEO and Founder Pikl

“We’re delighted to be partnering with Pikl who are developing innovative insurance products to cater for the growing and specialist needs of the sharing economy. It’s certainly a very exciting part of the insurance market that presents new and interesting challenges for insurers. Working with Pikl means that we have a partner that genuinely understands its chosen markets and will be well positioned to make the most of the opportunities it will present.”

Mark Bacon, Managing Director of First Underwriting

Claims Management will be handled by the Claims Consortium Group who are known for their flexible and bespoke claims software solutions and these products will launch with the Group’s custom ENOL solution.

“We are pleased to be working with Pikl and First Underwriting through our TPA offering, combining our collective expertise to deliver bespoke and specialist products to the market and the customer. We believe the future of claims is using innovative technologies to offer flexible solutions that suit the lifestyle of the modern customer and partnerships like this facilitate that.’

Jeremy Hyams, CEO and Founder of Claims Consortium

Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Property.

This is the first in a series of articles in our ‘Getting back to normal’ series where we look at the measures you can take to get your short let, Airbnb listing or holiday let business back on track in the midst of this pandemic. Whilst the short-term letting industry patiently awaits the green light for the hospitality sector to be allowed to resume in the UK, new cleaning protocols are being implemented to ensure properties are kept virus-free to minimise the chance of spreading infection. With uncertainty around travel restrictions abroad it is widely reported that there will be a boost in ‘staycations’ following the Covid-19 lockdown, with people opting for short term holiday breaks within the UK. Now is the time for hosts to take steps to ensure they have sufficient measures in place to protect themselves. Here at Pikl we have researched some top tips for you to offer support and guidance during these unprecedented times.

When your guests start arriving again, it is imperative that you reassure them that the property will be correctly cleaned for their stay. A whole host of information relating to cleaning protocols and sanitisation techniques can be found online, however we hope you find this quick summary helpful.

  • The government’s website is a good starting point to keep up to date with the latest information. Check out their page on cleaning for non-healthcare settings including tips on how to clean using the right disinfectant.
  • Airbnb also has some useful information on cleaning protocols. You can use their checklist as a handy guide to make sure your cleaning protocols are consistent.
  • Give yourself enough time to clean your property thoroughly before the next guest arrives, which means you probably do not want to book guests on back to back days. A good time to allow in between guests is 3 days, giving you enough time to go over the property thoroughly and address any problems. This may mean less income but until the crisis is under control, being thorough can help reduce the changes of people (yourself included) becoming infected. All surfaces that guests encounter must be disinfected and be careful not to overlook “high-touch” areas such as door handles and light switches. Avoid making splashes when cleaning with liquids as this may spread any contaminated areas onto new surfaces.
  • Do not forget about cleaning upholstery in the property and pay special consideration to rugs, sofa covers, curtains and other porous fabrics when cleaning. Take care to remove any visible dirt and use appropriate cleaning products, and where possible cover the furniture with washable sheets. Keep the property well ventilated by opening windows when cleaning.
  • Help your guests whilst they stay in your property by providing hand sanitiser in each room to encourage guests to sanitise as they move around the house. Hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol is considered to be the most effective.  By also ensuring that your property is stocked with items such as disposable gloves, paper towels and tissues you can help to reduce the risk of contamination.
  • When you leave the property after cleaning, ensure that the entry areas are appropriately cleaned, including keys or keypads. If you are looking to minimise person to person contact, you could offer guests self-check-in or checkout options. The installation of smart locks where you give your guest a code to get in or key safes are possible ways of doing this.
  • When your listing is active again, be sure to make potential guests aware of your cleaning protocols. Clean properties may give guests confidence in booking your accommodation and help build trust.
  • When thinking about cleaning, do not forget about your own safety. Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water once you are finished. You may want to have hand sanitiser on you in case this option is not available.

During the pandemic there will naturally be a strong focus on sanitisation and cleaning initiatives. Taking these into consideration will help to regain the confidence of guests when bookings resume. You may find that guests will be anxious about travelling after lockdown and want to know what you have done to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. Robust cleaning protocols will reassure your guests that you value their health and safety whilst they stay in your property.

Supporting Our NHS

Pikl are pleased to announce that we have launched an offer of free insurance cover for hosts who are making their properties available to NHS workers through the NHS Homes scheme, during the COVID-19 virus outbreak.

The NHS Homes scheme has been set up by the UK Short Term Accommodation Association (STAA) to provide free accommodation to key NHS workers, enabling them to stay close to the hospitals where they work. A number of property and hospitality companies that manage properties rented out by their customers have made hundreds of properties available for NHS workers to stay in.

