Tag Archives: 2017

Insurtech: The Year in Review

As we reach the end of 2017, the first full 12 months where insurtech has been recognized as a standalone investment segment, we wanted to reflect on what has been an incredible year.

From the start, we at Eos believed that insurtech would be driven globally, and that has certainly played out. This year, we’ve visited: Hong Kong, Amsterdam, New York, Las Vegas, Nigeria, Dubai, India, Singapore, Bermuda, Milan, St. Louis, Munich, Vienna, Paris, Zurich, Cologne, Chicago, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Seattle and Toronto. We’ve expanded our geographic footprint to include the East and West coasts of the U.S. and India and have seen fantastic progress across our expanding portfolio. We’ve welcomed a number of new strategic partners, including Clickfox, ConVista and Dillon Kane Group, and launched our innovation center, EoSphere, with a focus on developing markets

At the start of the year, we published a series of articles looking at the key trends that we believed would influence insurtech and have incorporated these in our review of the year.

We hope you enjoy it! Comments, challenges and other perspectives, as always, would be greatly received.

2017: The year innovation became integral to the insurance sector

How are incumbents responding?

We are seeing a mixed response, but the direction of travel is hugely positive. A small number of top-tier players are embracing the opportunity and investing hundreds of millions, and many smaller incumbents with more modest budgets are opening up to innovation and driving an active agenda. The number sitting on the side lines, with a “wait and see” strategy is diminishing.

“If 2016 was the year when ‘some’ insurers started innovating, 2017 will be remembered as the year when ‘all’ insurers jumped on the bandwagon. And not a minute too soon! When I joined 3,800 insurance innovators in Las Vegas, we all realized that the industry is now moving forward at light speed, and the few remaining insurers who stay in the offline world risk falling behind.” Erik Abrahamson, CEO of Digital Fineprint

We are more convinced than ever that the insurance industry is at the start of an unprecedented period of change driven by technology that will result in a $1 trillion shift in value between those that embrace innovation and those that don’t.

Has anyone cracked the code yet? We don’t think so, but there are a small number of very impressive programs that will deliver huge benefits over the next two to three years to their organizations.

“We were pleased to see some of the hype surrounding insurtech die down in 2017. We’re now seeing a more considered reaction from (re)insurers. For example, there is less talk about the ‘Uber moment’ and more analysis of how technology can support execution of the corporate strategy. We have long argued that this is the right approach.” Chris Sandilands, partner at Oxbow Partners

Have insurers worked out how to work with startups? We think more work may be needed in this area….

See also: Insurtech: An Adventure or a Quest?  

The role of the tech giants

“Investors are scrambling for a piece of China’s largest online-only insurer… the hype could be explained by the ‘stars’ behind ZhongAn and its offering. Its major shareholders — Ping An Insurance (Group) Co., Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Tencent Holdings Ltd.” – ChinaGoAbroad.com

“Tencent Establishes Insurance Platform WeSure Through WeChat and QQ” – YiCai Global

“Amazon is coming for the insurance industry — should we be worried?” – Insurance Business Magazine

“Aviva turns digital in Hong Kong with Tencent deal” – Financial Times

“Quarter of customers willing to trust Facebook for insurance” – Insurance Business Magazine

“Chinese Tech Giant Baidu Is Launching a $1 Billion Fund with China Life” – Fortune 

We are already well past the point of wondering whether tech giants like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple (GAFA) and Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent (BAT) are going to enter insurance. They are already here.

Notice the amount of activity being driven by the Chinese tech giants. Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent are transforming the market, and don’t expect them to stop at China.

The tech giants bring money, customer relationships, huge amounts of data and ability to interact with people at moments of truth and have distribution power that incumbents can only dream about. Is insurance a distraction to their core businesses? Perhaps — but they realize the potential in the assets that they have built. Regulatory complexity may drive a partnership approach, but we expect to see increasing levels of involvement from these players.

Role of developing markets

It’s been exciting to play an active role in the development of insurtech in developing markets. These markets are going to play a pivotal role in driving innovation in insurance and in many instances, will move ahead of more mature markets as a less constraining legacy environment allows companies to leapfrog to the most innovation solutions.

