Insurtech — the great enabler

By Anna Game-Lopata | Vol: 41 Issue: 2 | Jun 2018
Insurtech the great enabler

If you’ve been wondering what the rapid rise of insurtech might mean for your business, you can be confident that the changes ahead will be for the better.

Unveiled at ANZIIF’s 2018 Insurtech Conference, a new EY study shows that 65 per cent of technology companies in Australia and New Zealand are enabling the traditional insurance value proposition.

While our region represents just one per cent of the global market, and the majority of its insurtech companies are yet to turn a profit, the ecosystem is growing very fast. With more than AU$10 million raised in the last three years, it represents a significant launch pad into the Asia–Pacific region, Europe and the US.

The EY study shows that the vision underpinning the approach from start-ups in Australia and New Zealand is similar.

They are enabling the delivery of new products with better customer propositions, more innovative marketing and distribution solutions, and more accurate pricing and underwriting agility.

They are also championing efficient administration along with smarter loss prevention and remediation.

GROWING TRUST FOR BROKERS

In the broking sector, Advisr is building the reputation of brokers and connecting them with customers.

CEO and founder Andy Jamieson says the driver behind his business is the fundamental challenge that nine out of 10 “people on the street don’t trust insurance brokers”.

“So, what do you do when you have a big problem like this? Well, you face it head on,” Andy says. “We support brokers to really renew that trust with customers.”

Andy says the platform works by creating value through connections, aggregating a collective presence rather than focusing on an individual.

Brokers on the platform receive public ratings and reviews, which can be valuable feedback that they can use to cultivate business. In addition, the site promotes understanding and education as part of the selling process.

EDUCATION JOURNEY

“We know from our experience as both sellers and consumers that if someone’s trying to hard sell, we know it and it feels uncomfortable. But if the seller is willing to educate us, we go on the journey and often end up buying.”

To do this, the Advisr platform helps brokers to promote their areas of expertise by syndicating strong, relevant content about those specific risks.

“When customers are looking for a broker that they can trust, they can come to [our site] with questions, they can read great articles that are focused on their problem, and connect with the broker that’s best for them – not just the one nearest to them – or someone they’ve heard about at a barbeque, but someone that they can actually get a feel for and what it might be like to work with them.”

REPUTATION AND PERSONAL BRAND

Through that process, Andy says, reputation and personal brand are leveraged for powerful outcomes.

“Brokers that have reviews and that post content get 20 times the number of views and engagement from customers,” he says. “Customers are actually looking for this [kind of approach]. We have thousands of customers coming to our site every month and connecting with brokers, so we know it’s real.

“Customers want people they can trust and independent platforms like ours to help them make those connections.”

In general insurance, Factfin is tackling endemic underinsurance in small businesses. With a background in banking, CEO and co-founder Paul Reynolds observed that small business clients seek credit to solve their cash flow issues without understanding the risks. Meanwhile, banks do not share risk information with their clients.

Paul says 13 per cent of small businesses don’t think they need insurance, 73 per cent are dissatisfied with brokers and 60 per cent source their insurance online, while a further 30 per cent don’t bother shopping around because they think there are no better options.

“I don’t think it’s that the brokers are doing a bad job – the products are not bad. I just think the customers don’t understand what their risks are and what type of products they need,” Paul says.

THE RIGHT INSURANCE PRODUCT

Paul got involved in small business risk analytics as customers started adopting MYOB or Xero cloud accounting, which made real-time data readily available.

“As a banker with a loan application from a customer, I’d get a financial statement from last year. Now, I can get up-to-date financial data. I can actually start seeing month-to-month trends that show whether a business is growing or at risk.

“So, what we’re now focusing on is analysing that customer’s data [and] presenting those risks to them, alerting them to the impact of those risks to their business and why they need insurance products.”

In a partnership with Allianz, Paul says Factfin is now looking at how it might offer real-time cash flow financing in the same way single invoice cover can be offered.

