New research from Startupbootcamp InsurTech (SBC) and PwC explores how InsurTech has rapidly evolved over the past three years since Startupbootcamp InsurTech was established. The report shows that the narrative surrounding InsurTech has shifted and both parties are now working together to take the insurance industry into the next decade.
In year one, the debate focused on how startups would disrupt the incumbent insurance sector. In year two, the emphasis moved to collaboration, as startups and insurers pondered how to combine the former’s technology with the latter’s customer knowledge, understanding of risk, and capital strength. These collaborations looked beyond front-end focused applications in order to solve problems throughout the value chain.
Now in 2018 this evolution is continuing. Startups are increasingly coming into insurance from adjacent industries such as agriculture, property, health and transport, supporting insurers to offer new services to clients.
Startupbootcamp InsurTech and PwC address this progression in the report and categorise the Startupbootcamp applicants into those startups that sit within insurance and those that are beyond the sector. The latter group includes:
- Startups focused on an entirely different industry that could exist regardless of applications in insurance – examples include firms offering preventive services to property managers;
- Startups that provide industry-agnostic services, but which now hope to serve the insurance sector – examples include firms offering customer service enhancement.
As well as a rise in the total number of applications, Startupbootcamp InsurTech has seen an increase in applications from adjacent industries as startups recognize that the insurance industry is ripe for innovation. This year, 61% of SBC applicants were from beyond insurance – and the trend of the program itself is clear. While 75% of the 2017 SBC cohort were clearly from within insurance, 80% of this year’s selection operate beyond the sector; they could standalone without insurers but now hope to sell to the industry or collaborate with its incumbents.
Key findings from the report include:
- Collaboration with startups from adjacent industries – such as agriculture, aircraft manufacturing, health, cyber-security, maritime and general transport – gives insurers the opportunity to access new revenue streams, for example to invest more energy in preventing damages happening before a claim needs to be made. 80% of SBC partners surveyed believe the future of insurance is prevention.
- Startups can provide access to new data sources or offer new ways to drive value from data: Artificial Intelligence is the primary technology for 41% of SBC applicants. With powerful algorithms, they have the potential to give insurers insights from their vast amounts of data. The clear challenge is how to integrate with the insurers’ existing technology. Rather than attempt to build cumbersome links with old systems, some insurers are taking the approach of setting up completely new technology infrastructure which will allow for easy integration of third party plug ins.
- Insurers and startups are increasingly looking at new products: 84% of surveyed SBC partners said that they are interested in finding an innovative solution in cyber, and 80% are interested in business models linked to trends attached to the sharing economy.
- Innovation has moved beyond just watch and learn, Insurers are now exploring how to scale proof of concepts into their broader businesses.
- Gender diversity is improving – but still has a long way to go – 23% of applications to Startupbootcamp this year had female founders and co-founders. However, application data shows that men are still five times more likely to hold a Chief Technology Officer position, whilst women are twice as likely to be Chief Marketing Officers.
- Disruption is still coming: although startups are increasingly looking to partner rather than disrupt, threats will come from tech giants, telecoms and other industries. Beyond these threats, startups have the potential to scale and collaborate to own the entire value chain – first moving reinsurers are already in pool position to provide the capacity.
Sabine VanderLinden, CEO, Startupbootcamp InsurTech, says: “In just three years we have seen three clear market shifts from Customer Engagement + Apps to core system innovation, from personal lines to other insurance lines from pure InsurTechs to beyond. When we observe the trend, we have called “Beyond Insurance”, while we knew these collaborative connections were clearly on their way, we did not realize how fast they would become embedded within the very fabric of fast moving ventures. As we continue to support our insurance clients with the next phase of their transformation journeys, we look forward to driving impact with the reconfiguration of their business models.”
Jim Bichard, UK insurance leader at PwC, adds: “This year’s process has really brought home how things have changed and matured in InsurTech and how startups have been a real shot in the arm for the insurance industry. Three years ago, the hype was about startups disrupting traditional insurers, stealing customers and market share. Now the talk – and increasingly the reality – is about startups and insurers working together to create meaningful partnerships. All parties are working together and learning from other sectors to solve problems within insurance and react to the changing outside world. This approach to innovation is creeping up the agenda for our insurance clients and it’s a pleasure to watch these small companies grow whilst helping insurers with their technology agendas.”
What next for InsurTech? The outlook for InsurTech startups is bright. Not every new venture will succeed but in a sector that is hungry for innovation – and increasingly willing to look beyond its boundaries for new ideas and solutions – the best startups have every chance of commercial success, whether in collaboration with incumbents or on a standalone basis.