Insurtech, a hotbed of deal and growth activity over the last two years, is gaining traction and credibility. The leaders of top insurtech startups in the U.S. — focused on renters insurance, auto insurance, life insurance, small business insurance, mortgage lender insurance and on-demand insurance — share their thoughts about 2017 and predictions for 2018.
Participants (alphabetical order by company)
- Fabric, cofounder and CEO Adam Erlebacher
- Jetty, cofounder and CEO Mike Rudoy, cofounder and President Luke Cohler
- Metromile, CEO Dan Preston
- Next Insurance, CEO Guy Goldstein
- Slice, CEO Tim Attia
- Spruce, cofounder and CEO Patrick Burns
Q. What will be different about insurtech in 2018, compared with 2017?
Theme 2017: opportunity
“The unveiling year,” Slice CEO Tim Attia
“A grace period,” Next CEO Guy Goldstein
“An explosion of investment into insurtech across existing and new insurance lines,” Metromile CEO Dan Preston
“Lessons learned from being live in market,” Jetty cofounder and President Luke Cohler.
Theme 2018: maturation
Fabric cofounder and CEO Adam Erlebacher, “Where startups begin to gain traction and work toward meaningful scale”
Jetty cofounder and CEO Mike Rudoy, “A year of maturation where consumers’ trust in insurtechs deepens, cementing marketplace standing”
Next CEO Guy Goldstein, “Mistakes will have far bigger implications”
Slice CEO Tim Attia, “2018 will be all about proving that we can scale and build real businesses”
Metromile CEO Dan Preston, “Emerging winners will likely announce second or third rounds of capital”
Q. What was your company’s greatest 2017 achievement, and what is your greatest 2018 goal?
Fabric cofounder and CEO Adam Erlebacher, “Fabric launched in 43 states in one year”
Jetty cofounder and President Luke Cohler, “In 2017, our greatest achievement was validating our thesis and finding product market fit with renters and property managers. Our largest goal for 2018 is simple: expansion”
Metromile CEO Dan Preston, “Metromile’s biggest achievement in 2017 was the launch of AVA, our entirely automated claims process that uses AI to validate and automate claims. In 2018, we are excited to expand AVA to nearly all claims we handle”
Next CEO Guy Goldstein, “In 2017, we established our company foundation and core pillars, sold 10,000-plus policies and cracked the code on SMB insurance. Our goal for 2018 is to expand reach and accelerate our growth”
Slice CEO Tim Attia, “Our 2017 achievements included a Series A funding and Progressive partnership, but the largest was our homeshare product launch in nearly all 50 states. In 2018, we’ll expand our existing product, launch other on-demand products, go global and release our cloud-based offering”
Spruce cofounder and CEO Patrick Burns, “In one year, we went from serving homeowners and mortgage lenders in one state to 48 states. Our biggest goal for 2018 is to serve more customers, leveraging scale to drive down costs”
See also: Insurtech in 2018: Beyond Blockchain
Q. What was your company’s greatest challenge in 2017; what do you anticipate as its greatest challenge in 2018?
Theme: 2017 challenges, validation
Slice CEO Tim Attia, “When re-imagining insurance, you truly have to re-imagine it. You have to forget everything you know and are used to and recreate the experience”
Jetty cofounder and CEO Mike Rudoy, “In 2017, we had to validate and fine tune our model and customer experience”
Metromile CEO Dan Preston, “Our big shift from MGA (agency) to full insurance company. It required the entire company (and more) to get it done.”
Theme: 2018 challenges, scale
Jetty cofounder and President Luke Cohler, “The challenges we face in 2018 will be associated with scale. New volumes of customers will require improving technical infrastructure, customer support functions and product experience”
Metromile CEO Dan Preston, “The biggest challenge will be managing growth while launching in new markets (as every market is very different!)”