“We can actually look up buyers that have invoices against them and offer those insureds real-time single insurance,” he says. “We’re now looking at how we can deliver a similar service through finance companies.”

As a result of this work, Paul says the Factfin offer segued into general insurance.

“General insurance is all about protecting customers’ cash flow. When an event happens, it protects it against that loss. What Factfin has developed is a monitoring and smart alert system that starts with connecting a customer up to the appropriate insurance product.”

THE QUESTION OF LIFE INSURANCE

While the size of the global life insurance industry is about US$2.5 trillion based on GWP, compared to just under US$1.5 trillion for general insurance (GI), investment in insurtechs over the last three to five years has been skewed towards general insurance, particularly personal lines, with a ratio of about 70 to 30 per cent.

According to Insurtech Conference panel speaker Angat Sandhu, who is a partner at Oliver Wyman, this has been changing over the last year, but the fact that the life (and health) sectors haven’t attracted as much investment as GI is telling.

He says the complexity of the industry, with its ‘promises’ that last for 50–70 years, along with a changing regulatory environment make it unattractive for a lot of start-ups.

Secondly there’s less proximity to the end customer. Because life insurance is still largely distributed through intermediaries, it’s not a high engagement product. If you look at the evolution of investments made by start-ups in other sectors, in banking and payments and in asset management, what’s attracted the first wave of investment has been solving simple customer engagement problems.”

CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT AND RISK MITIGATION

In our region, this focus on achieving customer engagement and reducing customer risk has spurred the development of two fascinating life insurance start-ups, Sureify and Springday.

Sureify is a cloud-based platform focused on improving the digital buying process for potential policyholders and helping insurance companies engage better with existing customers.

The Sureify platform integrates with an accelerated underwriting engine that powers the flow of application questions to create an easy-to-use buying experience and speeds up the acceptance or otherwise of applicants.

The platform can also integrate with third party data sources such as electronic health records. This provides the ability to minimise the number of applicants being rejected from the system, pushing more prospects through to purchase.

While Sureify is currently targeting the life insurance market, Asia Pacific Managing Director Philip Blatt says that the technologies utilised could easily be applied to health and general insurance products.

Like Factfin, Sureify collects and aggregates data streams with the customer’s permission, but rather than accessing financial records, Sureify targets fitness tracking devices, social media, geolocation and smartphone telemetry.

CHANGING BEHAVIOUR

Data flows back to the insurer-controlled platform via a white-labelled app that policyholders can download. This allows insurance companies to segment their customer groups and understand them in much greater detail.

“Insurance companies can then translate that understanding into targeted communication such as sharing relevant information and offering rewards or challenges to incentivise a change in people’s behaviour,” Philip says.

“Insurance company clients are starting with fairly simple health programs, encouraging customers using the app to take actions such as walking a certain number of steps, cycling a certain distance or sleeping a certain number of hours.

“The concept is very much around transforming health-related data that’s collected from multiple digital sources, including IoT devices, into communication that motivates people to live happier, healthier and fuller lives for the benefit of both policyholders and the insurance company.”

Insurers can also show the right new product offers to the in-force customers who will be the most interested in them.

THE ISSUE OF PRIVACY

Working with multiple top-tier life insurers mostly in the US, Philip says Sureify has had great success in getting customers to download and use the app, with 75 per cent of customers using it at least every month and 35 per cent using it every day.

Philip, who has a background in insurance underwriting, broking and distribution both in the US and Asia, says that the issue of privacy is very pertinent. However, global statistics show that people will willingly give up data about themselves if there is a benefit.

“If you’re using devices such as Apple Health, Apple Watch or Fitbit, you’re releasing a load of data,” he says. “[Fitness tracking companies] know more about your health than your family does. But you’re doing it, consciously or subconsciously, because there’s some kind of benefit.

“For the insurance industry, the challenge is to demonstrate the benefit, whether that’s around reduced pricing or providing knowledge to different segments of customers who fit specific behavioural profiles.

