Red Apple Group, an insurance quotation and financing service for mortgage brokers, will launch automated chatbots in a few months’ time to help customers who don’t want to wait on the phone or have a query late at night when an adviser isn’t available.
Kevin Paterson, the managing director of Red Apple Group which The Source is a part of, said that currently bots help other businesses’ with point of sale, archives, customer, questions and answers.
He said: “I think it’s exciting. There’s a number of ways to use it and in particular it takes a lot of the heavy research element away from the call centre. It’s another way of helping clients and brokers.
“Our live chats are very popular but if they’re not available, bots will automatically kick in and try to help and because it’s built on an AI platform, it learns so the idea is it continues to build its knowledge and understands where to use that.”
Red Apple launched a finance platform, Red Apple Finance, last year, and has recently taken it out to whole of market.
This involves a short-term loan alongside an annual policy, so the premium loan is generated, pays the insurance policy upfront and collects the money back from the client over the course of 12 months with a small interest charge.
Red Apple currently collects for and handles premiums for over 65,000 customers so it over 65,000 loans in place that is collecting on a monthly basis.
Paterson added: “We’ve created a business around it and we’re now going to take that up to the market and sell it as a platform to other brokers who want to use it.”
In the meantime Red Apple is building a boiler plate – a bespoke platform allowing for more flexibility.
Paterson said: “If a broker says they really like it, but I only want to collect premiums over six months and I want to charge this interest rate on that one and that interest rate on that one, the boiler plate allow you to do that.
“The market needs more flexibility so we built the boiler plate to do that. It’s effectively the component standard model and you pick and choose the bits you want so the two we have built are completely different but it can cope with that.
“I think the challenge in the mortgage industry is that type of product won’t be relelvant to a lot fo brokers. Mortgage brokers by and large deal with mortgage lenders like insurance companies.
“Where a premium funder is useful is in situations where a high street insurance broker funds its own premiums and uses a platform like us.”
Red Apple consists of about 84 staff at the moment but has ambitious growth plans with the plan to double the business over the next three to five years and this year is looking at a 25% increase in profitability.
Paterson said that it can probably double in size with a 20- 25% rise in headcount because the technology does all the heavy lifting.
He added: “We’ve got some very clever people. We specialists and run all our own IT and we build stuff for other people as well. It’s going in the right direction. Its looking good. There’s always work to do and changes to make.”