Importantly, new technologies will encourage financial inclusion and reduce under-insurance by lowering the cost of insurance, allowing more affordable coverage, extending distribution to reach those most at need (particularly through mobiles, where penetration rates are high) and launching tailored product solutions.

Interesting examples include unemployment insurance in Nigeria, policies for migrant workers in the Middle East, micro credit and health insurance in Kenya, a blockchain platform for markets in Asia and a mobile health platform in India.

Protection to prevention

At the heart of much of the technology-driven change and potential is the shift of insurance from a purely protection-based product to one that can help predict, mitigate or prevent negative events. This is possible with the ever-increasing amount of internal and external data being created and captured, but, more crucially, sophisticated artificial intelligence and machine learning tools that drive actionable insights from the data. In fact, insurers already own a vast amount of historical unstructured data, and we are seeing more companies unlocking value from this data through collaboration and partnerships with technology companies. Insurers are now starting to see data as a valuable asset.

The ability to understand specific risk characteristics in real time and monitor how they change over time rather than rely on historic and proxy information is now a reality in many areas, and this allows a proactive rather than reactive approach.

During 2017, we’ve been involved in this area in two very different product lines, life and health and marine insurance.

The convergence of life and health insurance and application of artificial intelligence combined with health tech and genomics is creating an opportunity to transform the life and health insurance market. We hope to see survival rates improving, tailored insurance solutions, an inclusion-based approach and reduced costs for insurers.

Marine insurance is also experiencing a shift due to technology

In the marine space, the ability to use available information from a multitude of sources to enhance underwriting, risk selection and pricing and drive active claims management practices is reshaping one of the oldest insurance lines. Concirrus, a U.K.-based startup, launched a marine analytics solution platform to spearhead this opportunity.

The emergence of the full stack digital insurer

Perhaps reflecting the challenges of working with incumbents, several companies have decided to launch a full-stack digital insurer.

We believe that this model can be successful if executed in the right way but remain convinced that a partnership-driven approach will generate the most impact in the sector in the short to medium term.

“A surprise for us has been the emergence of full-stack digital insurers. When Lemonade launched in 2016, the big story was that it had its own balance sheet. In 2017, we’ve seen a number of other digital insurers launch — Coya, One, Element, Ottonova in Germany, Alan in France, for example. Given the structure of U.K. distribution, we’re both surprised and not surprised that no full-stack digital insurers have launched in the U.K. (Gryphon appears to have branded itself a startup insurer, but we’ve not had confirmation of its business model).” – Chris Sandilands, partner, Oxbow Partners

Long term, what will a “full stack” insurer look like? We are already seeing players within the value chain striving to stay relevant, and startups challenging existing business models. Will the influence of tech giants and corporates in adjacent sectors change the insurance sector as we know it today?

Role of MGAs and intermediaries

Insurtech is threatening the role of the traditional broker in the value chain. Customers are able to connect directly, and the technology supports the gathering, analysis and exchange of high-quality information. Standard covers are increasingly data-driven, and the large reinsurers are taking advantage by going direct.

We expected to see disintermediation for simple covers, and this has started to happen. In addition, blockchain initiatives have been announced by companies like Maersk, Prudential and Allianz that will enable direct interaction between customers and insurers.

However, insurtech is not just bad news for brokers. In fact, we believe significant opportunities are being created by the emergence of technology and the associated volatility in the market place.

New risks, new products and new markets are being created, and the brokers are ideally placed to capitalize given their skills and capabilities. Furthermore, the rising rate environment represents an opportunity for leading brokers to demonstrate the value they can bring for more complex risks.

MGAs have always been a key part of the value chain, and we are now seeing the emergence of digital MGAs.

