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Global Trend Map No. 7: Internet of Things

In our earlier post on Analytics and AI, we pointed to the growing volume and exploitation of (big) data at every point in the insurance value chain. But where is all of this data coming from? The old data sources and data-gathering methods have not gone away, but they cannot on their own explain the continuing boom in the data-analytics industry. The critical factor is the recent mass proliferation of sensors in the real world, capturing data on millions of connected objects, from toothbrushes to oil tankers. The Internet of Things (IoT) has arrived, and insurers are taking notice.

The possibilities of the IoT for insurance are boundless, from turbocharging underwriting models and using sensor data for preventative messaging to usage-based products and dynamic pricing. In this installment, we explore:

  • where IoT technologies stand to produce the greatest benefit, both across the insurance lifecycle and across different insurance lines
  • new IoT-enabled models like usage-based insurance (UBI) and insurance-as-a-service
  • IoT platform implementation across different insurance lines and regions

Our stats and perspectives derive from the extensive survey we conducted as part of our Global Trend Map; a full breakdown of our respondents, and details of our methodology, are available as part of the full Trend Map, which you can download for free at any time.

“There is a big shift from today’s protection to tomorrow’s prevention. New technologies using sensors and devices are becoming more widespread and can prevent incidents from happening. Broadly speaking from an industry perspective, it has potential for better risk understanding and creates happier customers.” – Dennis Nilsson, assistant vice president, head of advanced analytics, insurance, at TD Insurance

While other technological advances often represent the optimization of an established insurer capability (as with many applications of analytics, for instance), IoT in theory enables insurers to rewrite the rules of the game by moving from risk protection to risk prevention. For many use cases, this remains hypothetical, and many questions around business/monetization models, as well as the precise role of insurers in the nascent IoT ecosystem, remain unanswered. However, IoT is, in one form or another, increasingly part of carriers’ strategic horizons.

Do you have an IoT strategy?

54% of all respondents had an IoT strategy, and we see that this is fairly uniform across the ecosystem, insurers and brokers and agents scoring 49% apiece, and technology partners 65%. This solid showing by technology partners is not surprising – in many cases, insurers’ IoT platforms are being developed by third-party service providers. Given the upward trend in platform implementation, we expect that the proportion of insurers with formal IoT strategies will sharply rise in this timeframe, as well.

Assessing the Impact of IoT: Insurance Lifecycle

IoT is such an open-ended technology that we further asked our respondents to specify those areas of insurance they thought would benefit the most. The areas that come out on top were analytics (81%), customer-centricity (68%), pricing (64%), digital (61%), claims (60%) and underwriting (59%).

The clear lead for analytics is understandable given the symbiosis in which these two technologies stand. No IoT means limited data for analytical models; no analytics substantially weakens the business case for IoT.

“Drones, which are also IoT devices, are being used by property and casualty companies to examine property damage after catastrophes and storms, saving them a lot of time and money, so people don’t have to climb up on the roofs, which is dangerous and time-consuming.” – Stephen Applebaum, managing partner at Insurance Solutions Group

Before checking out the impact of IoT on different insurance lines, let’s now explore some of these key IoT beneficiaries in a bit more depth and observe how they mesh as part of today’s emerging UBI model: analytics, customer-centricity, pricing, digital, claims and underwriting.

See also: Insurance and the Internet of Things  

IoT does not affect all these areas separately; rather, they are all co-beneficiaries of the paradigm that IoT enables, in which the underwriting and claims components of the insurance lifecycle are increasingly fused.

On the one hand, the massive volume of data being generated by connected devices is feeding analytics and algorithmic models, increasing carriers’ understanding of risk and the accuracy of underwriting models. On the other, this data is not a static mountain; it is accessible in real time. This means that underwriting models can be continuously updated by way of dynamic pricing.

This new model, often called UBI, means that policyholders can be judged on their actual behavior – which they can feel motivated to change – instead of being subjected to the tyranny of averages. So instead of charging high premiums for bad risk and then being hit with the claims bill, insurers can offer incentives for less risky behavior on the part of their policyholders through the prospect of lower premium prices (or benefits in kind) and thereby reduce their claims burden. This model is established in the auto line – with help from in-car telematics – as pay-how-you-drive, and we have also seen similar innovations in health, in particular Discovery Health’s Vitality Program.

