Banking steps into insurance and a Brazil Spøtlight Special

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Happy Friday all.

Let’s kick off your favourite insurance read by talking…banking. It’s all relevant I promise.

Blurring the banking x insurance divide

In Europe we have Revolut hiring for a Chief Insurance Officer and CaixaBank partnering with bsurance to design and test new embedded life insurance products in the Spanish market.

[On a side note CaixaBank is currently working with eight startups (picked from a wider pool of 200) as part of its open innovation program, testing new offerings across its business. Love it and if you’d like to explore how to do something similar, drop me a line. This is bread and butter stuff for Sønr.]

Hot off the press this morning, ZA International has raised what is, I believe, the largest Series A for any insurtech to date – a pretty incredible $230m. In part this is down to the fact they’re not a pure Insurtech, rather a new breed that traverses the world of banking, insurance and investment.

If you ever get a few minutes to deep dive into ZhongAn / ZA Tech / ZA International I’d thoroughly recommend it. From how they make use of AI, blockchain and Cloud through to the innovation they offer at a customer level from health to finance.

BigTech making their mark on insurance

Who doesn’t love a bit of BigTech clickbait?

We never talk Russia so let’s change that. Yandex, the Google of Russia (kinda), is launching behaviour-based rewards for auto insurance via the app YandexDrive.

Partnering with Renaissance Insurance for the pilot, the two companies will provide up to a 35% discount for the safest of drivers, based on sudden acceleration or braking, and speeding. The company aims to improve attitudes on the road – 45 Russians died every day in 2019 and 2020 from road incidents.

In India and Amazon backed Acko (which also provisions Amazon’s car insurance offering through Amazon Pay) is now officially a Unicorn with a new round of $255m in funding.

Acko is attempting to take on the country’s antiquated insurance industry with digital-first products. It develops and sells bite-sized auto insurance, healthcare protections to employers, as well as protection on gadgets.

I can only imagine driving in India is becoming even more crazy with all the unicorns running around – we’re tracking 35+ new Indian unicorns just this year. Such a brilliantly exciting market out there.

Lemons and Carrots

I’m sure no one working in auto will have missed the fanfare around this one.

Lemonade Car has officially gone live…in Illinois.

I haven’t gone to town reading everyone’s thoughts and opinions on this one just yet. At first glance it looks like a pretty standard telematics play via its mobile app and offers roadside and emergency crash assistance.

What is interesting, if you cast your mind back just 4 months, they sent an email to a whole load of customers asking what is and isn’t important to them:

As part of the car insurance offering they’re also pledging to plant trees to ‘help shrink your car’s carbon footprint’ and give their renters/pet/term life customers a bundle discount.

So, what’s the takeaway? In part it’s that the environmental message is growing in importance to consumers and cost is still key.

And in the UK Trak Global’s Carrot Insurance has been sold to Granite Underwriting.

Founded in 2012, Carrot were early to telematics, rewarding those who display better driving habits with products – targeting new drivers (using a black box) and those who want to better their road behaviour (using a mobile app or a device).

Day 1 of Insurtech in Brazil

First and foremost, if you’re looking to know more about the Brazilian market, there’s one man to reach out to – Samy Hazan. After a career in big corporate insurance, he set up Insurtech Brazil a few years back and is possibly the nicest and most enthusiastic man in Insurtech globally. True story.

For anyone who has been reading SøNws over the years, I’m ever obsessing about the emergent markets. There’s so much opportunity to shape and accelerate change, and so many exciting emergent Insurtechs.

This week I had the opportunity to catch up with Samy and also with two exceptional entrepreneurs – Mauro Levi D’Ancona of 180° and Igor Mascarenhas of Pier.

A quick introduction to both their businesses:

Pier – founded in 2018, they have taken the full-stack route and are redesigning the entire value chain. And they’re properly smashing it. An example of their offering is that they pay 25% of claims instantly – money landing in customers’ bank accounts within 10 seconds.

180° Seguros – founded in 2020 it has a B2B2C model where they enable distributors to provide insurance and incumbents to connect to new distribution channels. And, as we’re seeing globally, this embedded play also has huge opportunity in the under-penetrated Brazilian market.

Have a watch/listen, it’s a super interesting deep-dive into what’s going on in the Brazilian market, the fact that things are just getting started over there and what we can expect in the next few years:

In fact, whilst on the topic of Brazil, it’s worth noting that just five months after closing its Seed round, Justos has raised a $35.8m Series A. Not bad considering they haven’t yet officially launched their auto insurance product yet.

So far it has launched a driving behaviour test and quoting app, though has a waitlist of 12,000 ready for its official launch. It aims to use customer driving behaviour data to provide policies up to 30% cheaper than traditional offerings.

The benefit of life insurance

A few interesting ones across life and health this week.

In the life space the investment and US savings app UNest is now offering a zero-cost life insurance product as part of its benefits package. It’s doing this through a partnership with Avibra.

For Avibra it’s a distribution play as UNest can then buy into other benefits – critical illness, accident medical insurance and telemedicine.

It’s an interesting one though, right? It doesn’t take too much for customers to recognise they’re able to access all this value for free/cheap through comparable platforms to ones they may already be using.

Keeping with US and a couple of investments:

Early-stage Plum Life has closed a $2.45m seed round to continue to grow its operations and increase the number of advisors it does business with. Plum was launched in 2020 with the mission to create the ‘ideal life insurance experience’. Will be interesting to see what that looks like.

And on the health front, portable employee benefits company Stride Health has raised a $47m Series C, bringing its total funding to $96m. Their membership is currently tracking at 2.7m individuals (it has partnerships with more than 120 companies) while health insurance enrolments increased 3.5x over 2020.

