19 Innovators to Follow in 2019

Innovators are exploring the frontier of insurance through smart investments, creative problem solving and new products and services.

From mobile apps to machine learning, innovation in the insurance industry is moving faster than ever. Industry innovators are exploring the new frontier of insurance through smart investments, creative problem solving and new product and service development. To stay on top of the latest wisdom in the P&C insurance industry, put these 19 insurance innovators on your follow list in 2019. Marissa Buckley, Marketing and Brand Experience Vice President, Security First Featured on Digital Insurance’s 2018 Women in Insurance Leadership list, Marissa Buckley focuses on mobile innovation at Security First Insurance. One of her projects, a mobile app service that allowed customers to file notices of loss quickly, was used by 40% of Security First’s customers after Hurricane Irma. Buckley has also led the effort behind Security First’s JobSight network, which allows contractors to manage their work more efficiently. Buckley’s insight into digital and mobile technology as a tool to improve human lives, particularly in the face of oncoming catastrophe, makes her a must-follow insurance innovator in 2019. Chris Cheatham, CEO, RiskGenius As the CEO of RiskGenius, Chris Cheatham helps revolutionize risk management and underwriting. His company uses insurance algorithms that enhance the work P&C underwriters already do, making insurance work better for everyone involved. If you’re curious about how machine learning can be applied to insurance policies, Cheatham’s Twitter feed engages in many interesting conversations regarding this topic. Tom Elder, Senior Vice President, Breckenridge Insurance Services Though Tom Elder’s work focuses on risk management, he places a special emphasis on the rapid changes and future of P&C risk management. If you’re interested in understanding risk and innovation in commercial property and casualty insurance, real estate and flood insurance, following Elder in the coming year can offer an informed perspective on what’s coming next. Chris Gledhill, CEO and Co-Founder, Secco Aura If you need a fintech leader to follow in 2019, you can’t go wrong with Chris Gledhill, the CEO and co-founder of Secco Aura. Gledhill has given presentations on fintech, insurtech and business growth all over the world. If you can’t check out one of Gledhill’s presentations in person, his Medium account delves into many insights on fintech, banking and personal character. And, you can get a glimpse into what captures Gledhill’s attention by following his busy Twitter feed. You might also pick up one of his two books, titled “Consumerization: The Enterprise Guide to BYOD” and “The Fintech Group.” See also: Insurtech Innovator Videos 2018 Danielle Guzman, Social Media and Distributed Content Global Head, Mercer Danielle Guzman has served a number of professional marketing roles in the past, yet she credits her innovation not to these titles but to her personal qualities. “I’m a learner, a listener, a communicator, a social media enthusiast, and, above all, I am relentless,” she says. With a passion for innovation and success, combined with a focus on engaging people to build real value, Guzman earns her place on the list of insurance innovators to watch in 2019. Ryan Hanley, CMO, Bold Penguin Ryan Hanley is the chief marketing officer at Bold Penguin, a Columbus, Ohio-based insurtech company that focuses on applying technology to make the insurance buying process easier. Hanley helps P&C insurers put the human element back into insurance transactions, improving user experience for both customers and insurers. Hanley also travels the world as an international keynote speaker, providing insight on leadership and peak performance, customer experience, content strategy and marketing. Catch him at a conference or follow him on social media to share his insights. Seraina Macia, CEO, Blackboard Insurance Seraina Macia's professional experience reads like a who’s who of insurance companies, including XL Group, AIG and Hamilton Insurance Group. Since 2017, she’s been CEO of Blackboard Insurance, an AIG subsidiary that focuses on reimagining commercial insurance. For insurance companies interested in improving efficiency, reducing errors, breaking down silos and adopting new technologies, Macia’s insight will be essential in the coming year. Beth Maerz, Vice President of Customer Experience and Innovation, Travelers While many insurance companies are interested in using digital and mobile technologies to attract and retain customers, few have applied the technology practically like Beth Maerz. Maerz led the launch of Traverse, a renter’s insurance product that works entirely via mobile. Traverse seeks to meet today’s renters where they are and to make it easier for them to purchase coverage, prevent damage and file claims. The enormously popular app makes Maerz, the leader behind it, a top innovator to follow for anyone who wants to see technology applied to concrete, real-world improvements in insurance. Spiros Margaris, Margaris Ventures Spiros Margaris is one of the top minds considering innovations in fintech and insurtech today. In May 2018, Onalytica ranked Margaris in the top 10 fintech influencers within the insurtech community, along with naming him the No. 1 fintech, AI and blockchain global influencer. For insurers intrigued by artificial intelligence or blockchain and their ability to revolutionize the insurance industry, Margaris is a must-follow for 2019. In addition to maintaining an engaging Twitter feed, Margaris also gives talks around the world on fintech and insurtech topics. George Mathew, CEO and Chairman, Kespry Drones have become a big topic of conversation in P&C insurance due to their flexibility as a tool to improve claims adjustment and underwriting. Although Kespry has excelled in its approach to drones as a service, however, the company’s CEO George Mathew takes a view of innovation that encompasses the insurance industry as a whole. While promising big innovations from Kespry, Mathew also focuses on executive leadership, product management, development and market