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Start-ups to watch

Ten insurtech start-ups to watch in 2018 - part one

There does not appear to be any slowdown in the number of insurtech start-ups that are aiming to mark their mark on the insurance sector. With this in mind I have decided to do another of what is becoming a biannual roundup of new businesses to keep an eye out for.

>> Read the full article here


Steve Mendel





Steven Mendel,

founder and CEO, Bought by Many

So, you want to invest in an insurtech?

Until an insurance tech company sends out a press release unveiling the millions it has recently received, little is known about its fundraising journey.

It is a path that takes CEOs and investors through boardroom and restaurant booth deals where the parties involved keep their cards close to their chests. But perhaps a wider conversation could help investors find the right companies to back, and prime early stage digital insurance businesses to be able to better negotiate the funding that will fuel their growth.

Having closed Bought By Many's £7.5m Series A last year and spent time over the past few weeks speaking with insurers and venture capitalists (VCs) from the UK and the US, I think it's worth sharing insights on the state of investment in our space.

Despite insurance tech start-ups raising over £1.29bn in 2016, two thirds of the deals took place at early stage, according to CB Insights. And, in the UK while £220m has been invested in insurance tech this year, £180m was in one company alone.

However, as more early stage start-ups enter the fray and a few mature having found real product-to-market fit, the desire for investors to put money to work in the insurance tech space will grow.

In my experience, few investors have experience of the insurance tech marketplace, which is not surprising considering the dominance of early stage deals and the lack of larger investment opportunities (I count fewer than 10 big deals globally) that are needed to get some VCs out of bed.

But investors have seen the hype and they're circling. One consequence is that some VCs see CEOs on the funding trail as a soft touch for knowledge about the insurance tech market. They arrange meetings that are of little use for the companies in need of funds - these are often demoralising once the CEO finds out they'vr only been called in to educate an investor who has no idea if they want to enter the digital insurance arena.

A better forum for education is the conference circuit. I was invited to speak at October's huge InsurTech Connect event in Las Vegas and found away from the formal talks, which offered plenty of information to get to grips with the industry, there was a cohort of VCs and senior players from big insurers keen to learn more about individual tech companies.

Conferences like InsurTech Connect and Europe's DIA are a more constructive place for early stage founders to share knowledge and make contacts who may be willing to inject money further down the line.

Another aspect of investors' lack of insurance tech knowledge is that it leads to some placing a greater emphasis on companies' management teams - in particular, teams they have invested behind before, regardless of their insurance experience. Only time will tell whether this is a suitable substitute for industry nous - but it does mean that personal contacts are valuable and the deeper the better.

When an insurance start-up does connect with a genuine investor it's worth the former being upfront about the size of the investment opportunity and the latter being clear on their ideal cheque size in the first conversation. There is little point in wasting time building a relationship that isn't going anywhere.

And for any investors reading this, timely feedback is critical. No one likes being left in the lurch and for some start-ups funding is a matter of life or death. Also, if the story isn't resonating or ringing true, say so. Be clear and specific. And please don't do the "it's not you, it's me" thing. Allow companies to learn from the experience so that they can better target the right VCs - those where there is a reasonable chance of converting those conversations into detailed funding discussions.

For insurtech companies looking beyond a Series A it's tempting to see the Bay Area of San Francisco as the Holy Grail of investment opportunity but it's vital to enter the Golden State with the right expectations.

West Coast VCs often have a smaller time horizon and set higher hurdles for non-US businesses; in fact, some have higher hurdles even for companies outside of the Bay Area. For European insurance tech firms, it can feel like you're not on the list for the hottest club in town.

Of course, there are other places to get funding and it's important for insurance tech companies to weigh up other offers. ‘Strategic investors' - often incumbent insurers who are investing so they can work with a start-up - may be able to offer valuable ongoing support. The emphasis should be on ‘may' - judge any offers on a case-by-case basis and make sure both sides benefit from a partnership. Get firm commitments and don't be afraid to hold the insurer to account.

For Bought By Many's Series A, we took money from the leading British VC firm Octopus Ventures and Munich Re's ventures arm HSB Ventures. Both have been supportive and key to our development. Munich Re has created an impressive model for digital insurance investment that links investment to insurance as a service that others in the industry (insurers and reinsurers alike) would be wise to learn from.