The level of demand has been huge; to date, more than 500 properties have been booked by NHS staff.

Pikl is now offering free 90 day insurance cover to eligible customers who are housing NHS workers free of charge through the NHS Homes scheme.

Pikl CEO and founder, Louise Birritteri, said: “We all want to do our bit to support the phenomenal work that NHS staff are doing. The NHS Homes scheme is a great example of the short-term let industry coming together to offer practical and much needed help, so it was natural for us to say thank you to those homeowners who have pledged their properties to the scheme to offer them free insurance for the period that it’s likely to run. The cover will give homeowners the peace of mind that if any accidental damage, injury or loss occurs in their property, whilst NHS workers are staying, they will not be out of pocket.”

If you are a homeowner that is participating in the NHS Homes scheme and would like to apply for the free cover, you can find out more by clicking on the Pikl link provided on the NHS Homes website www.nhshomes.co.uk

Pikl appoint Stuart Reid as chairman.

We are pleased to announce that Pikl has appointed former Bluefin and Gallagher boss Stuart Reid as chairman. Stuart most recently worked as UK retail chief executive officer at Gallagher, a role he left in October 2016.

Stuart will focus on sharing his experience and provide leadership to the board to help with the Pikl’s growth strategy and to help raise the profile of the need for specialist short-term letting insurance with consumers as well as the wider insurance industry.

He started his career in broking at Bishop Skinner before setting up Stuart Alexander in 1993. In 2005 he became managing director after buying out his partner. The company sold to Axa in 2007 and he was appointed CEO of the Bluefin Insurance Group in January 2008. He left Bluefin to join Gallagher in April 2015. Stuart has also been vice president of the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) and chair of the CII Broking Faculty from 2012 to 2018. He was deputy chairman of the British Insurance Brokers Association from 2014 to 2015. Reid, who has previously said he left Gallagher because he was not approved by the FCA, has been contemplating a return to the market since he was exonerated by the regulator in 2017. Stuart is also is well-known to the sharing economy market, having been involved with lobbying efforts that included representing the insurance industry at sharing economy talks and chairing meetings held at 10 Downing Street in 2014.

Stuart commented: “Being at the forefront of innovation in our industry is where I love to be and, with Pikl’s innovative products and approach to a new and blossoming market, I cannot wait to get started. “Without doubt, Pikl has identified a clear gap in the market. It not only has superb commercial potential but will also make a real difference to the millions of people who rent out their rooms, whole properties or even car parking spaces, effectively ring-fencing the valuable income they receive from the risk of theft, damage or liability.”

He explained that his main business focus for the next 12 months will be to provide a link between the board and the senior management to ensure that the strategy is carried out successfully. In addition, Reid said he will be speaking to brokers to “make sure they understand the business opportunities there are for getting into this sector of the market.”

Pikl CEO and founder, Louise Birritteri, said: “It’s a fantastic coup to have secured Stuart’s support. I have known him for many years and believe he will bring so much experience to the Board role, in helping to formulate and execute our strategy and obviously to take full advantage of his many industry contacts built up over his 30 plus years in the industry. “This is another significant step in the rapid growth of Pikl and provides us with the expertise and insight we need to scale up.”

Coronavirus (Covid-19 Update)

The spread of the Coronavirus is fast-moving and is disrupting life for many of us. We are closely following the advice from the government and Chief Medical Officer. As a regulated business we have a regularly reviewed business continuity plan. This has been updated in light of the current circumstances. 

Our Service

The Pikl team will be working from home as of 17th March 2020 until further notice. Being primarily an online and phone-based business, customers can still contact us as normal if they need advice, to buy one of our products or help with a claim – we plan to be providing a full service to customers during this exceptional time.

We are employing video and phone meetings as far as possible for contact with our business partners and are only having face to face meetings in exceptional circumstances.

Your Pikl insurance policy

We wish to point out that our products are not designed to cover the insurance perils associated with this Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, therefore your products do not provide any cover for: 

  • Guest cancellation
  • Property deep cleaning
  • Liability for transmitting any contagious or infectious disease, virus or illness

Guest Cancellation

We suggest that hosts check on their booking or marketing agent’s website in the first instance to check the stance on cancellation policies for booked stays. Guests should be directed to follow government advice here for further information.

As a business primarily working in a market closely linked to tourism, we are expecting to see a considerable knock on impact on our customers’ needs over at least the next 6 months. We have already seen consumers cancelling pre-booked holidays and delaying booking new holidays and this will no doubt have a large financial impact on those individuals and businesses who manage short-term lettings. We are watching keenly to see how the government will respond to support the short let market to ensure businesses can survive the current climate. 