Digital MGAs are carving out new customer segments, channels and products. Traditional MGAs are digitizing their business models, while several new startups are testing new grounds. Four elements are coming together to create a perfect storm:

  1. Continuing excess underwriting capacity, especially in the P&C markets, is galvanizing reinsurers to test direct models. Direct distribution of personal lines covers in motor and household is already pervasive in many markets. A recent example is Sywfft direct Home MGA with partnerships with six brokers. Direct MGA models for commercial lines risks in aviation, marine, construction and energy are also being tested and taking root.
  2. Insurers and reinsurers are using balance sheet capital to provide back-stop to MGA startups. Startups like Laka are creating new models using excess of loss structures for personal lines products.
  3. Digital platforms are permitting MGAs to go direct to customers.
  4. New sources of data and machine learning are permitting MGAs to test new underwriting and claims capabilities and take on more balance sheet risk. Underwriting, and not distribution, is emerging as the core competency of MGAs.

Customer-driven approach

Three of the trends driving innovation that we highlighted at the start of the year centered on the customer and how technology will allow insurers to connect with customers at the “moment of truth”:

  • Insurance will be bought, sold, underwritten and serviced in fundamentally different ways.
  • External data and contextual information will become increasingly important.
  • Just-in-time, need- and exposure-based protection through mobile will be available.

Over time, we expect the traditional approach to be replaced with a customer-centric view that will drive convergence of traditional product lines and a breakdown of silo organization structures. We’ve been working with Clickfox on bringing journey sciences to insurance, and significant benefits are being realized by those insurers supporting this fundamental change in approach.

Interesting ideas that were launched or gained traction this year include Kasko, which provides insurance at point of sale; Cytora, which enables analysis of internal and external data both structured and unstructured to support underwriting; and Neosurance, providing insurance coverage through push notifications at time of need.

See also: Core Systems and Insurtech (Part 3)  

Partnerships and alliances critical for success

As discussed above, we believe partnerships and alliances will be key to driving success. Relying purely on internal capabilities will not be enough.

“The fascinating element for me to witness is the genuine surprise by insurance companies that tech firms are interested in ‘their’ market. The positive element for me is the evolving discovery of pockets of value that can be addressed and the initial engagement that is received from insurers. It’s still also a surprise that insurers measure progress in years, not quarters, months or weeks.” – Andrew Yeoman, CEO of Concirrus

We highlighted three key drivers at the start of the year:

  • Ability to dynamically innovate will become the most important competitive advantage.
  • Optionality and degrees of freedom will be key.
  • Economies of skill and digital capabilities will matter more than economies of scale.

The move toward partnership built on the use of open platforms and APIs seen in fintech is now prevalent in insurance.

“We are getting, through our partnerships, access to the latest technology, a deeper understanding of the end customers and a closer engagement with them, and this enables us to continue to be able to better design insurance products to meet the evolving needs and expectations of the public.” Munich Re Digital Partners

Where next?

Key trends to look out for in 2018

  • Established tech players in the insurance space becoming more active in acquiring or partnering with emerging solutions to augment their business models
  • Tech giants accelerating pace of innovation, with Chinese taking a particularly active role in AI applications
  • Acceleration of the trend from analogue to digital and digital to AI
  • Shift in focus to results rather than hype and to later-stage business models that can drive real impact
  • Valuation corrections with down rounds, consolidation and failures becoming more common as the sector matures
  • Continued growth of the digital MGA
  • Emergence of developing-market champions
  • Increasing focus on how innovation can be driven across all parts of the value chain and across product lines, including commercial lines
  • Insurers continuing to adapt their business models to improve their ability to partner effectively with startups — winners will start to emerge

“As we enter 2018, I think that we’ll see a compression of the value chain as the capital markets move ever closer to the risk itself and business models that syndicate the risk with the customer — active risk management is the new buzzword.” – Andrew Yeoman, CEO Concirrus

We’re excited to be at the heart of what will be an unprecedented period of change for the insurance industry.

A quick thank you to our partners and all those who have helped and supported us during 2017. We look forward to working and collaborating with you in 2018.

10 Cyber Security Predictions for 2017

Each year, the cyber security industry faces new types of threats as cybercriminals evolve their approach toward accessing organizations’ data. For 2017, the security experts at Symantec have taken a close look at the trends we can expect to see this year and in the years ahead. Given the consistently changing security landscape, it’s important to take a moment and determine where the security industry needs to focus attention.

