Movers and Shakers: “What did impress you most in 2019?”

Their decisions move billions in assets, millions of customers and hundred thousands of employees. Their insights and ideas shape the future of the insurance and finance industry around the world. 

We are honored that over 20 movers and shakers from insurers, banks, reinsurers, insurtechs, fintechs and tech companies from Europe, the near and middle East, North and South America took the time to share their perspective on the first 6 months of 2019 and their outlook on possible future developments.

We asked the following decision makers (in no particular order):

“Baloise always surprises me with new and pragmatic solutions. The customer needs are in the necessary focus and you feel, they want to get ahead. Concepts such as Friday, Movu and the cooperation with Kasko are very good and sometimes very successful examples of this. It is done a lot of things right and you can make learning to really make. Keep it up!”

“Digital insurance offers have taken a considerable step forward, particularly within the non-life business. DFV, Getsafe, mailo, Neodigital, … They all have advanced their platforms and showed best practices in their line of business. The shift from offline to online sales will continue as online will become the most important touchpoint for customers in the medium run. Digital and highly automated insurance platforms will become the new normal.”

“Now more than ever, our industry has returned to its roots, with intensive data analysis at the core of everything we do. New information sources and experts are available on both ends of most commercial insurance transactions today. I would urge carriers and insurtechs alike, to focus on partnering with their insureds, to accelerate their understanding and servicing of new risks.”

“The initial big hype in the fintech and insurtech scene has passed and made room to a more realistic assessment of the possibilities. As a positive result, the companies now concentrate on innovation which generates a more direct benefit for the core business.”

“I was most impressed by the customers‘ behavior and the vigor by which our customers push us to change. In the insurance world, we do not sell any fascinating or particularly interesting products. Quite the opposite – our products are often associated with damage, loss, disease or death. Thus, for an insurance company it is becoming increasingly important to convey customers a positive feeling of “being close”, covering their needs and worries, being sympathetic and service-oriented. Especially since customers today want to buy fast, easy and flexible, they expect the same from every single product or service offered – with increasing frequency. For this, insurers must completely rethink their strategy – including portfolio, calculation models, business models, personnel planning and processes.”

“Financial service businesses are accelerating the speed when leveraging signals, data and in particular social as a media channel to reach their business goals along the whole customer lifetime cycle. Nevertheless, most businesses still have plenty of work to do concerning people-based measurement and creative excellence for Feed or Stories.”

“I am still impressed how much silly money we have got in the market, looking at the various curious digital investments I have seen in 2019. The insurance industry should really start focusing on transforming its core business model and helping consumers at the very front and end of the extended sales funnel instead of investing  peripheral digital topics.”

“It is impressing to see how the top asset managers are able to generate a positive return and outperformance despite the challenging premises in the financial sector: The interest level has reached an all-time-low (and might decrease even further) and the regulatory requirements are sharpened continuously. However, as one of the aforementioned top asset managers we use to say: Pessimists complain about the wind, realists adjust the sail.”

“There have been some really high profile wins and partnership announcements from some of the largest insurtechs. It’s clear that the insurtech community is making a real impact in 2019.  For example from my own company, Bought By Many was awarded the title the UK’s Most Trusted Pet Insurance Provider at the 2019 Moneywise Customer Service Awards – voted for by over 30,000 members of the public. For an insurance product that is barely two years old, this demonstrates how fast insurtech can change the insurance marketplace for the end user.”

“That we agreed some new fantastic partnerships for our Generali Vitality program which will improve our proposition in autumn this year. Our aim this year is really improve the program and offer a new and innovative customer experience to all our members. This upgrade will include many new partners and many other exciting features that will make the program more engaging and fun for the customer.”

“I have been impressed with our team and how everyone has pulled together. We had a strong Q1 and Q2, bringing two new players, figo and Penta into the ecosystem as well as starting to build new ventures. We were also able to attract new talent to our team. They are thought leaders who bring new expertise to the ecosystem.”

“The InsurTech business is maturing in positive ways. Most notably, we’re seeing several MGA start-ups ready to own their own carriers. This trend ranges from starting a de-novo insurer all the way through buying 1000 person operations with existing infrastructure. Start-up MGAs, particularly in low-margin lines of business, are looking for the freedom to innovate that comes from owning your own licensed insurer. Along the way, they might find that it’s easier to achieve their vision by skipping a decade of hard work and acquiring an established insurer (not just a shell) that they can then apply better technology to.”

“Technology has impressed me the most. Dubai portals are thinking out of the box because they realise that agents don’t need to depend on them so much for business anymore for listings since we now sell a lot more from our personalised social media accounts.. but they DO need them for market and data analysis as well as providing speedy apps to use as we drive.”

“Personally I was impressed by the speed of the market entry of Lemonade in Europe. Although they currently have a tough start, it illustrated again that digital business models are global business models and there is no such thing as a difficult market to enter anymore. We need to expect international innovators to enter our markets sooner or later.”

“In January I spoke on the Paris Fintech Forum and had the pleasure to listen to the strategy of Ping An Insurance, the world’s biggest insurance company. According to them, almost a third of their company is already IT and they have big plans. I’m curious to see what they do in the next months and years. When it comes to our own ecosystem I’m positively impressed by the huge demand of our digital bancassurance platform in Germany and beyond. We talk to companies who want to digitize  insurances of their customers, but not only banks and insurance companies. There are so much more imaginable business cases and possibilities.”