strategy experience across business intelligence, analytics and SaaS, according to his LinkedIn profile. He brings 20 years of experience to the table, making his insights key for insurers seeking to better understand innovation in 2019. Martha Notaras, Partner, XL Innovate Behind some of the biggest names in insurtech innovation today stand the venture capitalists who saw genius and supported it. Martha Notaras is one of those supporters. She focuses on investing in innovation within insurance, insurtech, data analytics and the Internet of Things, putting her work and insights at the heart of insurance innovation in 2019 and beyond. While not everyone recognizes Notaras’ name on sight, many in the insurance and insurtech world recognize projects Notaras has invested in and supported. Her list of successes includes Lemonade, Slice Labs, Notion and Cape Analytics. Her focus on opportunities in insurtech make her insights valuable for P&C insurers who wish to better understand disruption in the industry. Karl Ricanek, Co-Founder and Chief AI Scientist, Lapetus Solutions Karl Ricanek focuses on AI research and its application to a number of industries, including insurance. He also works as a computer science professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where he has served as the director of the I3S Institute and Face Aging Group since 2010. Ricanek’s work has helped to build the Chronos platform, which uses facial analytics to help life insurers determine BMI, gender and physiological age. With potential for use in the P&C industry, as well, tools like Chronos — and their creators — are worth following. Piyush Singh, CEO and Co-Founder, Terrene Labs Piyush Singh teamed up with three other insurance leaders to start Terrene Labs, which focuses on helping insurers underwrite policies by integrating with third-party data providers. What makes Terrene Labs different is its ability to facilitate underwriting with a very small number of data points, improving both underwriting efficiency and the overall customer experience. Singh also presents at conferences like Dig In, giving insurance professionals the opportunity to hear from him in person. You can also follow his Twitter feed or the Terrene Labs’ blog for insight throughout the year. Kate Stillwell, CEO and Founder, Jumpstart Insurance Kate Stillwell works to build human resilience to natural disasters. To do that, Stillwell applied her 20 years of experience as a structural engineer to P&C insurance, leveraging existing technologies to create an entirely new approach to insurance via Jumpstart. Jumpstart connects mobile devices, insurers and geologic data to automatically sense when a seismic event occurs and to trigger payments to customers immediately based on the severity of the event. Jumpstart began selling policies in 2018, making it one of the new kids on the block — and Stillwell a figure to watch in insurance innovation. Kathleen Tierney, President, Berkley One Kathleen Tierney earned a place on Digital Insurance’s Women in Insurance Leadership list in 2013, and she’s remained a notable innovator. Since March 2016, she’s served as the head of Berkley One, a new personal insurance provider within Berkley. Berkley One focuses on providing high-net-worth customers with insurance that combines the best digital tools with high-touch, agent-based services. This company aims to supply the insurance industry with the human connection that’s needed for good communication and a quality experience. This approach, which focuses on the role insurance plays in customers’ lives, put Tierney on the list of innovators worth following in 2019. See also: 10 Trends at Heart of Insurtech Revolution   Alex Timm, CEO and Founder, Root Insurance Alex Timm has been engaged in insurance since age 14, when he landed his first job assisting customers of his father’s insurance agency. A love of insurance and a passion for analytics led Timm to create Root, which seeks to change how auto insurance attracts and keeps customers by using customers’ actual driving habits to generate quotes. While Root looks simple, the concept behind it stands to change much about insurance in the future, making Timm a mind to watch in 2019. Abel Travis, Underwriting and Innovation Leader, AF Group Anyone whose official title is director of innovation could earn a place on a list of innovators to watch, but what makes Abel Travis a must-follow is his commitment to sharing what he learns in the insurance industry. His passion for learning and teaching landed him on a 40 Under 40 list of leaders to watch in Worcester, MA, home of Hanover. Catch Travis’s latest thoughts by tuning in to the “Insurance Innovators Unscripted” podcast, where Travis shares his own insights and talks to other leaders in the industry. Sabine VanderLinden, CEO, Startupbootcamp InsurTech Sabine VanderLinden heads Startupbootcamp InsurTech, which focuses on launching insurance-specific businesses and ideas. VanderLinden started the project in the U.K., and, when 80% of its participants received funding, she partnered with the Hartford to bring it to the U.S. In addition to helping insurtech innovators realize their dreams, VanderLinden has also co-edited the “InsurTECH Book,” released by Wiley in 2018. Insurers who want a connection to the newest ideas in insurance innovation can learn from following VanderLinden’s work in the coming year. Nigel Walsh, Partner, Deloitte How many insurance industry professionals put #Insurancefan in their Twitter bios? For Nigel Walsh, that label is placed proudly front and center, along with #InsurTech super fan. Walsh has easily earned both descriptors, spending significant time engaged in the insurtech conversation with a focus on digital and technological transformation. Walsh also co-hosts the “InsurTech Insider” podcast with David Brear of 11:FS. The podcast offers an easy-to-access source of insights while you’re commuting or unwinding after a day of hard work.

Tom Hammond

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Tom Hammond

Tom Hammond is the chief strategy officer at Confie. He was previously the president of U.S. operations at Bolt Solutions. 


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