“Even providing simple rewards for the results of a fitness challenge is effective. So, I think the crux of this issue is making sure insurers are providing enough benefits to incentivise people to release their data.”

HEALTH AND WELLBEING

Springday, founded by Georgie Drury, is also a platform that tackles health and wellbeing, and aims to partner with life insurance companies looking to differentiate their product offer and reduce exposure by improving health outcomes for their customers.

With its first corporate platform launch in 2012 and continued growth over the following few years, Springday went on to raise AU$500,000 seed funding in 2017, open offices in New Zealand, Manilla, Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong, and acquire award-winning content and marketplace vendor Happy Body At Work.

Georgie says she is proud to be on target for revenue of AU$1.5 million in FY2018.

“Springday facilitates better communication between insurance companies and their customers, and helps them transition from being a payer into a health and wellbeing partner,” she says.

“We do this by bringing in a technology stack, which is a white-labelled platform with a companion app so the insurer can brand it the way they want.”

Springday then undertakes a diagnostic to understand the circumstances and issues for individual customers using a validation check tool and integrated wearable technology. This provides the insurer with a score for areas to move on with specific customers.

“Using artificial intelligence [AI], we can then empower the user to make a personalised, tailored journey within our marketplace, which is gamified and filled with a variety of programs and challenges from our huge array of wellbeing experts.

“When a client opens the Springday app, our aim is to enable them to do something achievable that’s going to drive better health outcomes.”

THE 3-H POLICY

Georgie says Springday is currently in the proof of concept phase with Allianz in Malaysia, looking to drive engagement with its members.

“Allianz is also looking to use Springday for its ‘3-H’ policyholders. If the customer has high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a high body mass index [BMI], they’re insured at a higher premium. But if the customer can reduce one of these health indicators by changing their behaviour over a six-month period, their premium may be reduced.”

Georgie says overall, Springday programs show statistically significant changes in sleep, mood, BMI and weight loss, and the initial results with Allianz are promising.

She adds that the future of Springday is driven by deep learning and powered by AI. “The more data we get into the system, the better the results can be.”

To that end, Springday will invest in a cyber psychology study at the end of 2018 to better understand the responses people have to different types of messaging.

“For example, there’s no word for depression in China, so we can’t keep using the same language to talk about health and wellbeing. We really need to offer tailored messaging based on who we are as individuals.”

Georgie adds that she is extremely passionate about exporting Australian expertise to Asia.

“We have a well-developed health and wellbeing culture in Australia, but in Asia the rise of diabetes and other health issues is just beginning. We can really be the leaders in this space.”

IMPROVING LIFE INSURANCE CLAIMS

A much younger insurtech than Springday in the life insurance sector is ClaimSpace, which is targeting the claims experience for both customers and assessors.

CEO and co-founder Gilberto Spencer, who has a background in medical and disability life insurance claims, says he’s very passionate about people, process improvement and customer satisfaction.

“I co-founded ClaimSpace because I saw a huge opportunity to bring insurance companies and customers together,” Gilberto says. “In my experience working on the frontline with customers, the root of the problems we have comes back to communication. The claims process needs to be clearer and more effective to deliver on the promise of service when the customers need it the most.”

Gilberto says that from a claims assessor point of view, it’s frustrating to be uploading the claims without the right tools to give a customer comfort or peace of mind.

“From the customer’s perspective, it’s really tough to navigate the unnecessarily complicated claims process, especially if they’re distressed. And it not only affects the customer, but their family as well.

“I’ve seen many cases of complaints and disputes escalating and even media scandals, which are totally unnecessary. This is what we do – we bridge the gap and bring everyone together.”

TRANSPARENCY SOLVES THE PAIN

ClaimSpace solves pain points in the process using a digital dashboard that allows insurers to manage their whole portfolio of claims at once. Each claim has an overview section that is fully visible to customers and providers such as medical professionals.

“The insurer’s workflow is fully customisable and transparent,” explains Strategy and Operations executive Jeremy Chow. “Documentation can be shared on the stakeholder access page, which ensures third parties are all on-board.”