New kids on the block

A couple of super early-stage funding rounds worth sharing.

The first, which has just raised a pre-Series A. Their business is looking to bridge the doctor-patient ratio in India which stands at a staggeringly low 1:1,445.

How they’re proposing doing this is through a multi-lingual, voice-based product that can evaluate over 950 health symptoms and 300+ diseases, providing a report, next steps, and where to find local help. Amazing and so valuable. The company currently has more than 15,000 Android users.

In Europe, Vitaance which launched in Barcelona earlier this year, is another on a mission to democratise access to healthier living. Their focus is on the life insurance space. They’ve just landed a $3.4m round.

No stopping the growth of no code

Hong Kong’s CoverGo seems to be going from strength to strength. Just last month the no-code platform announced it was expanding into the US, Canada and LATAM. This was off the back of a 400% uplift in subscription revenue in 2021.

This week it has announced both a partnership with Fubon Life Hong Kong and that their platform is powering MSIG Hong Kong’s launch of MediGo, a new health insurance system.

And in the US, no-code enterprise application platform Unqork has partnered with cloud-native core system Socotra to help insurers accelerate transformation and create new digital experiences.

Working in parallel, the two companies will provide end-to-end core functionality, from rating to claims, whilst Socotra enables customers to create software quicker and cheaper.

Making small business insurance easy

As always, there’s seemingly a tonne of stuff going on in the business insurance space.

Two that stood out are both investments.

The first for Coterie Insurance, the insurtech company ‘making small business insurance easy’, which landed a $50m Series B.

Coterie was launched in 2018 and its digital platform delivers insurance solutions to SMEs, contractors and gig workers.

What’s particularly interesting about this is the compressed time between its previous round which was only a few months back. The latest money is set to ‘skyrocket’ Coterie’s growth and build out.

The second is the insurance platform Clyde, which has successfully raised $25m.

Clyde was launched in 2017 and enables retailers and other small businesses to offer extended warranties and accident protection to their customers. It already partners with over 300 brands in a range of different categories including consumer and household electronics, scooters and e-bikes.

Embedded picking up pace globally

This one I like a lot.

NEXT Insurance has launched NEXT Connect which is an embedded insurance solution for their partners’ platforms. Smart play.

Another is UK-based credit risk solution provider Nimbla which has raised £5.1m in Seed funding this week, with Barclays Bank getting onboard as an investor.

The company will use the funds to scale to meet demand – invoice numbers tripled during the pandemic, and Nimbla has now processed over 67m invoices worth £2.5bn.

A random collection of European activity

One of the things I pride myself on when writing SøNws, is linking stories in some form of flowing narrative. Well, that stops here this week.

The only link to all these is Europe. And that’s what we’re going with.

Starting super locally with UK-based FloodFlash.

These guys specialise in parametric flood insurance and have expanded their partnership with Munich Re enabling the startup to look towards international expansion – with its eye on the US, Germany and Australia, where there are notable protection gaps in the sector.

Keeping it niche and Aquiline Capital Partners have acquired a majority stake in specialist insurtech Ripe Thinking. If you don’t already know Ripe they currently have more than 280k policyholders, with offerings including boats, caravans, golf and SMBs.

In the London markets and specialist MGA CFC Underwriting has received a major investment from two of Europe’s leading private equity firms, EQT and Vetruvian Partners.

CFC was founded in 1999 and it is one of the pioneers in the UK cyber insurance market. Currently CFC writes 50 products, and it also launched its own Lloyd’s syndicate earlier this year. The company saw some impressive growth with organic EBITDA CAGR of 35% over last 5 years.

Another London Market MGA, Vessel Protect, has launched the ability to quote and bind Kidnap & Ransom (Piracy) risks in 2 minutes. It’s been able to do this by using Go-Insur, the digital insurance platform from Pancentric Digital.

Moving to mainland Europe and German digital insurance company Getsafe has received an insurance license from BaFin, Germany’s financial regulator.

The license will allow the company to expand to the rest of Europe. Super interesting.

Getsafe was launched in 2017 as an MGA and it is currently serving 250k customers. The company has an ambition to become Europe’s largest digital insurer and it already launched in the UK.

A couple of weeks ago, the company announced an extension of its Series B which takes its to-date funding to $115m.

Finally, whilst not officially Europe but close enough for today, Tel Aviv’s Piiano has raised $9m to help businesses protect their personally identifiable information (PII…now do you get their name a little more?).

The startup was only launched in 2021 and it provides tools to pseudonymize data, and on the other hand it provides a safe place to store the original data in a vault where access is restricted.

I’ve a feeling we’ll see more innovation in this space.

Awards, sore heads and poor eyesight

It was a pleasure to be able to sponsor the Insurance Times Tech & Innovation Awards for the third year running this year.

It’s so rewarding to see how the UK is embracing innovation (for the most part!) and how each year the market changes so visibly. A big congratulations to all the finalists and of course the winners.

A special shout to the Investor/Corporate of the Year which went to Vitality with Insurtech Gateway gaining a highly commended.

Luckily an 8am webinar appearance the next morning kept things reasonably tidy from my side albeit two days on and there’s definitely still a thick head. The covid testing remains negative which sadly points to the fact it’s just old age.

Before signing off, two things that are worth a read:

  1. Why Many VCs Are Now Heading Back Through The Revolving Door To Become Founders
  2. MeWork (warning it’s a long one but possibly the best thing I have read in a very long time)

Right, that is me. Done.

As always drop me a line if you’d like to connect or take a free trial of Sønr to better understand how your market is changing.

A big weekend ahead of getting our 3-year old on the dry ski slope.

Let’s hope it doesn’t scar him for life. Literally and figuratively.


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