AI, new risks and insurtechs going cheap

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I’m back.

Sadly my dad passed away last month and I’ve been out of the office for a good few weeks. And then it was a quick trip to New York to watch baseball, eat hotdogs and spend time with clients 🤷

Thanks Matt F for keeping SøNws rolling.

ITC DIA Europe
For those heading to Barcelona next week, hit me up.

We’ve got the launch of the Forward50 Europe taking place on Tuesday. It’s a big old global study of emerging trends, featuring the Soonicorns of the future. A proper one of its kind.

We’ll be sharing the analysis, hearing from judges and going deep with some of the startups featured.

It might already be waiting list only but do get your name down.

After that we co-host, The Future of Sustainability with Sabine VanderLinden and Alchemy Crew. It’s guaranteed to be another belter.

And then, on Wednesday, I’ve got the great honour of opening up the Gràcia Stage. I’ll be interviewing none other than our much-loved client Amélie Breitburd, CEO of Lloyd’s Europe.

Amélie is genuinely brilliant and it’ll be a great start to the event.

As for the rest of the week, I’m clear. Do reach out and say hello.
I definitely need to get back into the mix 👊

Generali scooping the Oscars of insurance 
Ah, another year, another gong.

Two golds, a silver and a bronze. Not bad Generali.

Congrats to all the team over there. It’s the result of plenty of hard work and a belief in change throughout the business. We are proud to play our small role in it.

From Oscars to fire sale 
Did you catch the French property insurtech Luko selling to Admiral Group?

It’s interesting, right? I met Raphaël, the founder of Luko for the first time a few years back. A youngish guy, super bright. He’d already started one startup.

He then went on to build, what appeared to be, a pretty decent company.

Luko raised $85m over the years, $60m of that coming in Dec 2020 including top investors like Accel, Founders Fund etc. They even bought out insurtech rivals Coya and Unkle. Last year 25% of home insurance policies sold online in France were via Luko.

So you hear they’ve agreed an exit and the immediate thought is congrats. But it’s only when you look into it all a little deeper does it get interesting.

They tried to raise a series C back in November 2022. It didn’t work out. And then, just a week before the acquisition, Luko filed to begin bankruptcy procedures in France.

And sadly I’ve got a feeling we’ll be seeing more of this.

There are plenty of startups out there who will be desperately trying to get their business models in shape whilst, in parallel, are fundraising to extend that cash runway. And many won’t make it.

Looking at it from an incumbent’s perspective – even with the debt needing to be picked up, I imagine Admiral have got a pretty good deal. Certainly one they couldn’t have got close to 12 months ago.

AI. It’s all about AI
Whilst in NY I was on a few panels and chatted with a tonne of people from the industry.

The one thing that got a lot of airtime – AI.

From automated underwriting to Gen AI to everything in between.

At a surface level it’s become table stakes. Pretty much all of the Forward50 APAC were shouting about how they’re using it. We’ve had it across Sønr’s data for years and are continuously exploring new opportunities. And lo and behold, there’s still money being poured in…

Instabase, a company that is a leader in Applied AI, has just raised $45m on a $2bn valuation.

Earlier this month it also launched AI Hub – a repository of AI apps focused on content understanding. The hub will have three core elements which enable users to converse, build end-to-end workflows, and access an app store for pre-built applications that can be used by anybody.

Nice. Next is Parrot, an AI-powered transcription platform for the insurance and legal industry.

These guys are a little earlier on and raised a $11m Series A.

They offer a speech-to-text solution which speeds up legal processes during claims.

And talking AI, good old Lemonade are back in the press. Possibly not as much as they’d have hoped after the last time their 7 second claim stole headlines around the world.

This time it was for a stolen bicycle. AI Jim set to work – assessed the claim, checked the policy conditions, and he even got stuck into the anti-fraud checks, all before approving the claim in 2 seconds.

Good old Jim.

And on that, dear Allianz, I’m still waiting for my travel claim to be processed. The one from 4 months ago. Please and thank you.

Final point on AI.

Those who know me, know I LOVE a good Softbank deck. This is a slide from their recent 43rd Annual Shareholder GM.

No flying unicorns over the ‘Valley of Coronavirus’ but still no complaints!

Market intelligence meets innovation management
This one is more for our clients (apologies if you’re not but really, you only have yourself to blame).

We’ve just launched a new feature which allows companies to better track innovation activity across their global teams.

For some this is PoCs, for others investments and M&A.

Think beautifully customised CRM combined with the best data on startups available anywhere 🚀🚀

Nice huh?

As the innovation function within incumbents matures, so does the need for appropriate innovation management and reporting tools. And what we’re hearing is what’s available out there currently, doesn’t cut it.

So we built it. You’re welcome.

Shout if you’d like to see it. Happy to run you through it. And, as I say, if you’re already a client, we’ll happily add it on for you to use.

New risks, new innovation
One of the trends we’re seeing across Europe (you’ll hear more about it at the Forward50 launch on Tuesday!) is innovation spun up in response to new or evolving risks. In fact, I’ll be talking about just this with Amélie on the Wednesday also.