Funding is designed to benefit both parties and while it's impossible to always back the right horse, better and more timely communication can help get deals over the line. Investment will happen regardless but with the insurance tech market gaining momentum it's right that companies talk about the quality of deals, not just the quantity.


Cameron Shearer

Cameron Shearer
CEO, Digital Risks

The evolving challenge of protecting against cyber risks

With cyber-attacks on the rise and emerging technologies set to transform the cyber landscape, cyber insurance providers have to stay on their toes.

Despite having roots in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, cyber insurance didn't become a serious consideration beyond relatively niche businesses until the start of this decade. According to The Identity Theft Resource Centre, the number of data breaches has risen steadily since 2005, reaching an all-time high last year. As an increasing number of high-profile cyber-attacks have hit the headlines, other organisations have naturally started to think about how they would respond, if they were hit by something similar.

Remember the attack on Sony Playstation in 2011, which saw 77 million user accounts compromised by an "external intrusion", in what remains one of the largest data security breaches in history. Playstation users were unable to access the service for 23 days, and the company took a week to inform those affected. To make matters worse, Sony's (general liability) insurance didn't cover the breach, leaving the company to shoulder losses of around $170 million.

Cyber insurance was originally designed to cover third party losses, such as legal and regulatory costs, but its scope has evolved over recent years, as the extent of the fallout from cyber-attacks and data breaches has become apparent. Many policies now cover a range of first-party losses, such as system rectification costs, extortion, PR fees, IT forensics and the cost of informing those affected - this will become increasingly important when the GDPR comes into force next year. Business interruption cover is another growing aspect of cyber, as companies become more and more reliant on technology to operate a whole raft of business processes.

But cyber insurance is still in its infancy and the risk landscape is constantly evolving. Today's world is so interconnected that just one attack can reverberate across a whole network of organisations, as we saw with the huge denial of service attack (DDoS) that hit Dyn last year. By crippling one of the major companies that run the internet's domain name system (DNS), the incident brought down some of the biggest websites in the world, including Twitter, The Guardian, Netflix, Reddit, Airbnb and CNN. It also highlighted the global cyber risk for insurers.

Cyber insurers are also adapting to the rise of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data analytics, which increase a company's' exposure to attacks and the potential damage that can be caused. Take the Internet of Things, which spans everything from smart TVs, to self-driving cars and intelligent supply chains, with predictions that there will be 24 billion IoT devices in the world by 2020. If everything is connected and has the potential to be hacked, then the potential for both virtual and physical damage is enormous. Data loss is one thing, but what if a hacked car gets driven off the road?

That's why it's so important for cyber insurers - Digital Risks included - to stay ahead of the game, in terms of understanding how technology is developing and the implications it could have for the risks faced by our clients. It also demonstrates why cyber insurance can't function on its own and must go hand-in-hand with IT security and proactive risk management. Cyber insurers must work alongside cyber security specialists, and have sophisticated risk assessment tools in place to tailor their policies to the specific needs of clients. The cyber criminals won't stand still, so we can't either.


Rob Savage

Rob Savage

Head of digital product management
Direct Line Group

The revolution needs us all on board.

I attended a recent InsurTech conference in London and it got me thinking... is what we're all pursuing a digital transformation or do we crave a digital revolution, and as incumbents, what can we learn from our digital journeys to best organise ourselves for success?

The insurance industry's digital marketplace has been around for more than ten years now, meaning one could argue that the digital transformation has already happened.
So maybe what we need is not a digital transformation but a digital revolution of the insurance industry. In other words, a monumental leap in terms of the ways we service our customers. Ways that would never be imagined by the majority of our customer base.

The million-dollar question is, how does this happen? How can large-scale units organise themselves sufficiently to work in this way, and how can comparatively small start-ups build the notoriety and customer base to revolutionise the world of insurance?

It's clear that each and every company is approaching it in different ways. Many of the larger players have built a division or business unit that is focused solely on new technology and solutions. This was apparent at the conference where a number of the London Market insurers presented their newly founded 1-10 person innovation team and what they're working on.

While a distilled catalyst for revolution within a large company is valuable, the danger is that one small team ends up running at full speed towards a goal while the rest of the company is neither convinced a revolution is possible nor is it aware it is actually coming.

