It was exactly two years ago that Richard Branson had to face one of his biggest ever set-backs: his R6.7trn Virgin Galactic tourist spaceship exploded, killing one pilot.
Two years ago to the day, Branson jetted out to the California’s Mojave Desert to the scene of the accident, where he started the process of rebuilding his dream of space tourism.
Now, the owner of Virgin, who flew into Cape Town on Monday to launch Virgin Money Insurance (VMI), said it was this disaster that created a marriage between Virgin and global insurer American Insurance Group (AIG).
VMI is a partnership offering short term insurance products with AIG in South Africa.
Also read on why Cyber crime is the biggest terror threat to Nigeria.
“The first time we came into contact with AIG in a big way was actually a couple of years ago when we had the Virgin Galactic accident,” he said. “AIG had actually insured the space ship. Within two days, they had paid up for the accident.
“It’s not often this happens with insurance agencies, but I sat down and wrote them a long letter saying how much I appreciated the way they moved so quickly,” he said.
“I then met up with the chairman of AIG and we thought about what sorts of things we could do around the world together.
“Virgin has one of the best consumer brands, I think, in the world,” he said. “AIG is one of the biggest insurance companies in the world, but mainly as B2B insurance.
“We thought, let’s get married. We’ll bring the best of each other’s skills to bear.”
“We’re here to shake up the industry and create an outstanding customer experience,” he said.