“Technology used well can change the current customer proposition. The traditional insurance model has the opportunity to move from post-loss reactive reimbursement to proactively managing down customers’ risks. The latter model is significantly more valuable to the customer and can change insurance from the grudge transaction that many view it as today into an ongoing value-enhancing relationship. Incumbents working with insurtech startups can accelerate this evolution” – Nick Martin, fund manager at Polar Capital Global Insurance Fund

IoT does not just enable insurers to tailor policies to actual behavior; it also allows insurance-as-a-service, with flexible policy spans. Rather than taking out an annual policy, which may overshoot the mark, customers can take out insurance in real time on a case-by-case basis, precisely when they need it the most. In the auto world, this has crystallized as pay-as-you-drive, but the applications are potentially much broader, for example insuring your car against theft for the duration of a trip into town or your airport luggage against loss at the point of check-in.

In the longer term, the ability to sustainably offer lower premiums – which relies on reducing claims costs or premium spans – opens up to carriers segments of the customer base that were hitherto under- or un-insured, expanding the scale at which they can operate.

As we have indicated, IoT innovation can be particularly significant for claims departments, and this is not just by reducing payouts but also by allowing insurers to work out exactly what has happened when a claim event does occur (for instance, with car crashes). To further investigate the impact of IoT on claims, we spoke to Minh Q Tran, general partner at AXA Strategic Ventures:

“IoT could have a huge impact on claims by preventing accidents from happening or warning so that the damage doesn’t get worse.

“In the car industry, the development of connected and autonomous cars should prevent accidents and decrease dramatically linked damages, changing at the same time insurance intervention. Car insurance startups are using auto-tracking devices to teach newer drivers how to stay safe (Marmalade Insurance) and help locate cars if they are stolen (Insure The Box).

“Many insurtechs are being created to more accurately analyze drivers’ attitudes and data, so that insurers can adapt their offer to customers and new ways of driving.”

Stay tuned for our dedicated post on claims, in which we explore further the impact of IoT on claims departments. Or, if you’d prefer to read on immediately and access all 11 key themes, simply download the full Trend Map free of charge here.

However, if it is to be successful, insurance IoT requires more than just devices and back-end analytics: Insurers also need to radically reevaluate the relationship with the customer. In the past, policies were renewed infrequently (in many cases as rarely as once a year); the behavioral science inherent in IoT-empowered models requires more frequent interactions and a larger number of (digital) touchpoints.

Insurance needs to change its perception in the eyes of consumers if it is going to gain firstly their trust and secondly their data, by becoming fundamentally more customer-centric and making its value proposition clearer (we go into these themes in more detail in our later installments on marketing and customer-centricity and distribution – read ahead here). We can see then that IoT is not, and cannot be, a siloed technology for the new-age insurer; it directly affects, and is affected by, all work being done in analytics, customer-centricity, pricing, digital, underwriting and claims.

Assessing the Impact of IoT: Insurance Lines

We didn’t just ask respondents to indicate which aspects of insurance they saw benefiting the most but also which insurance lines. Auto, home and health came out on top, while P&C/general, commercial and life were relatively behind.

“Technology is having an impact. In the P&C space, we are seeing a real focus on IoT and how devices can give better information and be part of an insurance program. Wearables are going to make even more inroads into health and wellness products.” – Cindy Forbes, EVP and chief analytics officer, Manulife Financial

The new UBI model enabled by IoT has clear implications for our three leading lines (and for personal lines, in general). In health, we can point to connected wearables to monitor an individual’s health and to price accordingly; in auto, to in-car telematics that monitor driving behavior; and in home, to smart security devices. We see a whole host of commercialized solutions in these areas already.

We asked Sam Evans, managing director at Eos Venture Partners, for some more detail on the impact of IoT in home insurance:

“There are a multitude of applications ranging across motor, home and health. One key application where we have seen significant progress in insurance is combining smart home technology with a traditional home insurance policy.