Don't get me wrong, this model can deliver significant benefits if the thinking and work of the team is deliberately permeated outwards by involving key members from across the business, but it will always be viewed to be the purpose of a single team.

To truly revolutionise, the way an entire company thinks, acts and behaves must evolve. And for this to happen it's vital that everyone understands WHY it is necessary, so that all are facing in the same direction. Every team must be supported and encouraged to advance their thinking and the way they work.

This cross-function, company-wide approach can result in significant advancement. If every department changes the way their particular contribution adds value to the revolutionising of insurance, you have an organisation moving at pace towards a shared goal. Not to mention the improved results that this collective intelligence will bring.

As digital activists, technologists and creative culture enthusiasts what can we learn from our experiences of a transformative discipline? Well, we're lucky that the majority of people we work with in the digital sphere are already programmed to seek out new ways of working.

Innovation and transformation are words we've grown up with, and we have first-hand experience of moving from being connected with a landline only to being connected 24-7 through smartphones, tablets and laptops. For many this experience may even be the reason why they work in digital.

So how can we take this digital mindset, this way of life, and use it to harness the power of the companies we lead and work within? What can be learned from how insurance has already evolved over the last 5-10 years? Is it the building of a siloed team or it is a combination of focus, purpose and company-wide cultural shift? At Direct Line Group we pride ourselves on our digital transformation and the shift in culture and mindset it has helped foster. We are using that learning to set ourselves up for the digital revolution.

I believe, as do many others in the sphere, that true revolution comes from the power of many.


Leigh Calton

Leigh Calton

Head of Research and Development, Ageas

Disruption versus innovation

#wakeupinsurance was the initial call to arms for the Digital Insurance Collective, and it could be argued that this has been achieved. Most insurance companies now have their own ‘idea hubs', existing incumbents are engaging with start-up businesses, either via accelerator programmes or directly, and even industry awards events now feature specific recognition for the best new sparkly idea.

But has the industry woken up to innovation or disruption, and is there a difference between the two?

I believe there is a significant difference. For me, innovation is about taking a product, proposition or experience and making it better. There are many examples of how insurance has responded with innovation over the last 18-24 months and how we are now seeing innovative new product launches and enhanced customer experiences from start-up businesses and incumbents, as well as via collaborations.

But are we seeing disruption? Personally I believe disruption is where something comes rather unexpectedly and turns a world upside down. I don't think we are seeing disruption yet in insurance - at least not something so fundamental that it challenges the status quo. After all, most of the innovations that have come to market to date are all still based around a core insurance concept and have an existing (re)insurer at some point in the value chain. But can disruption really exist in insurance? After all, if insurance is there to help pick up the pieces after something has happened, what could be the disruptive response - perhaps to not pick up the pieces? That has to be the worst customer proposition ever!

And if disruption is about an unexpected event then can you prepare for it anyway? I think you can, but it means you need to adopt a disruptive mindset perspective, not just an innovative one.

Preparing for disruption means thinking about the most unlikely things. For example, Airbus has stated that they will test a flying car by the end of 2017. Perhaps, therefore, we shouldn't be focusing on the impact that driverless cars will have on car insurance in 10 years time as they may have been overtaken (pardon the pun) by flying vehicles? One way to consider the impact of disruption is to develop a scenario planning capability in which various alternative possible futures are created with a specific time horizon in mind which are shared within an organisation to test the robustness of a longer term strategy, as well as how flexible it is in adapting to various alternatives as to how the future might play out.

I've used the flying car as an extreme example (is it?) but there are many other ways insurance could be impacted by unexpected events. For example, who forecasted a negative value Discount Rate?

And it's not just lines of business we need to consider. What about how we work, where we work and what skills and resources organisations will need in the future?

For many people in the industry the threat of disruption is too remote to consider, particularly when the economics of the world means that shareholders demand more immediate returns. One challenge for us all is to make sure that disruption planning is relevant to today's organisation. Risk functions, actuaries, strategic planners, marketeers and executive teams all have a responsibility here in preparing for potential disruption.

So now that the industry has #wokenup to innovation let's move the agenda on once more and start thinking, planning and debating about potential disruption!


