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The Durban High Court has found in favour of insurance industry disruptor Everything.Insure Digital Intermediaries (Everything.Insure) in an ongoing legal dispute with industry giant Hippo Comparative Services (Hippo) over a consumer education social media post, ruling against the urgency of Hippo’s application to have the post taken down.

As an innovative all-in-one digital insurance marketplace, Everything.Insure aims to demystify insurance for consumers, offering a user-friendly, transparent platform for comparing, buying, and managing insurance policies, including submitting insurance claims digitally.

As part of its mission to simplify insurance for the public, Everything.Insure has launched a social media series educating consumers on the insurance industry, including posts about the differences between Everything.Insure, other insuretechs and traditional insurance broking models.

One such video published at the beginning of March explained the differences between Everything.Insure and Hippo. The main differences highlighted in the post were that Everything.Insure is an independent company providing multiple, comparative quotes from top insurers in the market, while Hippo is a lead generator owned by Telesure Investment Holdings, who also own many of the insurers being quotes on their platform, including 1st for Women, Auto & General, Budget Insurance, Virseker, and DialDirect.

After receiving notice of a legal complaint from Hippo, Everything.Insure, acting in good faith and with no admission to wrongfulness whatsoever, temporarily archived the post and invited Hippo to provide clarity regarding the elements if the post it had a difficulty with. After Hippo declined to provide any further details, Everything.Insure unarchived the video on its platforms and has now received over 130,000 views. On 31 March, after 12 days of the post being online, Hippo finally launched a legal complaint at the High Court alleging that the post was defamatory and misleading.

Everything.Insure's social media post was prepared after it conducted market research and it denies that the post is either defamatory or misleading in any way. In fact, the post was launched as a part of an educational series aimed at answering consumers' frequently asked questions and empowering them with greater knowledge of the insurance industry.

The application came before the Durban High Court on Thursday, 06 April 2023, and was struck from the urgent court roll by Judge Chetty who awarded an adverse costs order against Hippo for failing to make out a case of urgency.

Mishaya Chettiar, Executive Head of Everything.Insure, notes that the post simply aimed to provide a balanced, factual view of the differences between Hippo and Everything.Insure, so that consumers can make informed decisions.

“This post was based on market research, real-world case studies and an analysis of Hippo’s processes. This research highlighted that Hippo provided indicative quotes that then requires handing over the process to insurer call centres for final quotations. This is in contrast to Everything.Insure, who provides real-time, accurate and binding prices from the largest insurers in South Africa together with digital insurance broking advice and intermediary services, allowing the consumer to immediately buy online, no call centres or paperwork needed,” she explains.

“We had no intention of starting a war with Hippo and made great efforts to portray Hippo in the best light and only focus on the factual differences, leaving out subjectivity or opinion from our post.

“We were surprised when, after declining to provide details regarding their concerns, Hippo’s legal team suddenly approached the High Court for urgent relief the day before the Easter weekend.”

Notably, while Hippo provides consumers with multiple, indicative quotes from within their own group, consumers cannot purchase insurance directly through its platform. Instead, once individuals have received their quote and confirmed which estimate they prefer, they are subsequently referred to the insurance house in question. This insurer then pays Hippo commission in exchange for the lead.

However, the quotes provided by Hippo are merely illustrative, and may differ vastly from the final cost of the insurance product – a fact highlighted within Everything.Insure’s social media post, which explains that the difference could be as much as 30% to 40% more.

Additionally, Everything.Insure’s post explains that as Hippo is part of the Telesure Investment Holdings Group, it only includes a small number of insurers from outside its own stable - another point which Hippo has raised as the basis for its concern.

“Our intent was never to attack Hippo, or any of the other brands included in our series of posts. Our goal is to empower consumers with all the knowledge and tools needed to make informed insurance choices and improve their experiences.

“We felt we were being bullied in a typical David versus Goliath manner, and believed so strongly in our mission to be an independent consumer champion, that we were willing to pay the price to stand our ground. Everything.Insure is determined to continue defending our legal rights on behalf of all South Africans, who deserve greater transparency, accurate quotes, and ethical information from the insurance industry,” concludes Chettiar.

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