Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Meet Stephen Ebbett of Protect Your Bubble

Stephen Ebbett is President of Protect Your Bubble, a new kind of insurance brand that understands that 21st century lives are busy and complicated and offers an online service that makes insurance simple and uncomplicated. Stephen also leads Protect Your Bubble UK, which combined with US operations, has sold more than one million policies.

Protect Your Bubble offers coverage for mobile gadgets such as smartphones (Android or iPhone), tablets, and cell phones. The company also offers extended warranties for small and large electronics, including televisions, cameras and laptops. Protect Your Bubble also offers affordable pet insurance, an important option for consumers who want to be prepared financially when their pets need veterinary care. Travel insurance and rental car coverage from Protect Your Bubble can help vacationers or those on business trips deal with the unexpected--including damage to a rental car--at rates much lower than are typically offered by rental car or travel agencies. The company also provides identity theft protection services, as well as renters insurance.

Stephen's past experience includes a role as the Head of Channel and Product Development at Assurant Solutions, which is Protect Your Bubble's parent company, as well as a position as Insurance Product Manager at John Lewis Partnership. Prior to that, he served as Channel Marketing Manager of AXA Insurance.

Stephen has more than 10 years of experience spearheading innovative product and communication initiatives for corporations looking to gain a competitive edge when entering a new market. Stephen attended Durham University and holds an undergraduate degree in philosophy and theology, as well as a postgraduate degree in marketing. Outside of his work with Protect Your Bubble, Stephen enjoys rugby, climbing, film, and photography.

1. How did you select the three main areas of coverage (gadgets, pets, and travel) for Protect Your Bubble?

At Protect Your Bubble, our mission is to offer a new kind of insurance to cover the items in customers' homes, the pets that enrich their lives, the technology they use on a daily basis, and much more. It's the things consumers don't always think to insure, but are very important to them.

2. Your starting rates are very affordable--how do you keep costs down for consumers, and what level of protection are consumers getting for relatively small premiums?

When creating the products, the #1 focus was to create great coverage but at an affordable price. In addition, we offer flexible deductibles to ensure that consumers' monthly payments work within their budget. We realize that consumers want comprehensive coverage at a great rate, so we work hard to develop our products around this philosophy.

3. What's the benefit in insuring an item like an appliance or smartphone rather than using a manufacturer or store warranty?

It happens all the time; we drop our phone and crack the screen, we jump in the pool forgetting that our iPhone is in our pocket, and sadly our phone becomes misplaced or even stolen. Unfortunately, the later is becoming more common. In fact, 113 smartphones are lost or stolen every minute in the U.S. Replacing an uninsured smartphone leaves many consumers in sticker shock. Carriers heavily subsidize the price of the latest smartphones, so customers who replace the mobile device outside of the subsidy will end up paying up to three times the original purchase price. This is why many consumers invest in insurance, to avoid forking over the big chunk of cash to replace it.

It's important that consumers make sure they fully understand their coverage options. I urge consumers to consider comprehensive coverage for their mobile device through insurance, rather than a warranty. For instance, some extended warranties cover accidental damage under limited circumstances but leave consumers unprotected in the event of a loss or theft.

When it comes to extended warranties for home gadgets and appliances, consumers should do their research and learn about the additional level of coverage they can get with a third party, like Protect Your Bubble. For example, we provide things like tech support for computers, food replacement for fridges/freezers, and surge protection. Plus, battery replacement and accidental damage coverage are also available during the manufacturer's warranty. Protect Your Bubble pays for all shipping charges to and from its repair facilities. These are all things that can make a big difference when in a bind.

4. What strategies do you recommend for someone who wants to assess his/her (and his/her family's) insurance needs?

Many big-ticket items we buy and plans we make (such as a business trip or vacation) are insurable. The problem is that many people assume they already have coverage or expect that they'll receive replacement items quickly when that's not necessarily the case. That's why I recommend taking stock of your stuff and evaluating available coverage options. Here are some tips when deciding whether or not you should insure your stuff:

Evaluate deductibles and coverage you already have: Know what your homeowner's insurance covers. For example, many homeowners have deductibles that exceed the value of the appliance, so in effect, the appliance or gadget is unprotected. Perhaps you rent your home and think your landlord will take care of damage to the contents you own in case of a mishap that isn't your fault. Chances are, your stuff isn't covered.

Know the true value of your smartphone: The replacement cost of your smartphone is up to three times the price you paid with the carrier's subsidy. If your smartphone or tablet is lost, stolen or damaged and you don't have insurance on it, you may be required to pay upwards of $600+.

Self-insurance can be costly: Some people assume it's better to just pay out-of-pocket to replace lost, stolen, or damaged items rather than insure them. But that depends on many factors. What you need to consider is: Will you have enough cash on hand to replace items you use every day if you need to?

Know your options: Thanks to the internet, there are more insurance options now than ever before, which makes it simple to compare rates and find the right policy. For example, you don't have to take whatever the car rental company is offering. Shop around and then make a decision--you can usually save a lot of money.

5. As an entrepreneur, how is blogging important in connecting with your (new and existing) customers, and what are some of the topics you cover in your posts?

Blogging is important for me because I want to stay connected with customers. It's a great way for me to share tips and become a resource for readers. I encounter a lot of claims data and hear from customers all the time, so it's important for me to share what I learn. Not to mention, I enjoy blogging. Typically, I try to write articles that help consumers plan ahead, avoid gadget hiccups, and not become a victim of theft, plus travel-related topics. I write about what I think can impact consumers' lives and how to protect the little things in life that matter a great deal.

Thanks, Stephen!

Note: Follow Stephen's blog posts on Protect Your Bubble as well as Google Plus. To learn more about Protect Your Bubble, check out the video below.

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