“There are multiple benefits for both the insurer and the policyholder. The technology, including smart cameras, motion sensors and water-leak devices, has the potential to significantly reduce claims experience by providing early warning and notification. As an example: In the U.K., where the largest cause of damage is water leakage, a device that allows the water to be shut off when a leak is detected will therefore significantly reduce claims costs and ensure a happy homeowner.

“One of the leaders in this area is a U.K. insurtech called Neos, which is pioneering the move to preventative home insurance leveraging the latest IoT devices.”

As we see in the graph above, there is a substantial gap between our leaders, auto (80%), home (71%) and health (64%), and our stragglers, P&C/general (44%), commercial (33%) and life (29%). However, the current primacy of the personal lines should in no way blind us to the potential of IoT for commercial lines, which, despite not attracting quite the same media attention to date, remains huge.

See also: Coverage Risks From the ‘Internet of Things’  

IoT can transform the insurance proposition attaching to any kind of valuable commercial asset – provided that it can be monitored. For example, opening up data streams from industrial equipment for algorithmic modeling enables preventative maintenance, reducing the burden of failure for both equipment owners and insurers alike, and the same applies to sensitive cargoes in transit. As with UBI for the personal lines, the carrier is transformed from insurer to assurer:

“Connected insurance is a big opportunity in commercial insurance, but it won’t come overnight. It’s the less mature use case today because it’s more difficult to figure out the commercial or industrial process, how to put sensors on that process and how to get at the data. But the opportunity to change the product’s structure, the paradigm you are using to insure that kind of risk, is really large; it’s impressive.” – Matteo Carbone, founder and director at Connected Insurance Observatory

Our stats on implementation (which we examine below) show that commercial & P&C/general currently exhibit a lower level of platform implementation than our other lines. However, in line with the strong all-round potential we have indicated here, we find minimal difference between our different lines when we look forward to anticipated levels of implementation in the near future.

IoT Adoption by Region

It is one thing to establish in which lines and areas of insurance the potential impact of IoT is greatest – but where are we on the adoption curve?

22% of all concerned parties have already implemented IoT platforms; within 12 months, this is set to rise to 47%; and within 24 months we will be at 72% implementation. What this tells us is that we are in the midst of an IoT rush, which will see it become a majority-practical phenomenon within two years for those players today still predominantly at the theoretical stage.

Regionally, we detected a relative lead in implementation for Europe versus the rest of the world, with 30% of respondents having already implemented. However, the scores for these two groups quickly align, as we can see above. You can read more about our notion of Europe as an early adopter in our dedicated Regional Profile, by downloading the full Trend Map below here.

Stay tuned for our next post, in which we look at that all-important field, especially for the success of IoT products: Marketing & Customer-Centricity.

3 Key Points on Value-Based Care

One thing we know for sure is that the “train has left the station” when it comes to healthcare reform. No matter what party you follow, or policy you like to support or ignore, the healthcare industry MUST change to a value-based platform. What that means is that, while the financial infrastructure of receiving healthcare used to be a pay per visit/test/hospital stay, etc., it is moving to a payment system based on outcomes — or “value,” as we like to brand it, because it sounds better.

What that means is a radical change for any associated industry, including, foremost, insurance companies, the ultimate risk bearers. All insurance executives rejoice, right? The idea of offsetting the risk to the providers responsible for the care of the patient sounds like one heck of a business strategy. Is it, and what does this mean to the insurtech conversation? My point of view: A LOT.

Keep reading. I promise I’ll keep it short…who has time for long articles? My goal is to get your thoughts charged around how this affects you and give you an idea or two

It may be relevant to know that I am a long-term provider advocate, having been the chief administrator of a large OB/GYN group while I cut my teeth in healthcare and having served 10 years as the CEO of the then-largest and most prestigious primary care/internal medicine group in the region. I can tell you that this movement is the RIGHT thing to do, and I can also tell you that it is complex, expensive and overwhelming.

