Article Synopsis :
InsurTech has been attracting a great deal of interest from founders, investors, and incumbents. Total deal activity has increased seven-fold over the past decade, averaging $1.7 billion a year from 2014 to 2016, compared to $250 million a year from 2011 to 2013, with a good chunk coming from insurers and reinsurers. The number of resinurer investments in InsurTech, for example, has risen from one in 2012, to an even hundred in 2016.
“InsurTech Caught on the Radar: Hype or the Next Frontier?” from Oliver Wyman analyses the current Insurtech landscape via a framework matching the insurance industry value chain—from proposition, to distribution, and operations. Within these three segments, the report identifies nineteen distinct InsurTech business model categories and then concludes with who is most likely to reach the next frontier of success – InsurTechs, established (re)insurance players, pure tech players, or attackers from adjacent areas.
Proposition (19% of total investment): This segment covers companies developing new insurance-based products and services within six business model categories (# of InsurTechs covered):
- Low Cost (11)
- Situational (13)
- Community-based (17)
- From “Insured” to “Protected” (14)
- Risk Partner (4)
- Digital Risks (5)
Distribution (42% of total investment): This segment concerns selling insurance-based products and services to customers. It includes B2B and B2C models, as well as direct-to-customer approaches. Several of these business models also make use of comparison engines in one form or another. The eight categories in this section are:
- D2C (12)
- PCW (Price Comparison Websites) (13)
- Affiliate Integration (4)
- Corporate Platform (13)
- B2C Online Broker / VCW (Value Comparison Websites) (15)
- B2B Online Broker / VCW (11)
- Financial Partner (11)
- Life Digitizers (10)
Operations (39% of total investment): This segment concerns enabling and running insurance businesses and the relevant processes within them. The go-to-market approach of business models in this segment is to position themselves as playing a vital part in improving the efficiency and capabilities of how a risk cover is (digitally) “manufactured”. The five categories in this sector are:
- Digital Sales Enabling (14)
- Underwriting (11)
- Service and Administration (11)
- Claims (14)
- Balance Sheet and Financial Resource Management (6)
The report’s assessment logic with respect to predicting success is stringent and straightforward, along two parameters:
- Market Potential: What is the size of the targeted premium pool? How much of it does a given business model address?
- Chances of Success:
- Consistency: To what extent does the business model match the natural behaviour of the involved parties?
- Differentiation: To what extent can a player erect sufficient and sustainable barriers to entry protecting its business model from competition, be it from other InsurTechs or incumbents?
While the specific findings are too comprehensive to summarize here, general observations include:
- The levels of market attractiveness and start-up activity vary for each category. Relative market potential is not necessarily an indicator for volume of start-up activity.
- In certain categories digitally-savvy incumbents or external entrants are more likely to play the dominant role going forward. Predatory InsurTechs may become prey.
- Some of the more promising categories in terms of market potential have not attracted a lot of start-up activity to date. Radical new ways of solving existing customer problems will likely emerge (versus mere “digital upgrades” of old solutions).
The report predicts a maturing of the digitalization movement in the insurance industry in the very near future. Certain overcrowded segments will see a shake out while a second wave of InsurTechs enter as yet unexploited segments. These new players will likely bring more insurance savvy, focusing more keenly on demand-side thinking to find creative solutions for customer challenges. At the same time, incumbents will likely focus on collaboration over disruption.
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Digital Insurer's CommentsThe insurance industry is undergoing a structural transformation, maybe the most radical in its history. We expect the industry will look much different a decade from now. Process digitalization, self-learning technologies, changing customer behaviours, and abundant investment capital have all given rise to InsurTechs. And a decade out, InsurTechs—at least some of them—will be mainstream. Some of them may even be household names.
But, as this report highlights so well, InsurTechs are themselves in for a bumpy ride. Though bullish overall, we agree that there is a considerable mismatch between the level of InsurTech activity, market potential, and the chances for success in several business model segments. We expect a shakeout in certain overcrowded categories, particularly the proposition and distribution segments.
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