“The Future of Insurance is unfolding – reinventing and reshaping insurance – and is top of mind for every leadership team and board that is focused on growth and innovation. The demands of growth, speed and innovation are dramatically different today than in the past.  In today’s world, responsiveness matters. Responsiveness is the healthy result of quick recognition (that something needs to change) and active speed (the pace at which the organization moves). And Leaders are responsible for the organization’s responsiveness and place their organizations on the paths that lead to success or failure for their future.  Leaders (established and new) are ahead in customer digital engagement, implementing extensive distribution strategies, creating a new business for the future, embracing partnerships, ecosystems and InsurTech, and the API and platform economy. “

“I think it has to be the traction customer-centric solutions are seeing and the level of collaboration between startups and traditional insurance companies in Europe. Unlike banking where the challenger banks are looking to steal the incumbents’ customers or disrupt the established industry models, we have yet to see similar dynamic play within the insurance space.

In fact, the companies that are getting the most traction are the startups that focus on solving specific problem on the InsurTech value chain such as distribution, underwriting or customer engagement. There is understanding between the startups and the incumbents that while the new InsurTechs are agile, innovative and can better reach the new millennial generation they still need the reputation and distribution of the established players. This has played out in increased number of partnership being established at the start of 2019 such as Aon partnerting with Claim CentralZurich with CoverWallet and Axa teaming with Carousell.”

“Lemonade starting activities in Europe (Germany) before all US, which means that despite all we hear, the regulation is less protective in Europe than in US for new comers and Wefox raising a huge amount with its business model fully customer centric. This opens some interesting developments including in other countries.”

“Many of the startups that were created a couple of years ago when insurtech wasn’t even a word are starting to mature into real businesses. That has become evident in the first half of 2019. Lemonade has proven successful so far in execution of their model, as have Slice, Bold Penguin and a few others as well. 

It is also impressive to see all of the various and sundry incubators and accelerators successfully turning ideas into testable business models. Some of the solutions I am seeing are much more mature than the solutions we were seeing from startups just two years ago. One such company is Benekiva, where the team is solving multiple related problems simultaneously and actually provide a solution that is not an expense for the carrier, but can directly impact revenue at the same time, which is a KPI which will get them a lot of attention.”

“In the first part of 2019 we saw some big investment rounds, one in Clover Health ($500M) and a Series D round of $300M for Lemonade. This confirms my idea about digital health solutions becoming key in helping close the gap between where healthcare is today and what it could potentially offer to people. Also investments in neobanks are still very much on the rise. Take for example the latest $440M round of OakNorth, a UK-based bank for SME’s, and the $300M round of N26, a Berlin-based mobile bank for consumers. This trend will most likely continue.”

“I was impressed by the growing number of investments flowing into ventures that are capturing the more “traditional” parts of the industries value chain, e.g. the announcement of FinLeap to build a venture in the comparison site market, as this is an extremely challenging, as well as potentially rewarding, business to operate in. Another example is WeFox, which will use its substantial funding to grow internationally and continue to become a relevant industry player not only in the insurance broker market.”

“What has impressed me most has been how global the FinTech and InsurTech movement has been. I was honored to be part of the Global Insurtech Summit in Istanbul in April 2019 which brought together innovators from Europe, Asia and the Middle East & even Africa and showed how much developing countries that have more constraints are driving innovation through telecom, mobile phones and other platforms to bring new, custom products to underserved markets. I saw even more of this when reviewing submissions for the Efma-Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards that were handed out in June. This recent article highlights this “reverse innovation” trend from developing countries to developed countries.”

“We have seen 3 important news in LatAm for the first semester: First, MercadoLibre (USD 30b of market cap., PayPal as a new investor), the most important ecommerce platform in LatAm has announced in June it decided to enter in the insurance sector. Today, Mercadopago (Fintech of Mercadolibre) is growing exponentially in LatAm with QR code payment and lendings. Second, the set up of the Softbank LatAm Tech Fund with Marcelo Claure for an amount of u$d 5b and the investment in Rappi for USD 1b. Rappi is a last-miles colombian startup that is additionally developing Rappi Pay as its innovative payment method through the mobile application. Third, Nubank (Bra) with Tencent as a major investor is the first LatAm Fintech Unicorn (created in 2013, valuation of u$d 10b. with more than 8m of clients) and is now expanding to Mexico and Argentina.”

“I’m impressed by startup innovation, like banks that are providing customers with zero-fee debit card on their cell phones, peer to peer payments, and spend tracking and analysis.”

“There were a couple of surprising startups which I didn’t expect to come-out this way:, Air-Doctor and also Yous are all Israel-based InsurTechs, very focussed and on an extremely advanced technical level. And their approaches are extremely interesting for insurers trying to improve their value-chain. Also surprising were Ewa (prevention against unemployment due to digitalization) as well as Insuredata (London) & Wetterheld (Hamburg), both using a parametric cover-structure against weather risks. Not sure if they will make it – but refreshingly innovative and new.”

“I am hugely impressed by how insurance start-ups have risen to the challenge of serving GIG-economy workers. Pay as you go policies are providing user-friendly, bespoke services to a proportion of modern urban society that is set to continue to expand.”

“The market entry of Lemonade into the German market was a bold move. We are thrilled to see how they are further developing their business model and how they will transfer their U.S. biased market approach towards Europe.”

We also asked what trends and developments these decision makers expect from the second half of 2019. We will publish those answers soon. 

Dr. Robin Kiera

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