The InsurTech summer is here & the livin’ is easy!
In his last post before the summer recess, Rick Huckstep looks at some of the InsurTech firms he has featured over recent months. From distribution to data, it’s all about the customer in a digital world. With updates on their progress in the pursuit of digital innovation, this issue of InsurTech Weekly includes comments from InsurTech founders on their latest news.
The atomisation of insurance
I first featured Trov back in November when I was writing about InsurTech for the Daily Fintech. The full article is here and is based on several discussions I had had with CEO, Scott Walchek. At the time, Trov was preparing for its first launch with Suncorp in Australia and Scott was excited and proud of the platform they’d built.
And he had every right to be. Trov is a unique product that is designed and built for the demand economy. Where agency has shifted to the consumer and insurance moves from blanket coverage to precise, immediate, as needed cover.
Trov is built for moments – things and location that come together to create unlimited micro-moments for insurance. Scott calls this “atomisation”. And for Trov, this is all about finding the lowest unit of measure they can price, build policies and engage the user with.
Over this past weekend, I caught up with Scott, who gave me this update.
“We’re live in Australia and people are “swiping to protect” their personal electronics, filing claims, and adding more things to their Trovs. We’re satisfied with the early results and are gearing up toward launching consumer campaigns to increase awareness. In Australia, consumers will begin to see Trov’s marketing campaigns in test mode across a few popular channels.
“We’re also expanding the number of categories of products Trov will protect. This is an on-going activity as our customers are daily indicating their preferences by their engagement with the app.
“We’re now in pre-release ramp-up for the UK market with AXA. A significant difference between Australia and UK is that Australia is cash settlement only. In the UK, we’ll add replacement to the claims process.
“We’ll push at least two substantial releases that introduce (among other enhancements) a new home-page that will encourage new ways to add items to a Trov, greatly enhanced search capabilities, and the first instance of what we’ve hinted to in the past – Smart Protection.
“It’s already public knowledge that we’ll be in the US in 2017. During the next few months we’ll cement the relationships and structures necessary to set us on that path.
“Finally, we’re aggressively expanding the development of Trov’s eco-system (in addition to insurers) – attracting merchants, manufacturers, financial services partners, and developers each of whom can leverage Trov’s inherent benefits. Joining us to head the effort is Neil Sands, who left his position as CXO at Salesforce to run the global partnerships program. Big win.”
InsurTech innovation in insurance will be data driven
Atidot were featured in this article for InsurTech Weekly published back in March. I had Skyped with co-founder and CEO, Dror Katzav who had explained their approach to data science. He’d told me,“Insurers (or rather, actuaries) are not doing all that they could with the data they have.”
He then went on to show me how they were taking a different approach to the traditional linear statistical modelling techniques used by actuaries. By looking at the relationships between completely different and seemingly unconnected data sets, patterns of behaviour could be identified. From this new understanding of customer behaviour, rating tables could be significantly improved.
I caught up with Dror this week and he gave me this update, “It’s been a busy few months since the article in InsurTech Weekly. We’ve signed a beta agreement with one of the biggest life insurers in Israel to pilot the platform.
“We’ve strengthened the team, hiring the previous Israeli commissionaire of insurance, one of the best chief actuaries in Israel. We’re closing out a seed round with strategic investors from Israel financial services and one of the largest US insurance hedge funds.
“Our goal is to build a platform that uses the best machine learning algorithms and tools to provide results in fluent actuary – shown in actuarial tables, providing actuarial insights and helping the company’s stake holders to value and act upon a business strategy.”
The Year of the Chatbot
Just after the Startupbootcamp InsurTech demo day in April, I had coffee and cake with two of the three founding amigos behind Spixii. The timing was perfect because it was about a week after Facebook made the announcement that it was opening up the Messenger platform to commercial chatbots.
With 900 million users on Messenger, that’s a sizeable market and perfect for artificial intelligence and the move towards automated underwriting. If you need convincing, just look at WeChat and its 700 million users in China!
You can read the Spixii story in the full article here.
Having just been ‘spixiified’ on twitter, I caught up with the amigos who gave me this update,”We have reached a huge pipeline of insurance partners willing to work with us to pilot the bot. The number of insurers approaching us in just 2 months is 34, all top global names!
“Pilots will start in the summer and we should be able to launch in Autumn / early winter with some insurance products ‘powered by SPIXII’ in two countries.
“And, hot off the press, we are thrilled to announce that SPIXII will work together with Allianz via their accelerator, Accélérateur Allianz in France. It coincides exactly with the next phase of the development of SPIXII going from minimum viable product to product-market fit. With the help of Allianz, SPIXII is flying quicker to the goal of offering customers a completely new way of buying insurance!”
Allianz’s 5-month accelerator programme – also sponsored by European rail experts voyages-sncf.com and Allianz Worldwide Partners – is designed to support the growth of promising, innovative start-ups. Through it, SPIXII will be introduced to a network of mentors and industry experts in addition to backers and major investors.
Turning insurance on its head
The moment of truth is when a customer makes a claim. But the industry has found itself spending more money on winning customers than on servicing them. And this lack of focus on what matters to the customer means insurance is inefficient for the insurer and a raw deal for the consumer.
At the end of March, I featured London based Claimable in this article about their digital claims platform. Having met with CEO and founder, Miles Tinsley, the article focused on the InsurTech led shift towards self-service in the claims process.
Not only does this save the insurers a ton of money, it is also very popular with consumers who simply want to know “what’s going on?”
