Two things I enjoyed this week, both at the expense of Admiral (sorry guys). The first was a TV ad that’s currently doing the rounds:
Beautifully illustrated, but what a message from Admiral: we don’t innovate and if we did, it wouldn’t work. Guys, guys, guys.
The second is another Admiral classic. It’s from the Twitter handle @GrinchInsurtech, which I’ve only just discovered:
Dear Admiral folk, we’re just down the road from you (in Bristol)…if you did want to say hello. Appreciate I may have just burnt that bridge :)
Before diving into some (actual) innovation chat, I was reading about the difficulties SoftBank is having as it tries to meet the $108bn target for the Vision Fund 2. There was of course the usual WeWork stuff but what jumped out is that SoftBank participated in (not always as the sole VC) 6% of all European startup investments in 2019. 6%. Just huge.
Right, time for a glimpse into what’s been going on in the world of insurance innovation.
Health & Life
A few fundraises to get the ball rolling...
Digital diabetes management platform Second Nature (previously OurPath) has raised a $10m Series A with participation from existing investors and the founder of Revolut. This follows January's $20m Series B raised by Oviva, another UK-based startup helping diabetes patients.
HealthJoy, an AI-based virtual assistant which help employees find and use benefits, has secured $30m in a Series C round. With a monthly login rate of 33% and over 500 employers using its service, it kind of answers the question whether customers want to engage with virtual assistants.
Out East and Czech life insurer, Mutumutu, has raised €1.1m from France’s third-largest bank. Early doors for the team but another interesting incentivised healthy-living proposition getting out the blocks.
Staying with early-stage life insurance, a sector that is comparatively inactive on the innovation front, and we noticed Bequest were building their team. London-based Bequest, an output from Founders Factory, is pitching itself as a platform that connects a customers’ digital life with their physical life, in turn offering relevant, pay-as-you-go insurance policies that suit.
Interesting. Plus it states its working with Aviva and Covea Insurance to help bring the product to market. Worth keeping an eye on.
In corporate land MetLife UK has announced a tele-underwriting option to their medical insurance products; a 30-minute phone consultation offered as an alternative to completing the more traditional application forms. A step in the right direction. I guess.
More excitingly, I was pleased to read Southern Cross Health Society announced 3 consecutive years of growth, and a shift in focus from insurance to 'assurance'.
With recent innovations from the company, including their BeingWell scheme and an ongoing programme of digital transformation, Southern Cross has a longer-term aim of reshaping the entire NZ private health system to empower the consumer and encourage healthier living.
"The insights and support we get from Sønr and the Tällt team is invaluable, and it’s a key part of our strategy practice at Southern Cross. They help us see beyond the headlines to understand the trends driving change, as well as the propositions that are resonating with customers.
As a result, we have fewer blind spots and make more informed decisions about the future of our business."
He's a good man that Nic Johnson.
Finally, a random one. Filipino insurtech Saphron has launched Mona, their 'heartbreak' cover product.
“In case your planned wedding or any relationship anniversary celebration gets cancelled because of a breakup we intend to give you that break from heartbreak, with a one-night stay at one of our partner hotels.”
Ha. I assume it’s a single room you get.
I lied, one more thing. If you haven’t gotten to it already, this is the shareholder wrap up of 2019 published by Alan, the French health insurer. Well worth a read.
In a week of market freefall, we’re also seeing some crazy M&A valuations. A couple of biggies this week are Intuit, the owner of Mint and Quickbooks, has acquired Credit Karma for approximately $7.1bn. The other, five-year old Revolut has raised a further $500m at a $5.5bn valuation.
Keeping with Revolut - it's now worth twice as much as Monzo and is sitting on over 10 million customers. Huge. Interestingly it's also just partnered with TrueLayer (the Open Banking API guys) so that customers can view and manage multiple external bank accounts in-app.
Another Open Banking play this week is LendingClub, the USA's largest lending marketplace, stating its intent to acquire the online bank Radius. Whilst Radius is not a fintech per se, it has worked hard on its tech capabilities, in particular its Banking-as-a-Service API. Plus having $1.4bn in current account deposits helps make the company attractive I guess!
Good to see Concirrus continuing to smash it. The UK-based provider of enhanced marine and auto analytics closed a $20m Series B and this week, announced a new Fleet risk management product. The founders also look to be opening up their driver behaviour tracking for personal customers with a new brand, Kudo.
Slightly further afield and Tokio Marine has licensed Metromile's auto claims technology. In turn they launched a digital FNoL Report product, enabling drivers to report incidents online and on a mobile app.
And in the US, Bold Penguin has launched a new auto insurance service to its platform, enabling business-use auto insurance to be quoted with other types of cover in a bundle. All good.
Finally, Saga is selling Motorcycle broker Bennetts to Ardonagh Group for £26m. Saga originally bought the company in 2015 for £26.26m. Not sure it was quite the markup Saga would've hoped for back when they bought it in 2015.
Only a couple of things on the commercial side this week.
Digital Risks, which recently reported a MoM growth of 25%, raised a £8m Series A led by BHL Holdings, the majority owner of BGL Group.
And At-Bay, the cyber insurance platform, has secured a $34m Series B round led by Munich Re Ventures and Acrew Capital. The company plans to enhance its product offerings and provide deeper underwriting and claims management.
As with a load of SøNws, I have to skim this stuff pretty quick. That’s not to say they’re less important. It’s just Friday and the day job is screaming at me. Plus my dog is definitely giving me that ‘take me out soon or else’ look.
First to check out is the no-code application platform Unqork which added a $51m top-up to its Series B this week. Its final Series B total now comes to $131m. These guys are pretty impressive and state they’ll use the funding to boost sales, marketing and engineering teams and build out global partnerships. It's already working with Manulife, Liberty Mutual and HSBC.
Uncharted, the Singapore-based developer working with insurance companies reliant on legacy technology, has raised US$5.8m in its Series A. The funding follows the company's merger with Shift Insurtech.
And as the world continues its shift to mobile, Eureka AI, an enterprise software company that enables partnerships between mobile operators and large enterprises, has raised a $20m Series B. The new funding will be used to expand in Europe and the US, and continue the development of its products.
To wrap things off, a few announcements I picked up on this week.
Gig economy insurtech Zego launched into its fifth European country with a headcount of over 200 - representing 3x growth in 12 months.
Laka revealed it is working on a recovery, health and well-being product for cyclists, and that it is looking to move its model out of cycling and sports for the first time.
And American International Group stated it will invest $1.3bn over the next three years into its AIG 200 initiative. A serious chunk of cash that is much needed. The AIG 200 which has been around for a while now is designed to improve core processes, technology infrastructure and services.
Think I might sign off and give AIG a call. Surely they’re going to need access to Sønr’s market intel before they go spending too much of that cash.
Before I shoot, check out our latest Spøtlight with Alex Rainey of Pluto. We met these guys a couple of years back and they’ve gone from strength-to-strength. In my last SøNws I wrote about their partnership with Yolt. Read what Alex has to say about that and other tie-ups including one with Babylon Health.
That’s it from me. Greta Thunberg is in town along with tens of thousands who have come out to see her. I have a feeling my dog walk might take a little longer than usual.
Have good weekends all.
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