Dylan Bourguignon

Dylan Bourguignon, CEO and Fo Funder, so-sure

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Why disrupting insurance is hard and too few entrepreneurs are addressing the real problem

The insurance industry has been ripe for disruption for years and yet a quick walk around Leadenhall market where brokers bustle about with paper files under their arms reveals nothing has changed in decades.

Why is this?
From one perspective it's very simple to answer: every player in the insurance market has been enjoying 10-20% net margins for over a century, so why would they want that to change? Lloyds of London tried bringing into their organisation technology innovation with Kinnect in 2002 but after £70m investment and 5 years, it was shut down. Hence, until the rise of fintech, insurance companies felt very comfortable with business ‘as usual', since the Kinnect episode had made it very clear that no one was prepared to change how things were done. However, things have begun to change. Over the past few years, the insurance sector has seen more innovative tech-led businesses. However, a great proportion of these are making the existing industry more efficient rather than disrupting the incumbents. Why is that? Are people happy with the status quo?

Why is disruption needed?
The most revealing survey was the Edelman global survey in 2013, which showed that 47% of adults trusted insurance versus 52% for banks, pretty shocking given that the banks are blamed for the financial crisis. This lack of trust is arguably driven from the general feeling that insurance is too expensive and when you claim, the insurers, through small print and painful claim processes, find ways to avoid paying out. Hence, until these two issues are addressed, entrepreneurs are only serving an industry which focuses on selling their (insurance) products rather than providing consumers with what they need. With insurance companies recently expressing their desire to change and embrace technology, one could wonder whether they have recognised this and are actually addressing the issue. However, the customer experience remains poor - the FCA report on mobile phone insurance in December 2015 revealed that a third of firms investigated paid out less than 60% of claims - and insurers are focusing on ‘big data' analytics which arguably is not in the general public's interest. Indeed "big data" is used to price individual risks at granular level. While this means that in the short term, it provides insurers a pricing advantage over their competitors, over time, if we take this to its natural conclusion, we will end up paying for our own exact risk. Notwithstanding, we would lose the bene t of pooling the risk - which is whole point of insurance - if insurance becomes payment for our exact risk, then it is a payment plan. Who would pay for a payment plan, where the majority of your money supports the industry rather than our risk? So, I would argue, serious disruption is required.

Why have there been few disruptors?
Because it's hard! Insurance is an opaque, regulated market, where industry players only do business with people they know. Moreover, getting funding is not easy within the insurance space.
a) Opacity
I spent over a decade investigating industries across sectors. When I started looking into the insurance sector, I found it one of the most convoluted and complex sectors to understand. There is little public data available and the industry has its own language, processes and accounting formats. It is as if everything was done to make it harder to understand what is going on for people on the outside. This therefore makes it extremely challenging for non-industry people to create disruption.
b) Regulation
Insurance regulation is even tougher than banks. In the lending market, there was a regulatory loophole with simple loans (i.e. not asset-backed) which were not regulated as parent-child loans existed before the banks did. This loophole led to the emergence of peer-to-peer lending platforms, as an alternative to bank loans. In insurance, there was no such thing as ‘simple insurance' before Edward Lloyds coffee shop in 1680s, so every insurance product sold in the UK is regulated. While it is required (as it protects the consumers), this regulation is such that if one tries to save money bypassing segments of the traditional value chain, the costs are such that they ‘kill' the economics. So entrepreneurs have to work with the industry unless they recreate the whole value chain.
c) Connections and siloes
The insurance industry is like an old boys club. People do business with people they know and trust, so newcomers have great difficulty in engaging existing players to work with them. It is also an industry of silos where individuals find their specialism (underwriting, broking, claim handling, etc.) and tend to stay there for their entire careers. This lack of mobility makes it harder for people to understand the whole value chain and therefore figuring out how to disrupt the industry.
d) Investment
As a result of the above, it is really difficult for new entrants to create something entirely new, unless they have a LOT of capital behind them to build the whole value chain from scratch. However, and understandably, investors have become more attuned to Minimal Viable Product (MVP)-based lean startups. Sadly, in insurance, if a founder decided to launch an MVP without regulatory approvals, not only it is costly and time consuming - they risk jail. Moreover, the EIS/SEIS tax break rules in the UK are not applicable to balance sheet type businesses, thus further reducing the appetite for investors to back new insurance businesses.
Hence, most entrepreneurs in the insurance space have been focused on using technology to serve the incumbent players. This allows them to operate as non-regulated, B2B businesses serving a market that desperately needs innovation and doesn't require them to take on the regulatory or capital burdens of insurance.

