Amazon, GenAI and U2 in Vegas

View this email in your browser


No, I didn’t see U2 at the Sphere.
Nor did I sit next to Ed Sheeran on the flight over (Sabine 🤷).

But I did get to ITC. And, as always, it was exceptional.

Key takeaways (but not your usual kind):

  • Company off-sites – more and more of our clients are using events as a way for their teams to come together from around the world. If most will be heading to the event anyway, why wouldn’t you?Take this one step further and Tokio Marine held, for the second year running, their Tokio Marine Day. An incredibly engaging, 500+ person session, where business leaders from across the group pitched their innovation requirements and hugely innovative startups (scouted by Sønr no less) presented their wares.

    • Perhaps a standard for others to replicate next year?


  • Advanced scouting – from about 8-weeks pre-event, we were inundated from clients wanting us to help match the startups attending to their business needs. And in some cases, make the introductions to the founders so meetings can be locked in early.Time is precious and the numbers attending are vast. It all makes sense, especially when some of these companies are sending 60+ folk.
  • The future is bright – with a packed house (and remember, those Vegas rooms are BIG) we launched the InsureTech Connect Forward50 Americas – a ranked list of the most innovative and exciting early-stage startups.

  • If you want to know what’s coming down the road in the next 3-5 years, these companies are your window in – download the report.At the other end of the maturity curve, I also ran a session on IPO’ing (that’s a verb right?) with Skyward Specialty and KBW. Skyward went public in January and has nearly doubled in value already. That’s right, it is possible to go public and not crash.

    Seemingly the secret is…to make more money than you spend and use technology to help you do that. The conversation might have been a little more nuanced than that but hey 🤷

    And yet when you take a look at Metromile, Root, Hippo, Lemonade, it’s possibly no wonder Adrian Jones, in the preceding session, was showing this slide whilst we were getting mic’d up at the back of the room:

  • Like Adrian, my view is insurtech is far from failed.
    If anything, it’s just getting started.

Before I get into any industry news I want to say a big thanks and congratulations to Liz, Nicole, Bill, Rocio all the ITC crew who make this event happen. Bringing together the ecosystem in the way you do is incredibly important and incredibly valuable. Thank you 🙏

Right, there’s some good stuff this week. Let’s get into it.

Embedded – a trend that was so last year.
And seemingly this year.
And, well, a massive game changer that’s here to stay.

I know, what you’d like me to tell you is a bunch of GenAI use cases across insurance. Well, keep reading. I’ll get to that.

For now, embedded.

To kick things off I’ll keep close to home with Root that has teamed up with UK’s Connect – a business launched by our client Admiral Pioneer.

Connect is an API-first embedded insurance platform, developed to make it easy for businesses to incorporate insurance solutions into their offerings.

Staying with Europe and bolttech has teamed up with NJJ Telecom Group, to provide device protection for its European mobile operators Salt and Monaco Telecom. Salt has over 1.5m customers, whilst Monaco Telecom has over 800k registered users. Nice.

On that note, if you’re heading to Singapore FinTech Festival, make sure you check out Rob Schimek’s session on ‘From Ironman to founder: Forging resilience in both worlds’.

As a former long-distance triathlete (and when I say former, I’m talking a long time ago) I see so much connection between endurance sport and entrepreneurship. I’m sorry to be missing this one.

Finally, heading to India where there’s an early-stage company I’ve been tracking for a while. And that’s Y Combinator-backed Bimaplan.

Their vision – to provide financial security to 150 million vulnerable households through contextual life and health insurance products. These guys have just secured a $3.5m Pre-Series A.

How they make this happen is through collaboration with rural and semi-urban focussed companies across India and integrating them as channel partners.

Now, one I should have written about last time is Assureful.

Whilst not embedded per se they have a brilliantly interesting proposition in the ecommerce space.

They collect sales data in real-time, direct from eCommerce marketplaces and across 28,000 product categories They then use this data to assess the level of risk facing your business. Smart right? Their rating engine then rates, prices, and bills this monthly so customers don’t over or underpay.

Anyway the reason I mention them is they’ve just landed a £1.5m Pre-Seed.

Health, life and Amazon Prime

Ah, the beautiful link from embedded to ecommerce to Amazon.

See what I did there? No? My curation skills are wasted.

I’m assuming most have caught this one by now. The ever-bubbling question of whether Amazon will or will not enter insurance, is, well, still not answered.

What they have done though is continuously added exclusive offerings to its Prime membership. The most recent – access to primary care services through its One Medical platform for $9 per month.

Customers can now access to 24/7 virtual care, expedited care, and same or next day remote or in-person appointments at One Medical primary care offices.

Another nice bit of innovation on the health side this week was Syrona Health launching a voice-based AI tool for mental health assessments. I’ve no doubt we’ll be seeing more of this kind of stuff.

