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Why I started Lime

August 5, 2020
Shaun Williams

Shaun Williams is the Founder and CEO of Lime. Shaun writes to give a behind the scenes view of building Lime, and particularly how we are delivering on our purpose to help the many stay healthy for longer by providing super-simple affordable top-ups to public healthcare.

In some ways, the idea for Lime began way back in 1987 when I handed over insurance cheques to bereaved families after a mining disaster in Queensland, Australia. I had just started out in the insurance industry and that day I saw, first hand, what a huge difference the insurance cover made for those families when tragedy struck. I have never forgotten it.

The irony is that the people who most need insurance cover tend to be those who don’t have it.

It’s usually expensive. It’s often complicated. Insurance is the product that you buy and hope that you never use. It’s not surprising that 16 million people in the UK have neither health nor life insurance, despite the fact that the vast majority of them have either got children and / or a mortgage. Where is their safety net?

This was the problem I wrestled with when I founded Lime. I wanted to focus on health cover, because that’s something that can make a real difference to people and their families in the here and now, not some undetermined time in the future. The right protection can help not only should they need to claim, but put people’s minds at rest immediately.

How can we make health cover affordable? How can we make it less complicated? How can we help people feel covered for the things that worry them most?

The answer, it turns out, is simplicity itself. Literally.

Private health insurance has become unaffordable largely because benefits are bundled together. It tries to cover every eventuality. And once you step onto the private path, it can be difficult to step back into NHS care, which means you end up needing more and more private medical services. That can all make it more complicated and expensive.

Simple. Affordable. A different approach to health cover.

So, Lime has been designed to bring people simple and affordable health cover. We have developed a brand new model. Our starting point has always been, what do people actually NEED? What will make the biggest difference to them?

When you think about it, the NHS is amazing. Most of the time we are all happy to rely on the superb care the NHS provides. But there are some circumstances when it would be useful to have extra cover to top up that care. Like when you need a quick diagnosis but have to wait. Or if you are diagnosed with cancer and there’s a specific drug you would like to discuss with your oncologist, but it isn’t covered by your local NHS Trust.

That’s where Lime can help. We provide super-simple, affordable, bite-size health cover that allows people to top up the care they get from the NHS at key times, when they feel they need it. There is no huge expensive package of benefits. It isn’t a total shift away from NHS care. It’s a top-up where you need it, for just a few pounds a month. The price of a coffee. And it’s flexible, people can turn benefits on and off as their lives change. Because it’s so simple, there’s no need for advisers or long questionnaires.

I want people to be able to get cover for the things they are worried about. And just that. Not have to pay for a whole load of other things that aren’t so important to them. It’s all about what people really need.

That’s why our cancer cover pays out a lump sum upon diagnosis, because we know that people are worried about their finances when they get a diagnosis like that. They need to be able to focus on getting better, not worrying about how they will pay their gas bill.

People really do come first for us at Lime.

We don’t have a call centre because we want to keep our costs down and make sure our products are affordable. But we have designed Lime from the ground up to be as customer-friendly and simple as possible. We have removed unnecessary steps, taken away small print and we have a friendly email-based customer service team who are always happy to help.

It’s still early days, but I am very proud of how far we’ve come. We have lots of exciting new products in the pipeline and I have high hopes for what those products will be able to do for people who really need them.

I know that insurance can and should be a force for good. I saw it that day on the faces of those miners’ families. Everyone deserves peace of mind, everyone deserves to have a bit of a safety net. That’s what Lime is all about.

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