The innovation
We often turn to America for technology-led innovation. American entrepreneurs have been lording the ‘disruption' of insurance through their new comparison websites, such as Coverhound, which reduces the cost of insurance. The UK has had price comparison websites for nearly 20 years and we now know - as reported by the FCA in July 2014 report - that they do not address the consumers' needs. Indeed, similar to Google rankings, insurers need to be in the top five. To do so, the insurers have to change (or rather ‘reduce') their product quality to make their economics work - so customers buying the cheaper products may have a nasty surprise when they claim.

As with many industries, Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are powerful tools to improve the consumer experience. appears to be leading the way for blockchain in diamond insurance which could really benefit the customer's claim experience.

Meanwhile, so far, it appears that AI or IoT have mostly been applied to serve the insurers with some marginal benefits for consumers. AI is being used to help detect fraud and provide insurers with cheaper distribution model with robot-advisors. IoT has been applied to the service of the insurance companies' "big data" drive: fit bits in health insurance (eg VitalityHealth) and telematics to car insurance (too many adopters in the UK to mention). These applications leave the "good risk" with slightly cheaper insurance and the "bad risk" with unaffordable insurance. I trust that entrepreneurs will soon develop applications of these great technological advances to serve the customer rather than the insurers. In my view, there have been two real innovations that address insurance from the consumer's needs perspective, rather than the insurance company's.

These innovations have been driven by the rethinking of the insurance product and rethinking of the insurance model:

1) Rethinking the insurance product
I believe people want the peace of mind that if something unforeseen happens to them, their possessions or their loved ones, they are covered. Who really wants an insurance product for every item they possess (household, car, bike, etc)? Few because it is too much work to identify and take out the appropriate policy for each item. While some are making forays in the one life, one policy concept, there has been interesting rethinking of the duration of the insurance cover, such as Cuvva's pay as you go model.

2) Rethinking the insurance model
The real innovation in insurance has been in the peer-to-peer models. The theory behind these is that peer-to-peer reduces the moral hazard of insurance and therefore reduces the cost of insurance. As long as the savings are passed back to consumers, the consumer needs are finally addressed.

Friendsurance was the first peer-to-peer player with a model where the excess was mutualised. While the savings offered to their customers vary from 10-40% when nobody claims, they leave the customer's claim experience to the traditional insurance companies. Guevara then came along with a more integrated online mutual model (mutual is how consumer insurance started in 17th century), which offers up to 50% savings when nobody claims.

In the coming weeks, we are launching so-sure, which takes peer-to-peer insurance to a new level, with our ‘Social Insurance' model. Focused on addressing customers' needs, Social Insurance ensures that customers have a great experience from purchase to claim. Moreover customers can get up to 80% money back, every year, if they and their friends don't claim. Created to serve its customers rather than insurers, we are starting with mobile phones, as these are expensive devices, which we would struggle to live without.
In the UK, we are fortunate to have the most advanced insurance value chain and distribution channel system in the world. We also have some of the world's best creative and technological talent. We are therefore in an ideal place to test truly disruptive models and these are desperately needed. While I remain confident that new insurance models will emerge using innovative technologies, I sincerely hope that the entrepreneurs will have the courage and persistence to focus on serving the consumers' needs, rather than those of the insurers. It's not easy, but nobody said it would be.

Dylan Bourguignon, CEO and Founder, so-sure


Cameron Shearer

Cameron Shearer, CEO, Digital Risks

Tweet Cam @CamShearer

Tweet Digital Risks @DigitalRisks


Disruption better late than never for business insurance

As many of my fellow bloggers have already expressed very eloquently, insurance is famously behind the times when it comes to incorporating tech and all things digital into its products and services. And if you think insurance as a whole is behind the times, then business insurance is even more so, with the commercial sector being seriously slow in addressing the needs and wants of today's new breed of businesses.