Next CEO Guy Goldstein, “In 2018, our major challenge will be growing our offering from 20 classes of business to hundreds, while still maintaining excellent customer service”
Slice CEO Tim Attia, “2018 will be about scaling the company and executing, in ways that fit with what customers want”
Spruce cofounder & CEO Patrick Burns, “In 2018, we anticipate our biggest challenge will be hiring the highest-quality engineers and sales people as we continue to scale”
Q. What was a surprise to you in 2017?
Theme: Positive surprise at the intensity of consumer and partner buy-in to new insurtech options
Jetty cofounder and CEO Mike Rudoy, “We were genuinely surprised at the rapidity and size of buy-in from all types of consumers eager for better solutions and experiences that fit their lifestyle. This isn’t unique to Jetty but across the insurtech landscape”
Metromile CEO Dan Preston, “A big surprise came from the 2017 InsureTech Connect conference in Las Vegas, which had more than 4,000 people, orders of magnitude bigger than the entire world of people who knew what ‘insurtech’ was when we started Metromile in 2011”
Next CEO Guy Goldstein, “We were very surprised to learn that companies were underwriting business insurance policies manually, based on individual underwriter experience. SMB insurance is a $100 billion industry, and not using data to evaluate risk was bewildering”
Slice CEO Tim Attia, “We were surprised that our customers enjoy interacting with us regularly and being able to tie coverage directly to a successful and safe stay”
Spruce cofounder and CEO Patrick Burns, “We’ve been pleasantly surprised with the receptiveness of mortgage lenders to working with a new company”
Q. How will incumbents interact with insurtech companies in 2018?
Theme: shift to action
Metromile CEO Dan Preston, “I would expect the number of partnerships to grow significantly”
Slice CEO Tim Attia, “I think incumbents have no choice but to embrace insurtech companies”
Jetty CEO Mike Rudoy, “As insurtech players continue to capture market share, incumbents will be forced to identify response strategies”
Next CEO Guy Goldstein, “The incumbents understand that change is coming and is required”
Spruce cofounder and CEO Patrick Burns, “The industry is in the beginning stages of a multi-year shakeup as end-to-end digital sales and servicing become the norm”
Theme: expectation of beneficial partnering
Metromile CEO Dan Preston, “Competition fostering strong collaboration. Especially when expertise and assets are concentrated in different ways: incumbents with scale and capital, startups with new products, technical expertise and lack of legacy systems/thinking”
Fabric cofounder and CEO Adam Erlebacher, “Many [incumbents] are engaging directly with startups. On a basic level, most carriers lack the digital infrastructure needed to execute a direct digital strategy”
Next CEO Guy Goldstein, “Generally, [incumbents] seem very open and keen to work with new insurtech companies. Acquisition strategies are probably their best bet to integrate new technology”
Slice CEO Tim Attia, “Insurtechs are faster and more nimble than the incumbents; [who] should be excited to engage and leverage new offerings”
Q. What do you admire about other insurtechs?
Jetty cofounder and CEO Mike Rudoy, “Munich Re is hardly a startup, but their willingness to partner and help quickly grow great insurtech companies is impressive”
Slice CEO Tim Attia, “I admire how well insurtech companies complement one another. We have a similar goal: to enrich the customer experience and engagement”
See also: 2018: A Look Back, Then Forward!
Q. What’s the one book you read in 2017 that you can’t stop thinking about or recommending?
Jetty cofounder and President, Luke Cohler: “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” by Cal Newport. “A great guide that explains how we can regain our ability to focus without distraction on cognitively demanding tasks, despite the common distractions of our work environment”
Metromile CEO Dan Preston: “The Wright Brothers” by David McCullough
Next CEO Guy Goldstein: “Red Notice” by Bill Browder. “About a builder of an investment business in Russia. It left me feeling impressed and inspired by his drive to push through and find solutions to any challenges facing him”
Slice CEO Tim Attia: “Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics” by Richard H. Thaler, who cowrote “Nudge” and won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2017
Spruce cofounder and CEO Patrick Burns: “The True Believer” by Eric Hoffer. “It was written in the 1950s, but it’s immensely relevant today. Every startup CEO (and every politician) should read it”