Admiral, Amazon and acceleration (of all things digital)

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Hello all.
 
A huge thanks to those who took part in our recent survey; our attempt to better understand how insurance companies are re-planning for the new world.
 
We had over 70 responses and some crazily aligned thinking.
 
The key takeaways:

  • Everyone is reviewing strategy (probably not that surprising!)
  • The focus in on near term (0-3 years) digital activity
  • The greatest challenge is how to accelerate digitisation

 
The report explores the traditional blockers to accelerating digitisation and how, with the right knowledge and collaboration, companies can reduce their time to value dramatically.

I’ll be sharing the report with those who contributed a little later today. If you’d like a copy, drop me a line, otherwise look out for it over the next few days on LinkedIn.
 
 
In other news, it was great fun hosting the quiz last week. Congratulations to Nigel Walsh of Deloitte (who I can only assume got sight of the questions ahead of time) and thanks to all those who got involved. I’m sure we’ll run another one soon - this week things got a little too busy.
 
 
As with most parts of my life, I’m not too keen to get back to the old ways, so forgive me if the format of Sø.Nws varies over the coming weeks as I explore new structures:
 
 
GOOD TIMES
With the exception of absolute standout businesses, it’s tough to raise at the moment. And it’ll get tougher until the tail-end of the summer. And even then, who knows really?
 
But there is good news. There’s still a bunch of companies closing the rounds they’ll have kicked off in the pre-Covid-19 world. 
 
One, I’m sure most of you will have picked up is Alan, the French health insurer. They raised €50m in a Series C funding round led by Temasek - bringing their total funding to €125m in four years.

I spoke alongside Jean-Charles, the founder of Alan, a few years back at an iFHP event in Lisbon. He talked through his personal journey from revolutionising aircraft seating to starting a health insurance company.
 
When questioned about his ambitions for Alan, without hesitation he cited global domination. And that was to a room full of the world’s leading health insurers. Good man.
 
Another health-related raise was digital provider Yes Health which closed a $6m Series A. Fully regulated and with a tight focus on diabetes prevention through improved weight and diet, Yes Health guides its users through personalised fitness and nutrition programmes with a blend of AI and human coaching. Worth a check out if you’re in this space.
 
Shifting away from health which, unsurprisingly, is getting most of the investment attention, are a few other interesting and hopefully relevant businesses which are continuing their build.
 
Open Banking-powered fintech Credit Kudos has scooped a £5m Series A. Using OB data as a means to offer reliable credit scores to otherwise underserved borrower segments, the startup won over 50 new lender accounts last year in addition to building several significant partnerships.

And a couple from last week worth a mention - reverse auction marketplace Honcho has raised an additional £1.2m and Parsyl a $15m Series A. On the latter, if smart cargo insurance solutions is your thing - and I challenge anyone to say it’s not - they’ve launched a new parametric product paying out in 72 hours. Nice.
 
It also reminds me I need to chase my tortuous travel insurance claim from last month…and not renew with my current insurer.
 
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But good news isn’t just about the tech innovation.
 
I loved reading about our friends at Southern Cross returning premiums of NZ$50m (approx. £24m) to its 880k members and 4k business customers. Well done you guys.
 
Also, in the UK, Admiral is the first of its kind to offer compensation to its drivers affected by lockdown measures. The insurer is set to return £110m to the owners of the 4.4m cars and vans it covers, with customers receiving an automatic £25 refund.
The rebate has been incredibly well received by customers and the market alike, in part because of the exceptionally well crafted and considered letter from Cristina Nestares, CEO of UK Insurance at Admiral.
 
Final call out, Swiss Re has announced it's opening access to its proprietary Life Guide underwriting manual for 90 days, with the aim to support Life and Health insurers review the way they assess risk in these unprecedented times.
 
 
TOUGH TIMES
Naturally, it’s not all rosy out there.
 
I’m going to keep this pretty light touch as there’s enough bad news to read out there…especially when you wake up to the news Donald Trump suggests people could receive injections of disinfectant to cure the coronavirus. WTF? He is such a dangerous man.
 
Following Metromile's employee cut of 50 earlier in the month, Slice followed suit by letting go of a third of its staff (around 28 employees). And UK’s Lenny, a short-term auto cover startup (underwritten by Covéa), announced it's closing the business after its backers could no longer offer the funding needed, blaming the timing of Covid-19.

Interesting to also see QBE announce plans to raise AU$1.3bn (US$825m) to act as a financial buffer in preparation for economic difficulties to come following the global pandemic.
 
Tough times. That is for sure.
 
 
INTERESTING TIMES
Who doesn’t love keeping an eye on what the Amazons and Googles are up to?
 
This week we clocked Amazon sent out a health insurance survey to its sellers, suggesting (maybe?) that the company is looking into how it could use its insurance interests to help small businesses.
 
And another chapter in 'the giants are coming' story, the Google Cloud Healthcare API has hit the shelves (although not without a bit of controversy). Joining the likes of Microsoft and Amazon, it enables data sharing between healthcare applications and systems built on Google's cloud architecture. Super interesting.
 
 
RANDOM TIMES
A couple of more randomly timed announcements that made me smile this week.
 
Blink chose this week, of all weeks, to launch Blink Luggage, its new travel insurance solution. Handy.
 
And Babel Cover, in partnership with Atlas and Piprate, launched its bicycle insurance for competitive cyclists and athletes. Okay.
 
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And so that is it for me this week.
 
A reminder for all those who’d like access to our Accelerating Digital Innovation in Response to Covid-19 report, drop me a line and I’ll ping you over a copy.
 
And if you haven’t read ‘The Future of Telehealth’ report we published earlier this month, you probably should. It’s a good ‘un.
 
Last thing is we’re running a webinar, provisionally Tues 5th at 17.30 BST, to explore how automotive insurers are responding to a post Covid-19 world, and the impact it will have on the end-to-end customer experience. More on this next week.
 
Have good weekends all. Keep safe out there.
 
Matt
 
Sø.Nws is brought to you by Sønr. 

Sønr is a world-leading market intelligence platform created specifically for the insurance sector. It is used by small and large insurance companies, around the world, to accelerate corporate innovation.

It provides intelligence on market trends, competitor playbooks and disruptive tech companies globally. It also has a number of features that help you track and manage scouting activity across your organisation.
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