Take care and keep safe

The Pikl Team

An app that can help you with your tax return

More and more of us are topping up our income by offering a spare room or a temporarily vacant home to holidaymakers or business travellers through Airbnb. In just twelve short years, Airbnb has grown to become a ubiquitous part of 21st century travel and now around 8.4 million travellers a year to the UK book through Airbnb.

A nice little earner if you’re lucky enough to have a spare room in the right location – and that’s not just in major cities and popular holiday spots. But (and there’s usually a but) there are tax rules you do need to be aware of. 

If you are a host on Airbnb, you may have to declare your income. With the 31st January self-assessment deadline fast approaching, many Airbnb’ers may be scrambling to complete their tax returns (If you aren’t sure about taxes and Airbnb, check out Airbnb’s own tax guide).    

Thankfully, there’s also a new app that can help take the confusion away.

Untie your tax return

The ‘United’ personal tax app makes it easy to stay on top of your Airbnb income and expenses, prompting you to pay exactly what you owe and claim any tax relief you might be entitled to. It’s quick to use, automating repetitive tasks, freeing up time that frankly no one should want to spend on their taxes. You can save even more time by using the app to submit your end of year self-assessment to HMRC directly from your mobile phone.

You can download the Untied app on the Apple or Google app store.

Let’s NOT get the party started

A big part of letting out your property or room is built around TRUST, which is why we recently saw Airbnb improving their new guest standards and party house bans to help protect hosts, guests, and communities.

However, even with these continued improvements in standards and guest verification, hosts should still ensure their most treasured possessions are adequately covered and have a specialist insurance policy in place.

A good example of this was covered in a recent article by the Metro, which highlighted an Airbnb property being let out in London to a supposed family of four, only for the host to find over 500 people went to their property for a private party.  Unfortunately, the party escalated and resulted in the property having over £450k of property damage and progressed into a legal case with Airbnb. Thankfully no-one was injured but Airbnb de-listed the property and cancelled bookings at the property leading to a loss of earnings for the host whilst the property was being repaired.

Although, these instances are rare and in this particular case had a large claim cost, the even smaller property claims can soon add up to £1,000’s and also have an impact on earnings whilst the property is being repaired or items replaced. 

Elsewhere, we have discussed before the pros and cons of the protection that Airbnb gives its hosts if something goes wrong. Although they do offer some cover, it is important as a host you are aware of the protection they give you versus having a specialist host insurance policy in place.

Many hosts will also perceive their traditional household insurance policy will cover them for any damages that are guest-related, however,following our research in 2019 * 100% of insurers in the UK will not cover damages caused by guests if you have not previously informed them of hosting at the property. At Pikl we specialise at providing insurance solutions for the sharing economy and in particular, short term letting on platforms such as Airbnb, booking.com and HomeAway. Our range of products can be provided as a ‘Top up©’ to a Host’s existing household policy or as a policy that covers their property and hosting cover for any guest-related injuries or damages.

If you are currently involved in letting out your property or a room on these type of platforms it’s worth reading the previous blog article from our CEO Louise Birritteri onTop insurance tips before letting out your property’.

We are committed to working with the sector to help educate and raise awareness of the insurance gaps within short term letting. Naturally, any improvements to innovations and standards will help mitigate damages caused by guests, but to make sure you don’t get yourself into a Pickle put your TRUST in an insurance policy from a specialist insurer to alleviate any unexpected surprises.

Pikl, preserving the things you love.

*The ‘Insuring the sharing economy in 2019’ report is based on a combination of mystery shopping and a series of qualitative interviews with representatives of the UK’s largest insurers, who manage 90% of the gross written premium (GWP) in the UK property insurance market. The survey group represents £4bn of a market worth c£4.5bn, source: Deloitte UK household insurance seminar September 2017 (which pulls together a summary of PRA returns by insurers). It was the most recent report published at the time of the survey.

Are you checking your hosts’ insurance before booking?

New research conducted by accommodation accreditation company Quality in Tourism has found that, despite paying guests expecting that their accommodation hosts have adequate insurance, few of them actually check this when booking.

In its white paper, Quality in Tourism’s research established a list of things that people thought were essential as minimum safety standards when booking any sort of paid-for accommodation. One of these was insurance. Its research found that whilst 58.1% of customers thought that insurance was essential, only 1 in 3 (31.3%) said they actually checked to see if the accommodation they were booking had adequate cover.