Customers can load documents and view the process on the platform step by step via their mobile phone, including any further requirements of their claim. If they need help, immediate access to their case assessor is provided by SMS.

In addition, the system seamlessly integrates with any form of insurance legacy system.

Founded in 2017, ClaimSpace launched its first pilot in December and is currently in talks to start another pilot with a major insurance company. The start-up is also exploring a partnership with a multinational reinsurer.

GETTING INSIDE MOTOR VEHICLE CLAIMS

Also targeting the claims process and experience in the general insurance sector, Hello Claims is an insurtech with runs on the board with its end-to-end fulfilment service for motor insurance claimants.

Established five years ago by Nick Herford, a panel beater and spray painter by trade, Hello Claims addresses the gap in the uptake of technology to assist the settlement and assessment of motor claims.

After a leg-up from a government grant for innovation, Hello Claims wasted no time in utilising data to analyse the claims lifecycle and building partnerships to deliver market-leading repair costs and operational efficiencies.

“Service providers to the insurance industry need to be constantly evolving with their clients, and I am of the view that the industry has not kept up with the needs of the customer,” Nick says. “I didn’t want to just sit back and watch the demise happen, and that was the driving factor behind the start of Hello Claims.”

The insurtech’s technology manages all the stakeholders involved in a motor vehicle claim, from first notification of loss through to providing updates for brokers, insurance third parties and tow truck operators and arranging hire cars. It oversees repair costs, the payment of claims and follows up with customers to ensure their satisfaction.

Coupled with its national assessment coverage and repair network, Hello Claims’s online platform caters for a broad range of vehicles, including passenger vehicles, heavy vehicles (trucks and trailers), agricultural equipment (harvesters and tractors), mining and specialist equipment, caravans and motorcycles, and also for liability claims.

ALERTS KEEP EVERYONE INFORMED

Automated SMS and email alerts are sent to insurers, brokers, repairers and third parties throughout the life of the claim to update each of the parties regularly and empower them to check on the status of their claim 24/7 via the Hello Claims platform.

The platform also offers a live management dashboard for reporting all types of data, which can be managed by clients at any time, using any device.

The proof is in the pudding. Nick cites an average reduction in claims life of 60 per cent, while claims repair and cost leakage have been consistently reduced by over 30 per cent.

The average turnaround time for assessments is 48 hours, and Nick predicts that the next level for Hello Claims will be settling claims in under 24 hours.

OWNING THE CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP

New Zealand-based AI company FaceMe is revolutionising the customer experience in a different way.

Its digital employee is an immediately accessible, personalised and human-like interface that provides answers, handles requests, supplies information, or simply connects clients to key customer support.

Each customer’s personalised digital employee – whether male or female – can hear and see them, recognise and greet them by name, and has the ability to learn important facts about them such as the way they like to converse, whether it’s in short, concise bursts or longer, more detailed sentences.

Available 24/7, FaceMe’s digital employees are accessible via mobile, browser, phone and kiosk, and they’re gaining momentum.

“The digital employee places customers at the centre of every business transaction and enables businesses to truly value their customers across any channel, any time, anywhere,” explains FaceMe Global Vice President Sales, Nick Sokolich.

For the insurance industry, the platform enables automated, ‘old school’, one-on-one relationship management.

He asserts that in five to seven years, only 15 per cent of our interactions with organisations will involve engaging with another human.

FaceMe is currently working with one of the largest global underwriters in the US, whose aim is to reduce that figure down to 5 per cent in five years. “There’s often a lot of concern around this, but it actually creates a lot of opportunity,” he says.

“[The underwriter FaceMe is working with] firmly understands that this is an age where customer experience is at an all-time high. Product or price is no longer the number one brand differentiator for organisations – it’s customer experience.”

REGULAR CUSTOMER DILEMMA

Nick Sokolich argues that customers have rising expectations as they transition from being a new customer to a regular one.