At the time of writing this week’s post, Miles sent me an update. Claimable have just soft-launched Version 3 of their digital claims platform in the last week. This is “huge news for us” was how Miles introduced the update.
He went on,“I say “soft launch” merely because we haven’t made a point of broadcasting it just yet, but would love to be included in your article and that can kick-off our wider roll-out!”
You heard it here first!
Power to the People
A favourite subject of mine in InsurTech is Peer-to-Peer Insurance, or People to People as Paul Anderson of Guevara calls it. As the P2P Insurance model has evolved since 2010, we can now see 3 clear waves of maturity. I call these Distribution, Carrier and Self-Governing. Wave 4 is just around the corner and will see the emergence of platforms that attract alternative finance from retail investors into the risk capital pool.
The Self-Governing wave is really interesting because it relies on the power of a network for the pooling of shared risk. And it also appears, although not yet proven, that it can address the key weakness in the P2P model. Which is scale.
You only have to look at Facebook. This is a platform that supports 1.6 billion “customers” and yet for every one of them, the experience of being on Facebook is highly personal. Facebook have created a global network of communities.
With Lemonade getting closer to opening it’s doors for business with its reciprocal exchange model, I predict it will not be long before we see P2P insurance considered by mainstream insurers.
I covered this subject recently in this article, called “Introducing the 3rd Wave of P2P Insurance.” In the article I featured Teambrella and a conversation I’d had with founder Alex Paperno.
He told me recently that Teambrella are going to release a Demo version of their platform later this month. The purpose of the demo is to allow users to easily grasp the concepts behind Teambrella’s P2P insurance model.
Alex told me about the demo, “When a user joins a simulated team she is able to submit a claim right away, handle another one, vote for a team rule, etc. We hope that the demo mode would be of use by both consumers and insurance professionals.”
There are some easy to follow, explanatory videos on the Teambrella blog page that are well worth watching to understand the self-governing model better.
InsurTech for the sharing, on-demand economy
Just before Christmas, I wrote this article about Cuvva to coincide with the launch of their hourly car insurance product. I had met founder, Freddy Macnamara for a coffee in London and he’d shown me how to use Cuvva.
In about 10 minutes, I’d downloaded, registered and bought an hour’s cover to drive someone else’s car. Along with Trov, Cuvva is a perfect example of a mobile user experience and makes a mockery of many of the digital efforts from mainstream insurers.
I recently caught up with Freddy and I asked him “what’s new for Cuvva?”
Freddy: “We have just launched our Sharing Economy offering! You can now borrow a car from a friend right in the app. If you are an owner you can share your car with friends and ask for a contribution towards running costs.”
Me: This Social Garage looks like a big jump for Cuvva, what’s behind it?
Freddy: “Since we launched 6 months ago, we have been carefully exploring how our customers get value from Cuvva. It has been clear from the outset that people use Cuvva to create a level of trust between friends that lowers the frictional barrier to borrowing a car. We realised that we were in the unique position to be able to lower further this barrier by telling you which of your friends were prepared to lend out their car. We also found that people with cars would love to lend them out, but only really to friends.”
Me: The secret of success is to know what problem you’re solving. Do you think there is a need for this product?
Freddy: “There are 15m people in the UK with driving licences and no car, and there are 6m cars in the UK that are driven fewer than 4000 miles a year. That is a huge amount of latent demand and redundant supply, just sitting there, it’s pretty mad!”
Me: The lending out of cars (peer to peer car sharing) has yet to really take off, why do you think that is?
Freddy: “There are three things we need to do to match these two enormous markets of buyers and sellers, that no-one has really nailed yet;
1) Close the information a-symmetry (tell buyers who the sellers are, and vice versa) and;
2) Create a zero friction environment (do it for free!)
3) Create a platform of trust on which that can happen.
We have nailed the legal issues by providing the insurance and by keeping the market between direct friends we can leverage your social graph to solve for trust. What is more we can do it for free as the service will support our hourly insurance product.”
Cuvva are definitely one’s to watch!
Looking for the needle in a haystack
I love the Praedicat story.
Which is why it is such a mystery to me that the article I wrote about them is one of the least read of all my posts! Maybe I had an off day when I wrote this article entitled “Praedicat make the world a safer place”.
And the reason I love the Praedicat story is that it gets to the very heart of how the application of technology will change the world. This is a story of artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data.
It’s a story about technology doing something that could not be done on a human scale!
Praedicat have read 22 million peer-reviewed pieces of scientific research. And then cataloged and matched it to look for patterns of emerging risks.
This is like looking for the needle in a haystack when you don’t know what the needle looks like or which one of the 22 million haystacks it is in!
I caught up with CEO Bob Reville recently. He told me, “Our biggest news is that we are launching the commercial release of our software at the beginning of July.
“Everything is still looking good to meet that date, so that means the insurance market is about to see its first full-fledged general liability catastrophe model.“
Bob is in London this week and he’s promised me a beer. I hope to make it because I don’t want to miss the next episode in the Praedicat story!
InsurTech Weekly is on a Summer Holiday
This is my last regular post for InsurTech Weekly before the summer recess.
Like Cliff, I’m getting in my bus and heading for warmer climes, although my destination is Southern Spain, not Athens, and is permanent, not just a holiday.
Thank you for reading and sharing my posts. It is always satisfying to know that someone out there likes them!
Have a great summer, Rick.
The author, Rick Huckstep, is an InsurTech thought leader and editor of InsurTech Weekly for The Digital Insurer.