Carbon, guns and successful innovation

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This is an exceptional piece of work:
Tech Trend Radar 2024

Congrats to the Munich Re and ERGO teams for pulling this one together.

Designed to ‘sharpen awareness, provoke discussion and initiate new business opportunities’ it’s got it all covered. And it goes wide and deep.

The interactive radar is smart but the report itself is well worth some time.

As well as some rich insights on the trends, they also call out some top quality startups.

If this gets the grey matter ticking and you’d like to go deeper on scouting who else is innovating within a particular trend – whether with a startup or incumbent lens, please do give the Sønr team a shout. We’re always happy to help.

Right, some news.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks.

The growing importance of behavioural change

In my previous life, pre Sønr, I spent a lot of time working on behavioural change programmes. It’s a space that really interests me, especially as we move further towards risk prevention and customer relationships beyond conventional insurance.

A company that stood out this week is Pelago, formerly Quit Genius.

These guys are a digital clinic for substance use management and they’ve secured a $58m Series C. If you’re not familiar with them, they offer personalised virtual substance use care for adults and adolescents, including treatment for alcohol, tobacco, and opioid use.

They’ve presented some great numbers and I’d be keen to see the longer-term data too. I’ll try and make some time to dig in further for next time.

Somewhat related, and keeping with funding, Axis Insurance has made a strategic investment of CA$1.1m in BeniPlus, a Canadian employee benefits platform.

It’s early days for these guys but a nice execution to date. The new money is set to expand market share and keep innovating. Sounds like a good plan.

Benjamin Franklin and relatable life insurance

Talking of nice execution I caught up with Tim von Dadelszen – entrepreneur turned corporate innovator in the week.

He heads up Digital Innovation for Partners Life in New Zealand, part of the Dai-Ichi family.

He walked me through a tool they’ve created called Evince – used by advisors alongside their clients, it’s a visual and interactive platform designed to better help articulate and understand insurance needs. There’s a tonne of smart data and logic fed in behind the scenes and the experience is seriously engaging.

Nice work team. And Tim.

If you’re in this space, do check it out.

As good old Benji F said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

From NZ to the US and Voya Financial has joined forces with Empathy to introduce on-demand bereavement support in the workplace.

This partnership enables employees and beneficiaries to access Empathy’s Funeral Planning resources, Will Planning services, and Bereavement Support. Nice.

Digital health – from machine learning to text messages

Keeping with the US it was good to see Brightside Health close a $33m Series C.

Brightside provides care for people suffering from anxiety, mild to severe clinical depression and other mood disorders through an ML-powered, personalised, psychiatry platform.

Somewhat less sophisticated, but equally critical, is the partnership between FOLX Health, a digital healthcare provider focused on the LGBTQIA+ community, and Crisis Text Line, a global not-for-profit providing free and confidential text-based mental health support.

The collaboration will offer 24/7 free text-based mental health support to its members who can now access live volunteer crisis counsellors by texting 741741, ensuring immediate access to trained mental health professionals.

Right, enough health chat. Let’s go a little wider.

Embedded with Qoala, Qover and bolttech

One investment. Two partnerships.
Whilst the world doubles down on GenAI, embedded continues to change the insurance landscape.

Let’s start with Qoala.

Founded in 2018, Qoala, with the purpose to ‘democratise, empower and redefine insurance for customers’, the Indonesian startup is doing alright. With over 5 million customers it has also just landed a $47m Series C.

The plan is to explore strategic M&A and partnerships, and ‘sprinkle’ AI across its channels!

Keeping with embedded and what SøNws would be complete without mentioning bolttech.

Good to see these guys have strengthened their footprint (can you strengthen a footprint?!) in the Japanese market through a strategic partnership with Back Market.

This collaboration launches in Japan and will provide embedded device protection to Back Market’s customers – protection plans including data recovery and dedicated repair for an improved user experience.

Stepping back to Europe and Belgium’s Qover has partnered with UK based credit card fintech Yonder.

Yonder’s members will receive cover for travel and accommodation expenses when using their Yonder card. It includes benefits like delayed departures, family cover, winter sports, lost baggage, and personal liability, underwritten by Lloyd’s of London.

PZU – 6,000 startups analysed > 70 pilots > 40+ implementations

If you don’t know these guys, you probably should.

PZU Group is one of the largest financial institutions in Central and Eastern Europe, serving 22 million insurance, banking, investment and medical care customers in Poland alone.

Back in 2017, they set up an internal unit to test innovative solutions from around the world and feed them into the Group businesses. For me, they’re a great example of just how valuable Open Innovation can be for large incumbents. If done in the right way.