A few worth sharing this week.

Breach, an insurer for the digital asset marketplace, has been approved by the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA) to launch a new class IIGB insurer.

Breach was created with a mission to make cryptocurrency safer by creating net new insurance capacity and innovative insurance products. The new carrier will allow Breach to underwrite emerging crypto risks as a primary insurer, whilst developing bespoke embedded products tailor-made for crypto native technologies.

On the climate side Arbol has launched an interesting new blockchain-powered parametric reinsurance solution, dRe.

This better manages storm catastrophe transactions. The smart contract system enables efficient and clear calculations for parametric loss through validated weather data from dClimate, with triggers based on wind speed and location.

This will result in much faster payouts and can be adapted to accommodate further NatCat risks, such as rain, temperature or wind. Nice.

Keeping with climate, Reask has raised a further $6.55m. These guys provide hi-res weather risk analytics and forecasting for extreme weather events globally.

And a section on evolving risks wouldn’t be complete without talking Cyber.

Our friends at Coalition have launched the Exploit Scoring System – a vulnerability scoring better helps understand and prioritise potential cyber threats.

It uses AI and large language modelling to check new common vulnerabilities and exposure reports, compares them to historic reports, and predict the possibility of exploitation.

Truck, lorries and not many humans
Right, let’s talk mobility. Well, auto. Well, mostly self-driving trucks because that’s both seriously cool, scary and game changing.

Germany-based Fernride has raised $31m to help build autonomous truck operating systems for use in industrial yards.

Industrial yards definitely feels like a good training ground, right?

The Series A led by the CVC arm of German logistics giant HHLA will help the company put 20 autonomous vehicles in industrial yards across Europe and add between 50 and 80 people to its workforce which already stands at 120. Though it currently intends to expand across Europe, plans are afoot to move into the US.

And talking of the US, TuSimple, based out of San Diego, California, has completed a series of fully autonomous semi-truck runs on public roads in China without any driver present in the cab

Beyond the headline, two things I loved about this.

One is, I didn’t know what a semi-truck was (it’s basically the front of the lorry…as we say in England…which pulls a semi-trailer…the bit the freight is carried in). Who knew?

And the other, there’s a webpage titled ’10 things you didn’t know about semi-trucks’. Too good.

Back to TuSimple, this is the second time the company has performed this test. And earlier the company started testing in Japan.

As I say, it’s proper game changing stuff when this starts to get adopted.

Less truck and more car, UK-based claims insurtech Claim Technology has launched a new vehicle repair decisioning product.

Leveraging their self-serve, AI-powered damage assessment and marketplace capabilities, it provides insights and detailed estimates in under 24 hours. And this, in turn, could reduce the motor claims lifecycle by around 75%.

Money still kicking around for commercial insurance
A couple of successful fundraisers in the B2B space.

Insify, a startup seeking to make business more accessible to freelancers and small to medium enterprises, has secured a $10.7m Series A. The new money will be ploughed into improving the company’s existing insurance offering and sustaining its already rapid growth.

And business insurance distribution platform, Thinksurance, has raised $24m which it will use to expand its digital insurance consultations platform across Europe.

I like these guys. Their platform enables insurance distributors to fully digitalise consultations and policy processes, allowing them to provide tailor-made insurance solutions for their clients.

It reports that over 50k individual brokers and agents have consulted more than 1.5m customers with the company’s platform.

It’s a win for Lloyd’s Lab
Hot. Off. The. Press.

A big shout out to Rosie Denée and the talented Lloyd’s Lab team. I’ve just seen they scooped the Go:Tech Incubator or Accelerator of the Year award.

Congrats dream team.

Whilst talking Lloyd’s great to see they’ve partnered up with Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism to form an ‘insurtech enablement platform’.

The collaboration will enable companies in Dubai to better create insurtech solutions and products across a wide range of sectors. Equally it will also provide Lloyd’s Lab cohort members access to support when expanding into Dubai.

Win. Win.

A few other shout outs from around the world
It’s got to that time in the day when SøNws starts unravelling as I need to show my face in some meetings!

Before I go, congratulations to bolttech which has partnered with telecom company Taiwan Mobile.

They can now offer travel insurance to the latter’s 7m customers via the Taiwan Mobile app in less than three minutes. Not bad huh? The pair have also revealed that they are planning to launch even more products – such as auto, personal injury and cyber insurance – in the future.

And finally, an interesting ecosystem map pulled together by Dikla Wagner, Head of Scouting – Israel, for Munich Re.

Whilst funding is significantly down across Israeli insurtechs, it’s not unique to the area. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the most exciting hubs for innovation.

If you do have an itch to get out there, there’s no better time than for the Insuretech Israel Summit 2023.

It’s being hosted by FinTLV and InsurTech Israel and will undoubtedly be a top notch affair.

Right, that’s me. Done.

Good to be back in the fold. I’ve missed it. Who’d have thought?!

Have good weekends and hopefully see some of you in the Spanish sun next week.


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