It's a situation I've found confusing because there's such a big opportunity! The UK start-up landscape has never been more exciting, with over 600,000 new businesses started last year, up 4.6% on the year before. And while starting a business is always a challenge, in many ways it's never been easier, with technology and co-working spaces reducing overheads and many of the barriers to entry.

Self-employment is another huge trend, with the so-called ‘gig economy' leading many to seek a new way of working outside the traditional 9 to 5. Recent research by McKinsey found that between 20 and 30 per cent of people in Europe and the US are now self-employed, while some experts predict this will rise to 50% by 2020. That's a significant number of people - who will all be needing insurance.

So how do we meet the needs of this new breed of businesses?

...Full Blog post >>


Mark Mullin

Mark Mullin, director of digital strategy, Guidewire

Digital Insurance Collective: Using technology to attract millennials

I closed my last post by promising some thoughts on attracting millennials to work in our industry.

Let's be even more specific: How can today's brokers and intermediaries convince the millennial generation that a career in insurance distribution is for them?

Thinking about this, I looked back to my time as a broker in the 1980s (yes, I have been around that long).

In 1984, I purchased my first ever computer system to run my brokerage. At the time I was living in Canada, so just divide everything here by two and you will have the approximate value in sterling. The main box was C$7000. It had a massive 640K of RAM, and a 20 megabyte hard drive. The salesman assured me that I would never need anything larger (we upgraded 12 months later to 40 megabytes). Three green screen terminals, a dot matrix printer, a backup tape drive, and the software to run the company - running on Unix of course, with DOS 2.0 underneath. The total bill - C$30,000. Or about C$70,000 in today's money.

I look back on that and shiver at how much this cost; but I would not have been able to build a C$10m business with six staff without it. The system made us better. It drove us forward. It was the root of my continuing belief that technology can drive business success.

Now look at insurance distribution today... Full Blog post >>


Gordon Rutherford

Gordon Rutherford, head of marketing & e-commerce, AXA Business Insurance



Six Things That Insurers Can Learn From Pokemon GO

I'm sure that there isn't anyone out there who is unaware of the phenomenon that is Pokemon Go. Globally, it is estimated to already be on 5% of the world's smartphones. At the time of writing, it has been out for a mere ten days. Think about that for a moment.

Described as like being immersed in a warm, relaxing bath (just like buying insurance, eh?), the world is engaged. On trains on the daily commute, on our city streets, in public parks, it seems that the entire world is fixated on collecting pokeballs. Yesterday, a friend of mine narrowly missed being totalled by a bus because he was intensely focusing on chasing a fire horse thing across Moorgate.

And Pokemon Go has served to go way beyond mere entertainment. More than anything, it has contributed to us forgetting all of our fears and concerns about the fact that the country is currently being pulled into some catastrophic political and economic abyss. Why worry about who is leading our political parties when there are Pokemon Gyms out there to get to.

Anyway, what has any of this to do with insurance? Well, everything actually. There are six really crucial lessons that insurers can learn from Pokemon Go. So, in no particular order... Full Blog Post >>>


Vivek Banga

Vivek Banga, chief digital officer, Author J Gallagher

Tweet Vivek @AJG_Intl



How can we make digital work within large corporate organisations?

Imagine a start-up today, whatever the industry. The business plan has been written, the products developed, the launch prepared and planned for. And digital will sit at its heart.

Whether it is selling and servicing online, devising and developing an integral mobile app, or executing a social media campaign to push and promote the launch, digital will doubtless be the common thread.

But that start-up won't employ a ‘head of digital'. Every service will simply have a digital avatar. It will be expected and accepted that every single transaction - such as buying a new product - will have a digital option for completing the task at hand, even if non-digital alternatives exist.
Now compare that with large or long established, successful businesses. You may well be working in one.

There you'll find a growing realisation that digital is too mega a trend to ignore. There'll also be a real and genuine desire to explore and embrace digital channels. And someone will no doubt be entrusted with the task of digital development.
Yet at the same time, the existing traditional and profitable business needs to be protected and nurtured. In commercial insurance specifically, scepticism over a digital utopia quite rightly remains. People hear constant talk of disruption but outside segments such as motor, home or travel - the same lines that were early adopters of the internet - there is little evidence of it... Full Blog Post >>>


Mark Mullin

Mark Mullin, director of digital strategy, Guidewire Software

Insurers - ignore the Millennials at your peril

After spending decades in the insurance industry on several continents, it never ceases to amaze me how we continuously fail to adapt to change as effectively as other industries around us.