Louise Birritteri, CEO and founder of Pikl commented, “These findings provide really strong evidence that the insurance needs of the majority of short-term rental hosts are not being adequately accommodated by major insurers in the UK. Guests and hosts participating in the short-term letting sector presume that their hosts’ standard home insurance provides adequate cover. The truth is that, in the vast majority of cases, it’s not. Currently, too many short-term let hosts are not properly insured, more through a lack of understanding than avoidance. That’s because their standard home insurance will not cover any liability from letting a property or room on a short-term basis and could result in their claims not being settled and their policies being cancelled.

“If the majority of guests are not bothering to check, it could lead to a very unfortunate situation where they are not covered should they experience theft, trauma or worse, a severe accident leaving them hospitalised or even permanently injured or incapacitated. We very much encourage anyone booking a short-term rental to check whether their host has the right insurance cover in place. Quality in Tourism’s accreditation scheme should help guests to identify where that insurance is provided.”

Deborah Heather, Director of Quality in Tourism said, “Our findings have highlighted the need for there to be a set of universal standards in place for all types of accommodation where customers pay to stay. It shows that there is still a gap between what people perceive to be in place automatically in regard to safety, cleanliness, and compliance with the law, but in reality, it’s not the case. Importantly, not enough customers are checking these standards before booking. Insurance is seen as one of the essential elements of any rental accommodation’s minimum standards, but we know that in many cases there isn’t the appropriate insurance in place. We would encourage people participating in the short-term let sector to safeguard their rental income and assets by taking out the right insurance from a specialist insurer, such as Pikl, so that, in a worst-case scenario, they are not putting at risk all that they own.

“We believe that all accommodation hosts, including those in the sharing economy, should have the relevant insurance. Our Safe, Clean & LegalTM scheme includes insurance, giving hosts an industry-recognised accreditation and guests the peace of mind that they will be staying in accommodation that meets quality minimum standards.”

One of the key aspects of insurance that Pikl are keen to bring to hosts’ attention is the public liability side of short-term letting. Whilst some hosts may be prepared to risk having to pay a few hundred pounds out of their own pocket to repair a wine-stained carpet or replace a broken door rather than pay for additional insurance, if a guest suffers a serious accident it could result in expensive litigation, costing them tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation. That is a risk not worth taking.

Earlier in 2019, we published an industry-wide report* on the sharing economy, which unearthed a number of serious issues where short-term letting hosts are being neglected by the insurance industry:

•             Appropriate cover for short term letting is virtually non-existent

•             Some insurers will void/cancel policies if a customer participates in short-term letting

•             Where cover is available, it’s only for a short period and severe exclusions are imposed

•             Insurers are not informing customers that they need to declare their short-  term letting.

•             Insurers may not pay out on a short-term letting related claim if this activity was only discovered at the point of claim

You can download a full copy of the Quality in Tourism report here. In addition, if you would like to speak with the team about your existing insurance and short term letting needs please do not hesitate to contact our advice centre on 0800 254 5171.

*The ’Insuring the sharing economy in 2019’ report is based on a combination of mystery shopping and a series of qualitative interviews with representatives of the UK’s largest insurers, who manage 90% of gross written premium (GWP) in the UK property insurance market. The survey group represents £4bn of a market worth c£4.5bn, source: Deloitte UK household insurance seminar September 2017 (which pulls together a summary of PRA returns by insurers). It was the most recent report published at the time of the survey.

Pikl at HOST 2019

As the year draws to a close it’s been an exciting 2019 at Pikl with lot’s of highlights. We continue to grow the business, expand our team and most importantly to continue developing new products to help our customers participating in the growing sharing economy.

One of the many highlights was attending our second HOST event at the Business Design center on the 31st October – 1st November. Where has the time gone!

It was great to be an exhibitor at the event, giving us the opportunity to meet so many businesses, suppliers and customers involved in hosting.  We had some of our Pikl experts on our stand advising and guiding hosts on all their various insurance needs.  We know insurance is not something everyone wants to purchase but it’s so important that this is considered before you start hosting. There are some clear gaps in cover with traditional household insurance from many UK insurers which is why it’s always important to speak with a specialist in the sector like Pikl.  Just to highlight this gap please read our report for the sharing economy that we completed earlier in 2019.

The insurance talk was mixed with some fun by our caricaturist, who did a great job portraying many visitors as a caricature on our stand…including the Pikl team!

Our CEO Lousie Birritteri also had the opportunity to take part in one of the panel debates at the show regarding insurance, she provided her top insurance tips for letting out your property.  This was very insightful and hopefully beneficial for people just starting out in their hosting journey or even more experienced hosts that are unaware of some of the insurance gaps.

We look forward to returning to HOST 2020 but in the meantime why not check out Louise’s Top insurance tips before letting out your insurance property.