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Digital Alchemy. Human Experiences.

It’s been a fascinating year of being a mentor at Startupbootcamp InsurTech in London as I’ve been around to see 2 cohorts go onto graduate at their demo days. It’s been wonderful to see companies that are devoted to offer more personalised, transparent, dynamic and cost effective products for broad and niche industries in tech. 

Every single one of these companies, even the ones that are just there to be acqui-hired have an enormous focus on customers, new business models and that heady mix of analytics and new.

What comes next are some of the common threads I’ve noticed during my tenure at SBC London:

First up, the negative stuff: Acqui-hires. These are usually a founding team from experienced backgrounds in traditional corporate firms that have seen a chink in their former company’s armour; they then try to make a piece of tech which they know is going to be acquired back into their former employers at a considerable cost. What sucks for the industry here is that these guys are making a specific piece of tech that addresses a specific shortfall in a specific company and are looking for a big payday because the specific insurer hasn’t fostered a culture of innovation within their company. Typically the customer doesn’t see the immediate value in this and I’m concerned about big corporates who cannot incentivise their best staff to create this inside the organisation.

A move away from compensating users for loss and more towards the prevention of loss: Prevention is better than cure – so let’s do everything we can to prevent the accident from happening. What telematics was for cars, heart rate watches are for humans: iWatch Series 4 with increased heart rate capability is a guiding star towards more prevention. Insurers handing out watches as part of life insurance packages can also help with underwriting and premium pricing on an individual scale. When the most effective marketing company on the planet goes into good health and loss prevention, you know it’s a big industry.

On-demand economy brings about micro-term item insurance: Companies like Dinghy and Zego are providing “insurance as a service” by taking note of certain criteria used for underwriting and then showcasing transparency and flexibility which is becoming increasingly important for an emerging generation of people who don’t like owning things and would rather rent them or own them periodically. This is also being called “just-in-time cover” as people rent out professional equipment that they would use in performing their jobs. Dinghy is doing a few pieces of content around how to effectively be a freelancer and the idea is that the more freelancers they enable, the more their policies will be used.

PSD2 allowing for ecosystems and platforms: ZhongAn, which is a digital insurer based out of China, has created an insurance ecosystem by partnering with some of China’s largest retail groups and allowing users to buy insurance for their products at the retail point of sale.  Click2Sure is a fullstack digital insurance platform which enables retailers, service providers, distributors and brokers to bolt on a selection of over 20 custom developed insurance products, at the point of sale.

Automated Claims Processing: Notifying your insurer of your loss on digital first. Digital First Notification of Loss. We are often asked to describe our car accidents by drawing a picture of how the accident happened; a customer of Discovery Insurance went a step further and created a video of the accident using a toy Delorean. Whilst the video went viral and the commentary was mostly jokes about time travel, Discovery actually allowed the video to be used as part of the claims process. That’s potentially really great content that they could use to let people know about a new digital claims process.

Artificial Intelligence in the Underwriting Process: Using computer imagery and data analysis in the underwriting process. Pixoneye, for example, uses computer-vision technology to analyze a user’s public online photo galleries to create a personal risk profile. By looking at what activities you’re up to including skydiving, drinking and smoking cigarettes, it can come up with a way to calculate your life insurance risk and your premium. Aerobotics flies drones over crops in America and the output of their photos alongside their analytics platform allows farmers to diagnose crop diseases earlier as well as allow insurers to cover them more effectively. Soon artificial intelligence and machine learning is going to allow us to better predict natural catastrophes and insure for those too. When you’re thinking of the marketing aspect around this – it’s all about more effective cover and individualised premiums.

A really great publication is EY’s “Claims in a Digital Era.” I highly recommend you download it and peruse, there’s some very helpful information for the future.


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