In the past, it has been possible to get by with expedient choices to address immediate needs. What has crept up on the industry is the impact of a whole generation of new customers with different demands - I am, of course, speaking about Millennials.

I am all too familiar with the challenges of satisfying the expectations of this generation. My own two children are Millennials and my experience has been that within this group expectations are incredibly varied. Indeed, Millennials seldom behave homogenously. My favourite example is my daughter, who works in the IT department of a major international company. This creates an added dimension to her expectations regarding interaction with external suppliers or, indeed, any company. She knows what should be possible, so don't try to fool her. Like her brother, she expects to interact when and how she chooses... Full Blog Post >>>


Leigh Calton

Leigh Calton
head of proposition development,

Tweet Leigh @OfficialelRsie



When worlds collide...

"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" as the French say (or "the more things change, the more they stay the same", as we Brits would say). If you haven't noticed, there's a lot going on within insurance at the moment. Not only are we all trying to secure and retain today's customer, but we are also active in trying to understand tomorrow's consumer and whether they will buy insurance from an established player (broker or insurer), a start up, or even someone who has yet to have their business idea that will take over the world. With so much going on - connected homes, connected cars, drones, blockchain... where do we start and, more importantly, where will it all end?

The easiest answer is ‘we don't know yet'. But it's the more complex answer(s) where the true value lies. There are a lot of conferences and events at the moment, each on a specific subject (pretty much the same as the list above) and this is part of the problem. Trying to separately develop a connected home solution, a connected car product, working out what benefit drones can have and what on earth blockchain really means to a consumer is difficult enough. However, none of these trends will develop and grow in isolation. They're all likely to feed off of one another... Full Blog Post >>


Paul Wishman

Paul Wishman, ecommerce director, LV

Tweet Paul @paulwishman


So it's clear we are going to be disrupted, at some point...

For a long time, innovation and progress in the insurance industry has been thwarted by the very real obstacle of legacy systems. You've got a great new product or service to launch but your systems can't support it. Until now, the favoured work-around approach has simply been to create a sub-brand on a new technology stack, often with the aim of reverse-engineering capability and learnings back into the main estate; an aim often missed.

I sense that our traditional direct insurer business model is likely to look less like a manufacturer and more like a retailer, with a mix of strategic partnerships that help provide the right edge. What will remain true is the customer's expectation of great service with a brand and product that gives sufficient assurance, at the right price: we just need to adapt how that is delivered.

It's clear that the much-maligned legacy system problem is one that doesn't wash much these days.

Many insurers are faced with the multi-faceted challenge of... Full Blog post>>


Kate Greenstock

Kate Greenstock
design director, Pancentric

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How designers will take over the insurance industry

I imagine you scoffed at this blog title. In fact, you're probably ready to switch off entirely. However, bear with me a little longer - I think you'll find it useful.

If you haven't noticed, designers are already taking over the business world, and that is truest at the point where digital, technology and innovation meet.

Apple, with its long history of innovative products and services is a stand out example. The Google Ventures team - with their ‘design sprint' - are having an increasing significant influence across the Alphabet portfolio. And then there is IBM, who have fully embraced the power of design thinking to unlock the potential of its big data capabilities in solving real world problems.

Bringing things into a sharper insurance focus, Oscar the health insurance ‘start-up' that is making waves in the US (valued at $2.7bn - £1.9bn - after this week's latest round of funding), addresses the importance of design directly in its tagline: "We're revolutionising health insurance through technology, data and design".

At this point, it's worth taking a moment to consider what a designer is... Full blog post >>


Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift,
director of content,
Insurance Post

Tweet Swifty @insuranceswifty

Post Digital Insurance Collective:

Aviva CDO Brem - digital needs its own P&L to make it a board room reality

To succeed in the digital space insurer boards need to have the "guts" to make it a strategic priority, pull capital in from elsewhere to prove it, give it its own profit and loss "teeth" and build a few icons to underline a commitment to the cause.