Oh, and they also happen to be a Sønr client.
But genuinely, that’s not the reason for the mention 😉

The reason for the mention is twofold:

  1. This morning I caught a great interview (I’m basing this of translating the transcript as opposed to any language skills tuning into the Polish conversation!) with Marcin Kurczab, PZU’s Innovation Lab Director. Well worth a listen/read.
  2. They’ve just deepened their 3-year partnership with Akur8 tapping into their Demand module (see below)

Enough client love.

Insure your carbon

With ESG still top of the agenda for many, it’s good to see updates from both Oka and Kita. Two carbon insurance business I have a lot of time for.

This week Oka closed a $10m raise to support its capital requirements and growth.

If you’re not already familiar with them, Oka provides carbon credit insurance to de-risk climate investments for carbon credit sellers and buyers.

From investment to a new product and Kita has broadened its Carbon Purchase Protection Cover to include Enhanced Rock Weathering (ERW) projects.

I appreciate this is getting a little niche but ERW is recognised as a highly scalable Carbon Dioxide Removal technique with the potential for billions of tonnes of annual carbon removal. Which is a good thing.
And this insurance shields buyers and investors of forward-purchased ERW carbon credits, promoting early investment by reducing the risk of project underperformance and potential carbon credit shortfall. Which is also a very good thing.

Mansplaining over. You’re welcome.

Actually, whilst chatting carbon, one more.

CFC has launched a new carbon delivery insurance policy – marking its entrance into the carbon insurance market.

It covers both the physical and political risks when purchasing voluntary carbon credits, and will cover 100% of the investment for non-delivery. The company has developed its own underwriting model that rates the carbon project, not the policyholder, for the new product, enabling CFC to offer same day quoting and binding for over 300 carbon projects.

Nice work George Beattie and team.

Politics, guns and Sønr US

The mention of political risks above reminded me of this one.

Last week Mosaic Insurance launched its Arbitration Award Default Insurance (AADI) product to the US market, offering a $65m global coverage limit.

The product is designed to compensate parties in cases of sovereign states breaching investment treaties or contractual obligations. Could there be a better time for something like this when the world is experiencing such geopolitical and economic turbulence?

Maybe not the most natural segue but I wanted to mention ZeroEyes for a second, too.

They are one of the 12 companies who will be joining the latest Lloyd’s Lab cohort (alongside CoverYourAI, OpenCover, SHINC, Astroteq AI, CatX, Maximum Information, Sixfold, Authentic Art, Latu Seguros, Pascal Metrics and SAMP Technology!).

Selected from 270 applicants from 33 countries ZeroEyes is an AI-based gun detection platform which over the next 10-weeks will collaborate with Lloyd’s, and its insurance network, to develop parametric insurance policies for gun-related violence.

The company’s technology integrates with existing security cameras and provides real-time actionable intelligence to law enforcement within seconds of detecting a threat.

And as you’d expect its solution has been adopted by various entities, including the US Department of Defense and public K-12 school districts.

I’m not sure what particularly interests me in these guys over, the others, but possibly a combination of having a school-age kid and the consideration of moving the family over to the US (where a good chunk of our customers are now based).

Data, Data and geospatial data

This is an interesting one.

Databricks has unveiled DBRX – which enables insurers to understand and use their unique data to build high-quality GenAI applications.

DBRX sets itself apart through its ability to generate synthetic data that closely mimics real-world datasets, enabling organisations to conduct comprehensive testing and analysis without compromising privacy or security.

If you want to drill down deeper (and properly geek out), there’s a tonne of interesting stuff in their blog post on it.

Keep with data and ZestyAI has introduced Roof Age, a solution that uses building permits and historical imagery to accurately determine roof age with over 90% accuracy and nearly 100% coverage across the US. Nice.

The aim, as you might guess, is to help insurance carriers prevent losses, improve premium capture, and optimise inspections.

And finally, Descartes Labs has acquired Geosite, a provider of geospatial intelligence for insurance companies as part of its plan to drive revenue growth and solidify its position in the geospatial analytics market.

Right, that’s me.

Before I shoot, a couple of plugs.

One of the insurtech OGs (yeah, I was as uncomfortable writing that as you reading it), Nick Pester is back.

With 20+ years of legal experience under his belt he was very much part of the early wave of insurtech influencers. I think I first met him at ITC Vegas when he was with Capital Law. He then jumped ship and joined as General Counsel at Zego, and most recently Wheely.

His new venture is Beyond Legal – a flexible, on demand, fractional ‘GC Services’ which avoids the commitment of a full time hire and the cost of an external law firm.

If you’re a UK company or looking to enter the UK market, give him a buzz.

Last plug.

We continue to sponsor the Camelot Innovation Hour.

If you’re work involves drones, wherever in the world you’re based, get your name down for the 26th April to hear Harvey Wade speak with Simon Ritterband, founder of Moonrock Drone. It should be a good one.

It’s time to indulge in some weekend goodness before a week in Milan with team Generali. A project I CANNOT WAIT to talk about.

Have a good weekend.


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