“The longer I’m a customer, the more I expect to get value [and] the more I expect organisations to understand me. But customers are often getting the same standard of service that they got when they first became a customer.”

He adds that organisations are missing the mark when it comes to automating customer touchpoints.

“They are investing heavily [in] AI, self-service online portals, online forms and chatbots to improve customer experience,” he says. “This won’t increase NPS [net promoter score], as research shows you need ‘wow moments’ and meaningful experiences that move customers to feel their value. What’s required is a new strategy.

“The winners will be the ones that own the customer relationship in this way.”

RISK MANAGEMENT FROM THE INSIDE

With the threat of cyber attacks at the top of the agenda in our region, the founders of CyberRisk saw an opportunity to create a service that performs risk prevention ‘from the inside’ and, to date, the company is the only one to take this approach.

Once placed inside an organisation’s IT system, the CyberRisk sensor technology searches for internal, external and web vulnerabilities. It then generates a score for each category and alerts the business owner to the results, along with suggestions for actions to take, in a clearly presented, easy-to-read report.

An automated long-term process, scoring starts with the first report and incorporates the customer’s ability to validate the organisation’s value proposition and to respond to feedback before the process begins again.

While the security industry caters to large corporations, CyberRisk focuses on small businesses it believes are most in need.

THE BUSINESS OF LOSS PREVENTION

A finalist in the DXC Springboard Insurtech competition, CyberRisk aims to reduce claims for insurers and help reduce claim payouts.

Co-founder Leong Wang has over 18 years of experience in information technology and security in the banking finance and retail sectors.

He says safeguarding businesses is the company’s one mission and goal.

“The demand for interconnected devices coupled with the appetite for crime [means that] cyber risk [is] here to stay,” Leon says.

“In its in first six weeks, the Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) scheme saw 63 incidents, mainly in the industries of health, service provision, law, accounting and finance; 51 per cent could be attributed to human error, while 44 per cent were the result of malicious attacks.”

Leon adds that the cyber insurance industry is rapidly growing to meet the need.

“CyberRisk is in the business of prevention. We help prevent the losses that lead to insurance claims, thereby reducing the cost of insurance for everyone.”

Leon says making the customer experience seamless is next on the agenda for CyberRisk, along with branding the cyber risk score and working towards industry peer scores.

A ROLE FOR REINSURERS

But what of reinsurance in the Australian and New Zealand insurtech ecosystems? According to Insurtech Conference panellist Andy Rear, who is the Chief Executive of Munich Re subsidiary Digital Partners, the role of reinsurers sits with capital.

To date, both of the world’s largest reinsurers, Munich Re and Swiss Re, are active investors in tech start-ups.

For its part, Munich Re set up Digital Partners to develop new approaches to insurance products and rethink ways to sell them.

“Our business model helps insurtech partners to flourish, while showing the industry how it can improve customer service in Australia, as in the rest of the world,” Andy says.

“Australia, though it is not the world’s biggest market, is one of the world’s most innovative, and we see many interesting insurtech ideas originating here.”

To date, Digital Partners has launched insurance programs with 17 tech start-ups.

Soon after its launch in 2016, the business signed up the app-based insurance provider Wrisk, an insurtech venture, to become its exclusive carrier for business underwritten in the UK, Europe and the US.

Digital Partners also provided funding to insurtech start-up Bought By Many, which sells personal lines insurance, sourcing its customers using social media and search data.

At the same time, Bought By Many signed a long-term insurance agreement with Munich Re and the Digital Partners’ business unit, encompassing underwriting, technology, carrier licences, regulatory permissions and venture capital.

Other investments made into insurance capacity, product development and data analytics include Next Insurance, Trov, NEOS and Slice Labs.

The Digital Partners program has a five-year plan to reach a profitable scale.

“The first ambition is to grow our profitable underwriting book. Beyond that, our main ambitions are to operate globally and to provide an end-to-end digital solution. So far, we are digital in every area except claims.”