See also: U.S. Healthcare: No Simple Insurtech Fix  

The days of small practices with time to actually spend with the patient and not face the computer (and be buried in endless paperwork burdens, digital or not) are seemingly gone due to the demands of the system. If you have been to a medical facility as an actual patient in the last year, (and I hope you have been for at least your annual physical), I am confident that you saw this first-hand. Your experience likely included witnessing every staff member from the front desk to the clinical team inputting data of all sorts into the computer, and perhaps not having enough time asking you how you “really” were. (READ: COULD THIS BE A RISK ISSUE?) What you may have also noticed is that you probably had to pay more than you expected. Gone are the days of the $10 co-pay. The movement to high-deductible plans has changed the game completely. So what does this mean to you?

In the March 2017 article by Sam Evans, “The 10 Trends at the Heart of the Insurtech Revolution” #1 was that “Insurance will be bought differently,” (also sold, underwritten, etc.) The demands of the medical community and the patient are under attack with what seems like an endless need to capture and understand data, learn, develop new payment infrastructures and oh, by the way, be transparent so everyone knows exactly what is going down. Dr. Halee Fischer-Wright (the CEO of the national Medical Group Management Association and a physician) rants in her new book, “Back to Balance,” about this early and often. She says that “according to the MGMA study, it costs the average practice $40,069 per physician per year to just manage and report quality measures. For a relatively small practice of 10 doctors, that’s more than $400,000 per year. Not to improve on measures–just to report.” WOW- She continues with story after story and urges us to consider how to get a better balance and to put the patient at the front of the conversation. It’s a good read, and I’d recommend it if you have clients in the healthcare space.

Three key points to digest:

  1. Value-based healthcare is here to stay: It changes everything for every healthcare-related client you have. If you are on the risk side of the business, understanding how the new systems are creating learning opportunities, barriers and downright sinkholes that your clients may fall into is mission-critical. (I didn’t get into it, but clearly the issues with technology and the added complexity of detailed health information is the patient privacy/hacking issues… oh, yes… another policy that healthcare providers need to buy or buy more of to protect their patient information.)
  2. The pure cost of healthcare is increasing due to many competing factors, and most of that cost is SHIFTING to the patient. This means insurance is being bought differently. This means that new insurance alternatives are popping up, (concierge, direct primary care, employer-sponsored, etc.) and that there are NEW customers for you to understand and educate on the role that insurtech plays in their world. Many of these are NEW AND INNOVATIVE companies that need deep knowledge on these matters.
  3. Anyone who has physician/hospital clients should be VERY AWARE AND EDUCATED on every aspect from risk assignment, to education, how technology affects patient care and ultimately malpractice, financial pressures- I would say EVERYTHING is up for review and understanding.

See also: Healthcare: Need for Transparency

If as an industry, we are to be the BEST PARTNERS for our clients, then we must do more than have a cursory understanding of the multiple issues with value-based care. If anyone needs a tutorial, I am up for helping out!

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.

How Is Marine the Heart of Insurtech?

Who would have thought marine insurance would be at the center of the insurtech revolution? The relationship between insurtech and marine insurance is not an obvious one for many people.

Marine is one of the oldest and most traditional classes of business, the origins of Lloyds of London, when from 1686 members of the shipping industry congregated in the coffee house of Edward Lloyd to arrange early forms of marine insurance.

However, two recent announcements firmly place marine in the center of the technology revolution affecting insurance.

First, Maersk announced they are building a blockchain-based marine insurance platform with EY, Guardtime, Microsoft and several insurance partners. Second, a U.K.-based technology company, called Concirrus, announced the launch of the first AI-powered marine insurance analytics platform.

At Eos, this was not surprising.

See also: Insurance Needs a New Vocabulary  

In the first half of 2017, as part of our thesis-driven investment approach, we highlighted commercial insurance as a key area of focus and within that our first product vertical to focus on was marine insurance. What led us to this conclusion?

Commercial marine insurance is a $30 billion premium market, it’s complex and fragmented, and through our analysis we identified a significant potential shift in profit pools over the next few years. Importantly, the emergence of IoT and other devices has created a wealth of data within the industry. Marine also sits at the heart of global supply chain logistics.

