The rise of insurtech: a new dawn for the insurance industry
Gigabit dives deep into the disruptive world of insurtech and examines some of the up-and-coming firms set to change the way insurers do business forever.
At least 86% of insurers think their revenues will be at risk from future technological disruption – and perhaps nothing demonstrates this better than the rise of game-changing insurtechs. It’s clear that the insurance industry is now on the brink of change. Whilst some traditional insurers are more than 300 years old, many fledgling insurtechs may be less than 300 days old – and this clash of old and new is producing massive benefits. Just as the advent of fintechs shook up the financial sector, there is growing recognition that the insurance industry will benefit greatly from the surge of innovation brought by insurtech firms. People are putting their money behind these disruptors too: investment in the insurtech industry doubled between 2017 and 2018, according to FinTech Global. Speaking at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Australia last year, Juergen Weiss, managing vice president at Gartner, outlined how insurance CIOs could learn a lot from insurtechs. “Insurance CIOs need to expand their market insight concerning the innovation and disruption potential of insurtechs,” he said. “Start by identifying the areas where insurtechs could add value; then evaluate potential collaboration or investment opportunities.”
Incumbent insurance companies are beginning to cop on to the merits of insurtechs. In fact, Accenture’s Technology Vision 2016 revealed that 44% of insurers across the world intend to pursue digital initiatives with startups from the insurance industry over the next two years. Offering more personalisation and greater speed and efficiency of services, insurtechs are using artificial intelligence (AI) machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT) and other tools to reimagine the way insurers do business. Using this years' Post Insurtech 100 rankings, Gigabit takes a look at some of the top insurtech firms you should watch out for.
Shift Technology has made a name for itself by providing AI-native solutions for the global insurance industry. The Parisian firm offers a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) that uses data science to detect networks of fraudsters in insurance. With a team of around 90 developers, data scientists and project managers, Shift Technology is headquartered in Paris, France. Its sister offices are located in Singapore, London, Madrid, Zurich and Hong Kong. The company gained the 5th spot on the Post Insurtech ranking.
“Insurance CIOs need to expand their market insight concerning the innovation and disruption potential of insurtechs. Start by identifying the areas where insurtechs could add value; then evaluate potential collaboration or investment opportunities” - Juergen Weiss, managing vice president at Gartner
Gained the 4th spot on the Post Insurtech ranking, Lemonade claims to be the “world’s first open source insurance policy”. Headquartered in New York City, US, Lemonade offers homeowners and renters insurance powered by artificial intelligence and behavioural economics. In 2016, the firm claimed to set a world record for the fastest claim handled at three seconds. Lemonade is certified B-Corp — a for-profit business dedicated to making a positive impact on society, workers, the community and the environment — and so it takes a flat fee.
Aiming to be a health insurance company centred around the patient, Oscar Health has over 700 employees serving around 350,000 individual members and small businesses. The American firm offers insurance services in nine US States: New York, New Jersey, California, Texas, Ohio, Tennessee, Arizona, Michigan, and Florida. Gaining the 3rd spot on the ranking, Oscar Health points out how it has “the highest mobile engagement of any insurer” with 43% of its members’ first visits to the doctor being routed through its technology and customer service teams.
With investors including Amazon, SAIF Partners, Accel Partners and Catamaran Ventures, Acko General Insurance is digital insurance firm based in India. The company raised a total of $42mn in funding and earned the 2nd spot on the Post Insurtech 100 ranking. The Mumbai-based startup was founded in 2017 by Varun Dua.
Touting itself as “China’s first complete online insurance company”, ZhongAn has claimed the top spot on the Post Insurtech leaderboard. The company’s CEO is Jin “Jeffrey Chen” but it was initially cofounded by some of the country’s most renowned business magnates including Alibaba’s Jack Ma, Tencent’s Pony Ma and Ping An Insurance’s Mingzhe Ma. In 2017, the Chinese insurer raised $1.5bn in its IPO in what the Financial Times described as “the world’s first insurtech public offering.”