Andy expects that, ultimately, the broker-insurer-reinsurer industry structure will break down into a customer-technology-capital model.

“That will lead to two basic industry players: customer brands, who may be brokers, insurers or just digital platforms, and wholesale balance sheets, who may be insurers or reinsurers, and who won’t manage customers directly.”

Digital Partners aims to be the prototype for this ‘wholesale balance sheet’ business. “We partner with digital brands, sometimes operating as a reinsurer, sometimes using primary paper. But we are always wholesale – we do not distribute to or manage customers ourselves or maintain a consumer brand.

“Currently we operate in the EU and the US, and we are looking at bringing this model to Australia as a reinsurer supporting an Australian insurer.”

BLOCKCHAIN AND SMART CONTRACTS

Two technologies that can be applied to any sector of insurance – blockchain and smart contracts – are yet to be utilised widely in Australia and New Zealand, but the overwhelming thinking out of this year’s Insurtech Conference is that they will very soon make their mark.

In Australia, Galileo Platforms isn’t an insurance-specific business, but its B2B platform is one that uses blockchain technology for sharing information and creating transparency for clients.

“Our business model is that we connect all the participants in the retail insurance supply chain, from the client to the distributor, to the insurer, the reinsurer and any other parties that they communicate with,” explains co-founder Annette King.

“Those parties could definitely include KYC [know your customer] and payment gateways, but they could also be medical providers, repair shops, builders, even airlines for airline delay insurance – anybody that’s helping serve that client can be connected on this platform, and everybody’s looking at just one single set of information relating to that retail client in real time.”

For Annette, Galileo Platforms solves the age-old problem of multiplication.

“If you can bring hundreds of personal interactions together so that everybody’s looking at the same information at the same time, then it will improve the client experience,” she says. “From a profitability point of view, you can completely cut through the rework in the value chain.”

In addition, blockchain supplies a single source of data that can be thoroughly interrogated with the application of machine learning and AI.

“This will either help companies market better and get a better uptake, produce better products that are more attractive, or drive profitability because you can see where the profit is being boosted or lost,” Annette says.

NZ$100 MILLION IN SIX MINUTES

Jason Roberts, Strategy and Innovation Lead for Augen Software in New Zealand, says the need to change the way the insurance industry works and connects with customers exists in New Zealand the same way it does in Australia, but funding ecosystems and venture capitalists are lacking.

“Despite this, we do have larger companies that are just beginning this iterative path to change and working out how they’re going to evolve.”

He points to Centrality, a blockchain-based company that raised NZ$100 million in six minutes.

“Centrality has now created an ecosystem that incorporates a number of businesses, including a New Zealand employee benefits insurance company, which is also expected to do an ICO [Initial Coin Offering].

“So, we have this environment where, born out of our need to do things differently, we’re looking overseas, exploring the opportunities and bringing them into the marketplace.”

PARAMETRIC INSURANCE

According to Avryl Lattin, Partner at Clyde & Co, the burgeoning area of smart contracts, blockchain and distributed ledger technologies led it to launch a consultancy, Clyde Code, to provide legal and technical advice to the insurance industry on its applications.

“Firstly, a common theme we’re seeing emerge globally is the type of [smart] contract that automatically executes a payment where certain parameters have been met,” Avryl says.

“For example, insurance monies are transferred virtually immediately on the occurrence of an event – such as travel insurance paying out following a flight delay.”

According to its website, AXA is the first major insurance group to offer this kind of parametric insurance through its product fizzy.

When a customer buys flight delay insurance on the fizzy platform, the purchase is recorded in a tamperproof network, the Ethereum blockchain, making the insurance contract equally tamperproof.

This smart contract is connected to global air traffic databases, so as soon as a delay of more than two hours is observed, compensation is triggered automatically.

“In this way, AXA has delegated the compensation decision to an independent network, aiming to strengthen the trust customers can have in AXA,” the website declares.