During our deep dive into the sector and having spoken with more than 40 market participants across various parts of the value chain, it became apparent that marine insurers (and shippers) have never had so much data (internal and external) available to them, and many don’t have the tools or skill set to take advantage of it.

Growing competition, underwriting capacity and downward pressure on pricing has given little room to maneuver, but we were intrigued and kept digging.

The ability to gather and analyze these new information sources is helpful, but more important will be driving actionable insights through well-informed decision making based on high-quality, real-time data and analytics to improve risk selection, pricing and claim management while helping the insured better manage risk. As with many parts of insurtech, the underlying driver is the move from pure risk transfer to risk mitigation, and from prevention to prediction.

The creation of marine analytics solution platforms provide tailored insights to users, which is an important first step. Currently, software and tech providers to the marine industry are fragmented, with no dominant vendors and no joined up, end-to-end solutions.

As the market matures, the ability to harness analytics capability at the front end with improved efficiency at the back end through blockchain or other initiatives creates an even more compelling story and is an area we will be watching with interest.

Key Trends in Innovation (Part 7)

This article is the sixth in a series on key forces shaping the insurance industry. The other parts can be found at these links: Parts One, Two, Three, Four/Five and Six can be found Part OnePart Two, Part Three, Parts Four and Five and Part Six.

 

Trend #7: Partnerships and alliances are the way forward in internal innovation; incubation and maturing of capabilities will no longer be the optimal option. And dynamic innovation will require aggressive external partnerships and acquisitions.

As such, a model that encourages collaboration and embraces partnerships and alliances with third parties has the best chance of driving successful innovation.

Incumbents can innovate from within, but this is often difficult because of the challenges of innovating within an existing business, the risk of disrupting BAU activities and the different motivations that drive individuals.

See also: The One Thing to Do to Innovate on Claims  

At Eos, one of the core principles underlying our vision is that insurtech will deliver the most value through a collaborative approach between incumbents and startups. Identifying common goals will be key to ensure the collaboration is a success, particularly given significant cultural differences.

Another challenge in the current environment is that the sales cycle is painfully long. The average is 12 months, an awfully long time for a typical startup. Even with senior buy-in and a decision to proceed, it can still take six months to get a startup to launch. In many instances, the process adopted by an insurer to onboard a large technology provider — like Guidewire or SAP for a major transformation project — seems to be the same as for the startup.

In response, an increasing number of startups have decided to apply for a license and set up a full-stack insurer. This is a challenging model and will require significant investment capital, but many are succeeding, and others will, too. However, it would be a real shame if insurers cannot find a way to become more open, agile and responsive. They bring customers, distribution, products, underwriting capacity and a wealth of experience that can be applied. They are also working on internal innovation projects that can play a key role.

The Eos model has been designed to address this challenge; we have created a bridge between incumbents and startups. The investors in our fund are from within the insurance sector, are reinsurers, are insurers and are brokers. They make the investment for two reasons: the prospect of strong financial returns and, more importantly, an opportunity to create a strategic partnership that gives them the ability to access and engage with cutting-edge innovation. By creating an ecosystem that supports collaboration and embraces development, we significantly shorten the adoption cycle.

One of the interesting dynamics as we embrace new technology is that AI sits at the center of three exponential forces:

  • Moore’s law refers to the fact that computing increases in power and decreases in relative cost at an exponential pace;
  • Kryder’s law refers to the rapid increases in density and the capability of hard-drive storage media over time; and
  • Metcalfe’s law refers to the community value of a network that grows as the square of the number of its users increase.

Those laws mean that change happens so fast that, if you miss the boat, there will be no way of catching up….

The cost of sitting on the sidelines and not embracing insurtech could mean the death of your business.

See also: 10 Reasons to Innovate — NOW!  

We hope you enjoy these insights, and we look forward to collaborating with you as we create a new insurance future.

The next article in the series, “Trend #8: Simple ‘Grow or Go,’” will showcase how decisions of the last decade will be sub-optimal as the dust settles in insurtech and how degrees of freedom will be the key.