We’ll continue to see a shift toward the modern workplace as businesses allow employees to introduce new technologies such as wearables, virtual reality and IoT-connected devices onto the network while supporting a rapidly dispersed workforce made possible by cloud applications and solutions. Enterprises will need to shift their focus from safeguarding endpoint devices toward protecting users and information across all applications and services.

Here’s a list of cyber security threats in 2017 as predicted by the Symantec cyber security team.

1. Connected cars will be taken for ransom

As cars start to have connected capabilities, it is only a matter of time until we see an automobile hack on a large scale. This could include cars being held for ransom, self-driving cars being hacked to obtain their location for hijacking, unauthorized surveillance and intelligence gathering, or other automobile-focused threats. This will also lead to a question of liability between the software vendor and automobile manufacturer, which will have long-term implications on the future of connected cars.

See also: Best Practices in Cyber Security  

2. IoT devices will increasingly penetrate the enterprise

Beyond looking simply at computers and mobile devices for vulnerabilities, incident response teams will need to consider thermostats and other connected devices as jumping points into the network. Similar to how printer servers were used for attacks several years ago, nearly everything in an enterprise is now connected to the internet and will need to be protected.

3. Increased IoT DDoS attacks

The Dyn attack in October demonstrated the vast number of IoT devices that don’t have security on them and are tremendously vulnerable to attacks. As more IoT devices are installed in the mass market, the risk of security breach will increase. Once insecure devices are in the market, it becomes almost impossible to fix the issue without recalling them or issuing security updates. Given that this lack of security will continue for the foreseeable future, the number of IoT attacks will only increase as well.

4. Ransomware will attack the cloud

Given the significant shift towards cloud-based storage and services, the cloud is becoming a very lucrative target for attacks. The cloud is not protected by firewalls or more traditional security measures, so there will be a shift in where enterprises need to defend their data. Cloud attacks could result in multi-million dollar damages and loss of critical data, so the need to defend it will become even more crucial.

5. Threats from AI will only continue to grow

In 2017, artificial intelligence or AI will only continue to grow – Forrester predicts investment in Artificial Intelligence will grow 300 percent next year alone. With this growth comes new, powerful insights for businesses to tap, and an increased collaboration between humans and machines. From a security standpoint, this expansion will impact organizations in more ways than one – including endpoints and mechanisms in the cloud.

6. Machine Learning to cause widespread threats

As new forms of machine learning and AI continue to enter the market, enterprises will need to invest in solutions that have the capabilities to collect and analyze data from the countless endpoints and attack sensors across different organizations, industries and geographies. These solutions will prove to be instrumental in teaching machines how to operate on the front lines of a global battle that changes every day, minute by minute.

7. Rogue nation states will finance themselves by stealing money

There is a dangerous possibility that rogue nation states could align with organized crime for their personal gain, such as what we saw in the SWIFT attacks. This could result in down time for countries’ political, military or financial systems.

8. Fileless malware will increase. Fileless infections – those written directly onto a computer’s RAM without using files of any kind – are difficult to detect and often elude intrusion prevention and antivirus programs. This type of attack increased throughout 2016 and will continue to gain prominence in 2017, most likely through PowerShell attacks.

9. SSL abuse will lead to increased phishing sites using HTTPS

The rise in popularity of free Secure Sockets Layer or SSL certifications paired with Google’s recent initiative to label HTTP-only sites as unsafe will weaken security standards, driving potential spear-phishing or malware programs due to malicious search engine optimization practices.

See also: Paradigm Shift on Cyber Security  

10. Drones will be used for espionage and explosive attacks

This could be seen in 2017, but is more likely to occur further down the road. By 2025, we can expect to see “dronejacking,” which will intercept drone signals and redirect drones for the attacker’s benefit. Given this possibility, we can also expect to see anti-drone hacking technology being developed to control these devices’ GPS and other important systems.

You can find the original article here.