Additionally, Avryl says smart contracts allow transportation companies in the supply chain, such as ship owners, to monitor their cargo continuously and update insurance contracts in real time as conditions change.

A recent Australian example is that of the Commonwealth Bank and Wells Fargo, which, in 2016, were the first to use a blockchain technology smart contract and geolocation tracking devices to facilitate a transaction between Brighann Cotton (US) and Brighann Cotton Marketing Australia.

Once the cargo ship, en route from the US, reached Chinese waters, an automatic payment was triggered, allowing greater transparency, trust and efficiency for the each of the parties.

“We’re also seeing smart contracts used where insurance is linked to specific events, such as in the agricultural sector, where insurance is triggered by weather events,” Avryl says.

SMART CONTRACTS FOR HOME AND CONTENTS?

She adds that there is a clear correlation between the development of internet-connected devices in the home and the type of home and contents products that can be offered in the market.

“In this instance, an insurance policy would exist through the programming code included in the blockchain. Essentially, the blockchain is just the rail on which your insurance policy runs. You have an insuring agreement as part of that code, you have a trigger event and you have a predetermined outcome once that event is triggered.”

While smart blockchain and smart contracts offer mind-boggling opportunity, Avryl also has a warning.

“As soon as you’re using smart contracts for individuals, all the privacy regulations come into play and this is a particular concern at the moment with the EU rolling out new regulations,” she says.

“Virtually all insurance regulations are premised on the paper-based world, so that really does throw up a lot of challenges. And there is still the risk of disputes in this process – it is designed to be straightforward, but disputes will arise between insureds, insurers, cedents and reinsurers.

“And given the decentralised nature of the information being held, the question of who holds the information will arise, along with where do you get the evidence from, what are your discovery obligations and what jurisdictions govern the contracts.

“So those are obviously a variety of issues to consider.”

In answer, blockchain entrepreneur Tim Lea offers that the “single source of immutable truth” offered by blockchain transactions will make loyalty the new currency, giving new business partners strong reasons to join, which will create a healthy profit centre in its own right.

If things go wrong, he says there will be laws, such as consumer codes, that supersede smart contracts.

Should the blockchain code be incorrect or bugged, there will be third party, trusted sites known as ‘Oracles’, driven by corporates that can deliver confirmation of data.

Examples of applications for ‘Oracles’ will include futures contracts linked to external data such as the NYSE, and weather data for insurance contracts that might require third party confirmation.

Whether blockchain is able to eliminate the need for trust between parties is yet to be determined. However, one thing seems certain, as the Harvard Business Review notes in 2017, “Blockchain will do for financial services what the internet did to media”.


HOW TO PARTNER WITH AN INSURTECH START-UP

RESPOND: businesses don’t do business with each other, people do. There are many potential insurtech partners looking to connect, so offer a door for insurtech partners to knock on. It’s important to have someone who can be available to speak to.

DIVERSIFY: remember, 50 to 60 per cent of new product developments fail. Work towards a portfolio of investments, but start small and focus with the end in mind.

EXPLORE: incumbent players need to define how to innovate beyond their core offering.

EXPERIMENT: get involved – an ecosystem thrives when people participate and support each other.

BE READY: get buy-in, especially from legal and procurement. Get out of the building and meet people. Be the internal champion or appoint one. You need to be in the game right now.

PLAY IN THE RIGHT SANDPIT: in other words, look for an opportunity that aligns with your business needs or pain points.

LEVERAGE CORE ASSETS: including your brands, customers, markets, data and people, or leverage and partner with insurtechs that have a product you require already.

MOVE FAST: insurtechs need to overcome both their internal challenges in growing as well as the challenges of working with slower-moving incumbents. They are bootstrapping with short runways and longer sales cycles.

PEOPLE FIRST: you have to connect the right people now. Who are your stars? If you don’t have any yet, go and find them. You need real people with real skills and capability.

REMEMBER, THIS IS AN AMAZING OPPORTUNITY TO CONNECT AND ENGAGE.


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