Lead Forensics
New VOI Podcast


What do teens think about insurance?

28.03.24 AdvantageGo

Supersquads, startup sherpas and sherpees – a look at future generations of insurance talent.

The latest episode of the Voice of Insurance podcast is a bit unusual. Unlike the usual interviews with CEOs, it focused on talking to young people who are still making up their minds about their career choices.

Startup Sherpas is a talent accelerator that engages with young people through paid work experience cohorts funded by the insurance industry. These projects, which take a hundred young people each, are called Supersquads.

Last summer Allianz, Aviva and the London Market Group (LMG) sponsored one of these Supersquads, tasked with coming up with ideas over the course of six weeks to help the Insurance sector grab the attention of young people, and make teens more likely to think about a career in insurance. The starting point is a tough one.

Let’s face it, young people are not gravitating towards insurance. If they’re even aware of insurance, it’s not their first choice, it’s probably not even in the top ten. They think it’s boring. They think it’s a scam, there are lots of perception challenges that we need to get across,” said Dan Wyllie, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer, Startup Sherpas.

Three of the guests on this episode were among the recent graduates – the Sherpees – of that scheme. They were interviewed at a live event in the Lloyd’s Lab, at which the Sherpees pitched their ideas to an audience of industry people.

“My pitch is about a concept called Insure fest, which is basically an insurance-based festival,” said nineteen-year-old Leeds University media student Chelsea Abili, one of three Sherpees featured on the podcast. “So our festival revolving around the concept of insurance, particularly targeted towards young people. We thought this idea would appeal to young people. We wanted to link it to TikTok, we wanted it to be hosted by TikTok influencers in particular.”

The concept would include music and stalls offering things like virtual reality experiences, each

“Each stall would have an insurance firm or organisation running it, particularly to target young people and speak to them about things in the industry.

“We want young people to see how the insurance industry can be innovative,” she said.

For the live music, for example, people working in insuring music industry events, could follow the gig by speaking about the links between the two different industries, she noted.

The industry’s engagement with young people can be too formal, and might benefit by meeting young people at a venue of their choosing, she suggested.

“The insurance industry tends to try and come to us, they try to come to our schools – it’s very, very formal…we wanted it from an informal perspective. We wanted them to meet us where we are,” Abili added.

Seventeen-year-old economics, politics and accounting student Amaan Patel, pitched his “Route 16” idea, as a summer work experience scheme for students fresh from their GCSE exams.

He noted that insurance company jobs encompass a range of different disciplines – from law, to advertising, to accountancy, and for young people, the summer before they specialise in fewer college subjects is an important time, he suggested.

“I saw it with me, I saw it with all my peers,” Patel said. “We knew we had college over the horizon of the summer holidays, but we wanted to do something now. Over the summer holidays, you had that ambition to get some sort of work – independence.”

The insurance industry’s reputation remains poor, he warned, with friends reluctant to engage with it. However, he said his perception of the sector had transformed “100%” since spending time within it, and it’s now an industry he wants to break into.

“Honestly, this industry is beautiful. It’s very diverse, it’s very colourful, it’s something in which I think a lot of people, especially my age, should really consider going into,” he said. “There isn’t a fixed pathway. When you go into the insurance industry, you can take many walks of life to get into it and to manoeuvre around it, whether you’re studying languages, something mathematical or STEM based, or law based – there are so many different routes.”

Finally, Funta Olenrewaju is a fifteen-year-old self-confessed “Jack of all trades” with ambitions to become a pilot. She moved to the UK from Nigeria less than two years ago, and studies at a secondary school in Leicester.

Her pitch is an “reality game show” for teenagers, based around the idea of investing money, and incorporating insurance into their game strategy. People retain more information when engaging in something fun that  they actually want to do, she emphasises.

Working with the industry had opened her eyes to the role of insurance in practically everything in society, she noted. “Logistically, you need insurance for almost anything. In some ways, we don’t even see that we need insurance, but it is there, and we have to involve it in everything we do,” she added.

Wyllie invokes the “first rule” in Hollywood movie Fight Club: that you don’t talk about Fight Club. Similarly, rather than focus on insurance, discussions should focus on the issues that engage young people most, and then from there begin to touch on all the ways insurance touches upon them.

“Young people care about climate; they care about their local community; they care about their prospects for jobs. So, let’s focus our attention on helping them solve some of those challenges,” he added.

What’s next for Startup Sherpas? Well, Howden Ventures, (led by Tom Hoad, a previous guest of the podcast), and its insurer innovation partners, are sponsoring the next Supersquad.

Here’s the link to learn more about the scheme – https://startupsherpas.org/

And here’s the report that came out of the first Supersquad: https://startupsherpas.org/register-interest-insurance-time-machine-report-2023.