Those were among the suggestions of Aviva's chief digital officer Andrew Brem, speaking at the first Post Digital Insurance Collective meeting last week (11 March) in London... Full blog post >>

Insurers need 'massive mind-shift' to create Amazon one click revolution, claims Aviva's Brem

Insurers need to focus on the "ultimate tailoring" of their offerings and take the plunge on "appification", if they are going to compete with online giants like Amazon... Full blog post >>

Design thinking, feeling uncomfortable and three centuries of caffeine fuelled innovation

Following last week's Digital Insurance Collective meeting, I promised to put together a blog consisting of my top eight take homes from my discussions and observations. So here are my thoughts... Full blog post >>


Steve Mendel

Steven Mendel,
CEO and co-founder, Bought By Many

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Five reasons insurance incumbents secretly think they aren't going to get disrupted

I was privileged to be able to attend a roundtable discussion this week on innovation in the insurance space and found the conversation surprising.
The discussion started well with attendees building a list of the key attributes of the successful insurance offering of the future, namely (and no surprises here):

• Mobile
• Data rich
• Built around consumer social groups
• Customers doing more for themselves

All of which has been well documented elsewhere, and which we, at Bought By Many, have believed from our outset.

The debate then took a more worrying turn... Full blog post >>


James York

James York, innovator-at-large, Worry+Peace

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Insurance needs your expertise to change - If you don't believe me, Google it...

With so many eyeballs on the insurtech space, hope has been kindled for innovation - but before we all get swept away with the tide of opportunity - let's do what all good insurance folk do best, and look for reality behind the hype. Is there a chance that some new smiles and nods of encouragement are coming from frenemies? It's time to see your true value and run with it.

Let's digress for a second. This week it was announced that Google Compare was to be moth-balled in the UK and US from the end of March. Whilst many will be breathing a sigh of relief, crying "sweet reprieve", it's worth considering Apple's 2009 acquisition of Lala - a music streaming pioneer. It has many parallels to Google's dabbling with Car insurance and a date with Admiral.

Firstly, music was a core revenue stream for Apple - iTunes was the dominant mode and acquiring this new type of music distribution made sense. It bought Apple time to assimilate and learn something it didn't do or probably strategically buy into, yet. Lala fans wept as their beloved system was sucked up, mucked up and mothballed. Yet, last summer, Apple Music emerged from the ashes. Six full years after Lala was eaten - it was spat out as a mashup of Apple's core products and more.

Google, makes a ton, literally a ton of gold from insurance keywords every day. Unlike Apple, it chose to assimilate and rapidly test the acquisition of Beat The Quote far more eagerly - following a gutsy £37.7m bet. An early variant emerged and has now since been mothballed. Whilst Google is infamous for brutally chopping projects - it's "X" division actually invented a new way to "vertically farm" only to kill the project because they couldn't get it to work with rice, the world's staple - they have a tell. All that opportunity is left to die because the scale product, the fabled moonshot, was out of reach... Full blog post >>


Dr. Stuart Booth, UK Director of Digital, RSA.

Stuart Booth

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The importance of design-led thinking.

Working in digital people talk to me a lot about technology. They assume I'm into gadgets and such like, burying myself in code and circuit boards into the wee small hours. In fact I'm no technologist. I'm actually a psychologist and I'm much more interested in understanding people, their needs and behaviours than I am in the latest mobile phone or home gaming console.

Technology is fundamental to what digital people like me do, but only as a supporter of the people who use it. perhaps even more important than technology or psychology is what glues the two together - design-led thinking, a way of identifying and solving people's problems which is central to a digital way of working.

The design profession is relatively new to insurance and, for the most part, its remit has been superficial. The traditional approach to insurance tends to be insurer-centric, focusing on tried-and-tested pricing and underwriting models. As a result, design often comes at the end of the process. Its brief is therefore focused on making things pretty and ensuring sufficient usability for a customer to get a quote.

In constraining design in this way we are missing a trick. When given proper support, design-led thinking can influence things in fundamental ways, with much more effective, sometimes game-changing results.

Take the iPad as an example. If Apple's designers had simply taken the technology it had always been given and made it pretty we would have ended up with, at best, an attractive laptop computer. By putting design-led thinking at the heart of their process, they were able to step back from traditional notions of what a computer is to understand user problems within real world contexts... Full blog post >>