EY’s Outlook for L&A, P&C in 2017

The coming year promises to be a year of continued disruption on several fronts for the insurance industry, including consumer demands, digital technology, cybersecurity and the shifting political landscape. The slow growth of the U.S. economy, coupled with market shifts, will also be prominent factors in 2017.

Insurers are looking at machine learning to make underwriting decisions. They are looking at all kinds of data, from medical to behavioral. They know they cannot take months to underwrite a policy. They need to do it in days – and, soon, even quicker.

This is an ideal time to make plans that take into account the future of the nature of work. Insurers now have the opportunity to introduce new technology, such as robotics, and more effective workforce management activities. By taking out repetitive tasks, they can produce an even more industrious and stimulating work environment for people.

See also: One Foot In Healthcare: Property And Casualty Payer Integration  

Below are the top strategic priorities from the 2017 EY U.S. life-annuity and property-casualty insurance outlooks.

Life-annuity strategic priorities

  1. Prepare for regulatory change. From rules on consumer protection and transparency, to financial solvency and cybersecurity – and now a potential shift in overall policy direction – the regulatory landscape for life insurers has never been more complex. Insurers should develop a strategy to comply with the new Department of Labor fiduciary rule, and be prepared to course-correct; as well as confirm that internal systems can keep up with regulatory change overall.
  2. Stay centered on the customer. The customer can be a valuable compass to companies mapping a strategy in changing times. Insurers should use this resource by applying analytics to gain deeper customer insights, creating a strong cross-channel customer experience and rethinking go-to-market approaches to meet changing investor needs.
  3. Re-evaluate strategies for a changing marketplace. With the industry in transition, and a new administration taking office, this is an ideal time for management teams to carefully asses their current market position and plan for where they would like to be, long-term. In addition to reassessing strategic positioning for the years ahead, insurers should also consider using M&A to improve competitive positioning and should also look to find the right insurtech strategy for the firm.
  4. Take digital transformation to the next level. 2017 will be a year of continued experimentation, and the focus of innovation will start to shift from reducing costs to reinventing products and business models. To do this, insurers should be prepared to enter the next phase of digital innovation by getting control of data across the enterprise and by using technology to improve current business approaches.
  5. Make cybersecurity a top strategic priority. Given the vast amount of personal and health data that resides in insurance firms, and their complex vendor relationships, building a robust data security system is both crucial and challenging. To do this, insurers should look to make cybersecurity a continuous business activity by drawing on technology and people to secure data.
  6. Close the talent gap. 2017 is the year to determine the critical workforce skills that insurers will need to drive the business forward. Insurers can build new talent management strategies by assessing whether the firm has the needed talent for the future and by creating clear pathways to transfer knowledge.

See also: 4 Mandates for Agents in Sharing Economy  

Property-casualty strategic priorities

  1. Focus on customer-driven innovation. To adapt to a fast-moving marketplace and differentiate themselves from competitors, insurers must stay laser-focused on the customer and adapt their go-to-market strategies. To do this, they can nurture a culture of innovation, which will help accelerate the development of new products and business models.
  2. Use technology to drive top- and bottom-line performance. In the face of shrinking returns, insurers will need to apply advanced analytics systematically across the value chain, as well as drive costs savings by drawing on robotics to automate insurance processes and build smart technology into future plans to remain competitive.
  3. Put cybersecurity high on the corporate agenda. As with life-annuity insurers, cybersecurity is also a key topic for property-casualty insurers. In 2017, cyber risks will increase exponentially as digital technology becomes more pervasive, and cyber-attackers more sophisticated. Insurers should prepare for the next stage of cyber-risk and implement an active defensive system to protect against attack.
  4. Rethink strategies to attract, develop and retain talent. With a large percentage of the workforce retiring in the years ahead, and digital transformation accelerating, 2017 will be a good time to take a hard look at future work needs. Insurers can start by understanding the millennial mindset and identifying the digital expertise they will need in the future.

Here are the complete reports:

2017 EY U.S. life-annuity insurance outlook

2017 EY U.S. property-casualty insurance outlook