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January 5, 2021

Has Pandemic Shifted Arc of Insurtech?

Summary:

Have events of 2020 permanently altered the trajectory of the insurtech movement and thrown predictions out the window?

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Right before the pandemic hit, I published a blog that reflected on the first decade of the insurtech movement and made predictions for the decade. Little did I know that the world was about to plunge into chaos and fundamental change. My predictions on insurtech through 2030 were based on my involvement in the movement over the last decade as a mentor, adviser, researcher and consultant to startups, insurers and venture capital firms. Of course, predictions are predictions, and those that are a decade out should always be taken with a grain of salt. But now the big question is whether the events of 2020 have permanently altered the trajectory of the insurtech movement and subsequently thrown all my predictions out the window.

Despite all the turmoil of 2020 and the dramatic changes to society and business, I have decided to stand by my earlier predictions. There have certainly been big implications for insurtech during the year – our research report from October contains our observations (The Top 10 Themes for InsurTech 2020: Operating in the Pandemic Era).

Here are the six pre-pandemic insurtech predictions and my commentary on how 2020 has supported (or altered) those predictions:

1. By 2030, we will see multiple insurtechs with over $1 billion per year in revenue.

The insurtechs that were on a strong growth path at the beginning of 2020 continued to grow throughout the year. Companies like Root, Hippo, Lemonade and others already have multibillion-dollar valuations and are on a growth path to be $1billion-plus in revenue before 2030.

Prediction Assessment: On target

2. The term “insurtech” will fade by mid-decade, but the impact of the movement will be lasting.

Despite some assessments early on in the pandemic that insurtechs would fade more rapidly, the movement picked up steam again in the second half of 2020. There is as much or more activity than ever in terms of funding, partnerships, pilots and even the launching of startups during the pandemic. The term “insurtech” is not even close to fading out of the lexicon.

Prediction Assessment: On target, but the term may be around a bit longer

3. The next three to five years will see a flurry of M&A activity in the space.

M&A, between insurtechs and of insurtechs by incumbents, increased in the second half of 2020. Marquee acquisitions included the Bold Penguin acquisition of RiskGenius and the Brown & Brown acquisition of CoverHound. The market conditions are currently favorable for M&A activity, and this is likely to continue into 2021.

Prediction Assessment: On target

4. Insurtech funding over the next five years will be greater than the prior 10 years combined.

The final numbers are not in for 2020, but a series of blockbuster deals in the second half of the year, along with the Root and Lemonade IPOs, demonstrate a continuing strong appetite by investors for insurtech startups. With many insurtechs maturing and growing, it still seems likely that there will be very significant funding over the next five years and even more deals in the multiple hundreds of millions of dollars.

Prediction Assessment: On target

See also: Tapping Cloud’s Ability to Drive Innovation

5. Insurtech distributors will gain significant market share in personal lines, but agents/brokers will still dominate in commercial lines overall.

The lockdowns and work from home environment of 2020 have accelerated e-commerce and the digital transformation of the world. More people are now comfortable with doing business online and have higher expectations about interacting with companies digitally. This will drive more of the personal lines customers to direct digital distribution options. For more complex risks on both the personal and commercial lines sides, there will be an increase in digital enablement, but agents and brokers are still in a strong position to play a major role.

Prediction Assessment: On target, may accelerate on the personal lines side

6. Insurtechs will play a major role in reshaping ecosystems for connected vehicles and smart homes, but the revolutionary changes in these areas will occur in the 2030s.

The interest in telematics is increasing significantly due to the pandemic’s alteration of driving patterns. Likewise, the increase in individuals staying home for work and school has caused new activity in the smart home space. Thus, 2020 may serve to accelerate the impact of these new ecosystems earlier than the initial prediction, although big impacts may still lie five years out or more.

Prediction Assessment: Maybe too pessimistic – COVID is accelerating smart home and connected vehicle activity

I would be very hesitant to make any detailed predictions about 2021 given the high degree of uncertainty still surrounding the pandemic and economic implications. But over the longer term, the big themes that have been present in insurtech and these six predictions from just before the pandemic seem to be on course.

To read the original blog “InsurTech: A Decade Gone, A Decade Ahead,” from February 2020, click here.

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About the Author

Mark Breading is a partner at Strategy Meets Action, which helps insurers develop and validate their IT strategies and plans, better understand how their investments measure up in today’s highly competitive environment and gain clarity on solution options and vendor selection.

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