Spokk low-cost pet insurance in Ukraine, US, avatar tech

Spokk low-cost pet insurance in Ukraine, US, avatar tech

In the middle of a pandemic, followed by Russia’s invasion of their home country, the Ukraine-based insurtech startup Spokk began building a pet insurance business geared to serving policyholders ages 18 to 25.

Alexandra Gladyshevskaya, CEO, Spokk

Alexandra Gladyshevskaya, CEO, Spokk

“[Customers] are not just interested in the product itself, in the policy,” says Alexandra Gladyshevskaya, CEO of Spokk. “It’s also about customer experience, something that they can tell their friends, ‘Look, I just insured my dog with Spokk and it’s really cool.’ Not because of the coverage, but because they’re doing amazing things.”

One way Spokk does this is by personalizing its interactions with policyholders. They can upload a photo of their pet, which serves as a unique ID or passport for the pet, representing and containing all the pet’s information. Having that pet ID, powered with AI, eases the claims process, according to Gladyshevskaya. When making a claim, Spokk only has to ask what happened and when, because the pet’s photo ID is tied to the claims interaction. 

Having ID recognition of pets enhances customer-generated social media activity, through virtual playgrounds where pet owners on Spokk can have their pets play together while they socialize. Spokk also uses this to personalize its customer service, using pet photos as avatars that can “speak” and provide information to customers through Spokk’s website, Gladyshevskaya says.

Spokk offers pet accident insurance for $10 a month with a maximum payout of $25,000 and pet hospital care insurance for $8 a month with a maximum payout of $6,000. The company launched these offerings in the Ukraine in March 2020 as its test market, with Colonnade Insurance, a unit of Fairfax Financial Holdings, as its partner. Spokk also has venture capital investors, including Geek Ventures and SID Venture Partners.

With Boost Insurance as a partner, Spokk is preparing to launch in the U.S., which has been its main target market since the company incorporated in Delaware in 2019. The company recently won regulatory approval from Delaware and Connecticut to begin selling policies in those states, and has applications underway in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. 

Following incorporation, Spokk developed its product and marketing in part through Nassau Re’s Re/Imagine incubator in Hartford, Connecticut. Then, Spokk’s target market shifted, as Gladyshevskaya recalls. 

“We thought that our main audience would be the older millennials, people with some responsibility, some obligations, where they already have some experience in life, and they understand their risks,” she says. “In a year, we understood that our actual audience is Gen Z. They are very young people from 18 to 20 so they do not have cars or houses. They do not care about their retirement plan. But they’re preaching about things they really love.”

Spokk Ukranian army staffer

A claims adjuster for Ukraine-based insurtech start-up Spokk is serving in the country’s army and still working for the company when off-duty.

Since Spokk’s inception, its operating team grew from eight to 14 people. After the Russian invasion began, the company reaped more support in capital investment and free office space in Hartford. The invasion dispersed the Spokk team, with some remaining in their home country, but others now working from London, France and elsewhere. 

“I’m really proud of our team because despite any hard times, we’re still together,” says Gladyshevskaya, who is currently in Lisbon. “We’re still fighting for our future, for the future of our startup, and of course, for the future of our country.” 

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