Ireland is key launchpad for US expansion into Europe
The first transatlantic cable was laid between Newfoundland and Valentia Island in County Kerry, Ireland, in 1858. It was a flawed effort; the connection was poor, causing enough issues with efforts to send telegrams along it that major repair efforts were set underway immediately - efforts which ended up further damaging the cable line, severing the connection just three weeks later.
This first step towards transatlantic subsea communication, shaky as it was, laid the foundations of more than a century and a half of information exchange across the ocean, between the East Coast of North America and Western Ireland.
It’s been 163 years since the completion of the first transatlantic cable, an event which cemented Ireland’s position as the landing stage for subsea connections between Europe and the Americas. That position has, in no small way, been a driving force behind the country’s modern role as a landing stage for US and Canadian firms looking to do business in Europe.
Today, some of the largest firms in the world, like Pfizer, Janssen, Zurich, Metlife, Google and VmWare use Ireland for their European Headquarters. The combination of an English-speaking workforce (a boon made all the more important as Brexit makes the UK and the north of Ireland an increasingly complex environment that provides diminishing opportunities to access the rest of Europe), a cultural and regulatory landscape that welcomes foreign investment, and world-class connectivity makes the country an unparalleled choice for firms looking to establish a foothold in the EU.
As a result, Ireland has become one of the world’s leading data centre hubs.
Based on leading data centre firm Interxion’s Data Gravity Index, Dublin will be among the top five European cities that will contribute to Europe’s growth in data in the coming years, following London, Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. The amount of data generated in Dublin itself is expected to grow alongside its economic expansion, with the Data Gravity Index also predicting that Dublin will outpace cities and data centre hubs like Mexico City, São Paulo, and even Shanghai, to be among the top 20 cities to experience annual data growth by 2024.
Ireland ranks 6th in the 2020 EU Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), meaning that it is among the leading ranks of EU Member States in terms of the uptake and use of digital technologies. Likewise, the trend to locate data centres in Ireland serving overseas clients will continue to generate increasing amounts of international traffic
Managing the Dublin Data Boom
According to Interxion, subsea connectivity will continue to play a massive role in helping both international and domestic organisations digitally transform themselves to meet the challenges of changing markets post pandemic.
As the pace of global digital transformation - and the subsequent need for more connectivity - accelerates like never before, this rapidly developing world is driving urther demand for these cables as individuals and organisations become increasingly reliant on subsea cable’s exceptional data speed and capacity.
According to experts at Interxion, this connectivity will be pivotal to Ireland’s continued success in attracting international companies in the technology, pharmaceutical and financial sectors.
The subsea cable industry is a key contributor to the Irish economy across many sectors. The draft National Marine Planning Framework reported that subsea international networks make Ireland an attractive region for investment for the technology and digital sectors. Telegeography states that there are twelve existing subsea cables connecting Ireland to the US and UK, and a further four systems are under development. The Iish government’s statement on the Role of Data Centres in Ireland’s Enterprise Strategy identified Ireland as a location of choice for many different sectors reliant on digital and telecommunications capabilities, all of which in turn rely on subsea cable interconnectivity.
Subsea cables are of strategic importance to Ireland’s future as a catalyst for economic and societal prosperity. Ireland can be the ideal location for your company’s expansion plans. To find out how, you can hear from leading experts throughout the data centre and digital infrastructure industries on June 15, 2021, as speakers from the IDA, Aqua Comms, GTT Communications, euNetworks and Interxion discuss subsea cabling, digital transformation, Data Gravity and the fate of Ireland’s digital economy.
Key topics will include:
- Key facts about existing subsea infrastructure,
- Future plans,
- Challenges (including Marine Maintenance) and opportunities,
- Terrestrial networks (demand vs supply);
- Ireland's role as a gateway to Europe
The virtual panel (which is taking place between 10:30 PM - 11:30 PM JST on June 15, 2021) will conclude with a 20 minute Q&A. Mike Hollands, Senior Director of Market Development at Interxion, will moderate the event.