Syrona’s tool can be incorporated within employee benefits schemes and will evaluate non-clinical markers often overlooked, such as stress, exhaustion and a bunch of other symptoms I was feeling whilst out in Vegas.

Before leaving the world of health, here’s a dacadoo/Fidelity webinar coming up which I reckon will be worth tuning in to:

Finally, moving over to life and great to see Dai-ichi Life piloting the YuLife Wellbeing Model in Japan.

This is the first collaboration since they invested in July 2022, and it’ll be good to see how they get on.

As many of you know, since we started working with Tokio Marine a few years back, and more recently Mitsui Sumitomo, I’m become somewhat fascinated by the opportunities that exist for global innovators within the Japanese market.

In fact, one event I’m determined to get to early next year is ITC Japan. It happens to also fall during ski season. What are the chances?!

Small business insurance and vacation rentals

A couple of interesting reads in the world of small business insurance.

Allianz X and Allstate have put a chunk of money into NEXT Insurance bringing the strategic round to $265m.

And somewhat earlier stage, Layr has raised $10m.

Layr helps insurance brokers modernise their tech and provide better and more profitable policies.

On the vacation rental side Superhog has raised £6.7m in Series A funding.

These guys provide hosts, operators and guests a toolkit that includes biometric recognition, ID verification, screening technology, automated deposit and damage waiver collection, and an insurance-backed guarantee for property damage caused by guests. Nice.

On the traction front, they’ve now processed over 500k stays and have £5m ARR.

GenAI in your car. Well, around your car. Once it’s crashed.

Shift Technology has announced it has integrated GenAI across all of its products.

The new AI capabilities will provide insights and context to the detection and investigation of risk, optimising the speed and accuracy of the claims process. I like it.

Actually, keeping with GenAI (I kind of promised a little more on this earlier), a super interesting German startup and one to look into is – Aleph Alpha.

These guys build large language models similar to OpenAI’s GPT-4 but ones designed for enterprises rather than consumers. I’m not sure they have any insurance clients yet but it won’t be long.

Finally, back to cars, and pay-per-mile auto insurtech Flitter has raised €3.5m.

There’s not too much to say on these guys. They launched 18 months back and have attracted 30,000 customers to date. The biggest difference from the others with very similar sounding propositions is they’ve done this whilst making a profit. I know, what a world we live in.

Cyber still bringing in the dollars

The money is still coming into cyber.

Cowbell has raised $25m after 49% YoY growth. The company also reported a 2.5x surge in premiums in 2022, and a 43% ultimate loss ratio.

And Upfort, the cyber security and insurance platform, has raised an $8m Series A.

Upfort’s tech simplifies the way brokers and insurers sell insurance and shield their clients from cyber threats.

Then, there’s the Corvus news. More on that below.

The good, the bad and the ugly
Let’s start with the ugly.

And it’s Adam Neuman, the guy who has been unapologetic for his role in, well, pretty much anything to do with WeWork for years now.

From their failed IPO to licencing the ‘We’ trademarks back to the business after he purchased them through his holding company.

Bah, don’t get me started. Anyway, apparently this week has been ‘challenging’ for him to watch WeWork go bankrupt:

What. A. Guy.

Now for some bad.

Personal lines insurtech Hippo has laid off 20% of its workforce, or approximately 120 employees, effective November 1, 2023. Bear in mind they let go of 70 employees in September. Tough times.

And it appears, unsurprisingly, Vesttoo is now seeking a ‘quick, private’ asset sale.

But let’s end with positivity.

Lemonade is going to make a cash flow profit in 2025. Apparently. That’s nice.

Some genuine good news is Phoebe Chibuzo Hugh, the former founder of Brolly, has left Direct Line Group to join Monzo as Director and Head of Insurance. I think that’s a great move by Monzo and we wish her all the best over there.

And finally, Travelers is set to acquire Corvus for approximately $435 million. This is a very smart move. True story.

Right, that is me.

I have a weekend of swimming, rugby, fireworks and cinema ahead. All with a 5-year old in tow.

The perfect antidote to a crazy week in Vegas.

Have good weekends all.


SøNws is brought to you by Sønr.

Sønr is the leading startup scouting and innovation management created specifically for the insurance sector. It helps (re)insurers around the world source and connect with best-in-class investment, acquisition and partnership opportunities.

Try out a 14-day trial of Sønr to access intelligence on market trends, competitor playbooks and disruptive tech companies globally. Plus collaboration tools to help you track and manage innovation activity across your organisation.




Copyright © 2023 Sønr Global. All rights reserved.

If you enjoyed this email, please forward to a friend and suggest they subscribe. If you didn’t, feel free to unsubscribe from this list or let me know what you’d rather read about.


Subscribe to SøNws

Join 10,000s of others and keep ahead of insurance innovation news and activity from around the world: