Amazon vs Google – the rise of BigTech Insurance

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Hello all.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve found myself geeking out on a whole load of industry reports. Thought I’d kick off with a couple of super interesting stats.

Customers willingness to purchase insurance from big tech firms:

  • 2016 – 17%
  • 2018 – 30%
  • 2020 – 36%

(Source Capgemini)

And in a 2019 Italian study (by Bain), 92% of 18-34 years old were open to buying insurance from new entrants, including non-insurance companies. When asked to rank them, their choices were:

  1. Current insurer
  2. Amazon
  3. Google
  4. Insurers (in general)

 The reason I mention this is big tech has been busy over the last couple of weeks. Again.

Amazon vs Google
Having acquired PillPack back in 2018, the news this week is Amazon is set to launch an online Amazon Pharmacy service in India. It will offer over-the-counter and prescription-based drugs, traditional herbal medicines, and basic health devices.

Whilst undoubtedly the Indian market has huge potential for growth, it also provides a great learning opportunity for Amazon before scaling more widely.

And on the back of last month’s news of launching auto insurance through Amazon Pay, their AWS team has expanded its collaboration with Toyota. Interestingly the agreement includes both cloud tech and professional services.

Toyota states the data could provide “new contextual services such as car-share, ride-share, full-service lease, and new corporate and consumer services such as proactive vehicle maintenance notifications and driving behaviour-based insurance.”

Amazon vs Google

And no SøNws would be complete without a little Google chat.

One that’s been getting a fair amount of coverage, and rightly so, is Alphabet’s Verily, which has partnered with Swiss Re to launch a new health insurance venture – the Coefficient Insurance Company.

The new Verily subsidiary will help self-funded employers by providing stop-loss insurance, and will leverage Verily’s tech and data science, and Swiss Re Corporate’s distribution model. Nice.

Amwell also had a big week.

The telehealth company has filed the preliminary paperwork for an IPO, and has also announced a multi-year partnership with Google. The partnership will see the two collaborate on tech, and Amwell will move its video traffic to Google Cloud by January 2021. Oh, and Google is buying $100m of its stock.

From China to Brazil, the money keeps coming

Let’s keep with health for a minute longer and China’s Waterdrop Inc has raised $230m in a new round led by Swiss Re and Tencent Holdings. Waterdrop is an insurance platform that is based around crowdfunding and mutual aid that pays out when members fall into medical dire straits.

Looking a little deeper into this and as is often the case with Chinese insurtech, its numbers are off the scale with 120m unique insurance enrollees, a 2020 forecasted total written premium of $2bn, and a total earned premium of $865m.

Amazon vs Google

Amazon vs Google – What was most interesting was discovering a beta version of an international site they launched in 2019, called DeeDa. I’ll do some more digging on this as I’d be keen to learn more about their global ambitions. Could a crowdfunded health insurance model play out in the West?

A few other health investments. Mental health startup Lyra Health has raised a $110m Series D.  They’ll be spending the cash on further growth – building out its teletherapy service and expanding its service offering.

Telehealth startup Thirty Madison has raised a $47m Series B to expand its chronic disease management platform. And diabetes and chronic disease management startup Cecelia Health has closed a $13m round.

Montreal’s Breathe Life, an end-to-end operation platform for life and health insurance carriers, has raised a CAD$11.5m Series A.

Another Canadian Insurtech raising money this week was the digital commercial insurance platform, Zensurance which announced a Series B. They plan to use the funds to fuel growth – expanding the Zensurance team and growing their customer base to a targeted 150,000 SMEs.

Amazon vs Google

And a couple of German raises that caught my eye on Amazon vs Google.

ELEMENT, whose ‘insurance-as-a-platform’ enables partners in various industries to develop purpose-built insurance products, has announced a further raise, bringing it’s Series A total to €39m.

And Claimsforce, a SaaS based claims management platform, has raised €7m in Series A funding. The company plans to use the funds to further develop its cloud-based claims management platform and explore new geographies.

Finally, Brazilian’s CyberLabs is an interesting one to keep an eye. This week it raised $5m to shift out of R&D for a whole range of products. One of them is KeyApp which allows people to enter or leave premises via facial recognition +/or QR codes and which is extending to include thermal tech to help fight C19.

It’s better together
Amazon vs Google – In the week where I’ve just bought my first airline ticket for months and have finally sorted my will (not related…I hope), two announcements caught my eye.

Virgin Atlantic has partnered with Allianz to try and boost its customers’ confidence in traveling during the pandemic. It’s offering free Covid-19 Coverage, ensuring that anyone who becomes ill with the virus on a trip has any related costs covered, up to £500k per customer. It also offers expenses cover if a customer is denied boarding, or has to quarantine during a trip.

And Aon New Zealand has partnered with digital will service Footprint to offer free wills and a digital vault service to both its existing and new group life insurance clients from September 1st. I like this one.

Other non-insurance but kinda insurance news
Actually, let’s start with the blatant insurance play. This time from fintech Revolut.

Our tech picked up a job ad just a few days back and it looks like they’re hiring a VP of Insurance ‘responsible for developing the strategic roadmap, recruitment, product launch(es) as well as gaining licenses for General Insurance and Life Insurance across the UK, EU and US over the next few years’.

Revolut recently raised a further $80m as part of its Series D (it previously raised $500m at a $5.5bn valuation). It has 12m registered users and already offers travel insurance and device cover – I’m looking forward to seeing what they get up to next.

Whilst we’re on fintech, Berlin’s N26 – which withdrew from the UK in February – has reported 500k US customers in 12 months since launching out there. Not a bad start for those guys and a big market to enjoy if they can get it right.

Another I found particularly interesting, having just completed a load of research into the credit scoring space for a client, is auto insurtech Root’s pledge to stop using credit scoring as part of its car insurance pricing model by 2025.

“Relying on credit scores disproportionately harms historically under-resourced communities, immigrants and those struggling to pay large medical expenses, reinforcing the problem of inherent bias facing our society. Driving behaviour, measured through telematics, can and will be even more predictive and far more fair than credit score when it comes to insurance rates.”

Amazon vs Google

Finally, a couple of health-related pieces.

Speaking at an MIT Summit, PingAn’s Co-CEO Jessica Tan offered some interesting insight into how technology has advanced PingAn’s healthcare during Covid-19.

And Jordan’s Altibbi has announced it is to provide free telehealth consultations for Beirut residents “to support the overstretched healthcare system in Lebanon.” This comes following the devastating explosions that recently took place in the capital.

From tech to insurance. From insurance to tech.

This week we have two Spøtlight interviews to share.

The first is from a recent catch up with Karen O’Leonard who heads up innovation at Willis Towers Watson. I’ve known Karen for a couple of years, and it was great to hear her journey from Apple and Sun Microsystems to joining one of the largest insurance brokers in the world.

It’s a fascinating read, talking through how innovation is set up at WTW, the importance of culture on innovation and her advice for any company setting up an innovation function.

The second is an interview with Laurens Koppelaar, CEO of Symbo Singapore who, after 10 years in insurers and brokers, stepped out of the corporate world to explore Insurtech.

If you’re not familiar with Symbo, they’re a pan-Asian digital insurance platform that helps insurers and brokers to generate revenue by launching digital distribution channels quickly. Symbo has partnered with 30+ insurance companies deploying digital insurance solutions across Asia.


Before signing off a thanks to all the folk who I’ve caught up with over the last couple of weeks – clients and non-clients. It’s been great learning more about your businesses and working with the Sønr team to translate your challenges into new product features.

I’m always keen to keep connecting so if you do read this and we haven’t spoken, do get in touch.

And if you’re new to SøNws and have no idea what this Sønr platform is all about, below are a few of the key business outcomes we’ve built it for:

Sønr is the world’s most comprehensive source of insurance innovation data, coupled with some pretty handy workflow and collaboration tools. Check it out with a 14-day free trial.

Have good weekends all. Keep happy and healthy and catch you in September.


Amazon vs Google

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