There’s a definite energy and momentum behind European Insurtech right now.
Great to see Tractable hit the $1bn valuation off the back of it $60m Series D.
They’ve seen a 600% sales uptick over the past 24 months – not bad considering most of our cars were sat on the driveway for a good chunk of that.
Also chapeau to France’s Akur8, the European insurtech that automates insurance pricing, closing their $30m Series B. Already operating in the US, their plan is to better establish themselves out there before turning to Asia Pacific in 2022. All good.
Okay, so maybe Abacai aren’t quite your usual ‘European insurtech’ but this shift of talent from incumbents into scaling startups is becoming very real.
Earlier this week I was on a panel with the very discerning Ruth Foxe Blader from Anthemis. She called out just the same and cited the importance for incumbents to take stock and put in place measures to retain exceptional talent.
Nothing like losing your key people to make innovation just that little bit tougher.
Let’s start with the world of mobility which has seen plenty of action over the past couple of weeks.
The rise and consolidation of telematics
This week the UK saw the launch of Vitality’s new direct-to-consumer car insurance proposition.
It’s a proposition we helped develop (alright, let’s not take too much credit – it was a very small part we played!) a couple of years back. But great to see it come to fruition.
In partnership with Covéa, VitalityCar is an extension of Vitality’s Shared Value insurance model, using incentives and rewards to promote positive behaviour change.
I reckon we’ll look back on this in a couple of years’ time and clock VitalityCar being a key catalyst in the mainstream adoption of telematics across the UK. Or at least that’s my prediction.
Staying with Europe and connected car platform Smartcar is now available across 29 countries in Europe.
With a US head office, Smartcar’s APIs offer a wide range of solutions, including enabling auto insurers to offer UBI insurance (it has partnerships with Just and Marshmallow, amongst others), car sharers to offer contactless rentals, and energy providers to automatically charge EVs at optimal times.
It’s an interesting business and I’m keen to see how this European play works for them.
One more that caught my eye is an evolution to Root’s onboarding experience – RootReady.
To date Root has required new customers to take a test drive to determine eligibility for its UBI program. Now that’s all changed. Well, kind of.
Owners of a General Motors car (with a 2015 model or more recent) can now use their car’s driving data to see whether they qualify for cover.
The app informs drivers with eligible vehicles that they can skip the test drive and asks if they want to proceed with RootReady. Simple stuff but it’s all about reducing the friction.
Finally, a couple of acquisitions that, if you’re working in this space, you’ll have certainly clocked already.
USAA has announced it intends to acquire Noblr, in order to offer usage-based insurance to its members.
The move follows on from the announcement earlier this year that SafePilot, USAA’s behaviour-based program, grew 200% in 2020. It sounds like USAA plans to roll out UBI over the next three years, beginning with the eight states where Noblr is already available.
Having raised a war chest of $500m 18 months ago, I imagine this might be the first of many CMT acquisitions we see around the world.
Autonomous shuttles, hoverboards and a bit of Greek island hopping
Aviva and Darwin Innovation Group have announced a 5-year strategic partnership, kicking off with an autonomous vehicle trial.
Darwin is currently trialling Navya’s autonomous shuttle, which is controlled by 5G and satellite connectivity. Aviva’s collaboration intends to develop a comprehensive insurance model for this type of vehicle.
A very sensible thing to be doing indeed.
More partnership activity and what SøNws would be complete without mentioning Wakam?
Continuing their focus on open innovation (50 new partnerships since the beginning of the year), this time they’ve paired up with L’olivier Assurance, of Admiral Group.
The partnership is set to launch insurance for New Individual Electric Vehicles (NVEI – electric scooters, hoverboards, gyro wheels etc). Consumers can get a quote within five minutes, and choose from 3 levels of protection, starting from €3.60 a month.
They’ve also partnered with European insurtech Setoo to launch a parametric ferry delay insurance, which has been directly embedded via API into LIKNOSS, the leading ferry reservation service.
The solution will initially be available in Greece, although it is set to expand across Europe.
According to a statement, the two firms have worked together for the past six months to develop two connected motor fleet insurance products, which are now available to self-drive hire, own goods, courier, and tradesperson fleets across the UK.
From cars to homes
Who would have thought there was so much going on in the mobility space?
Bringing things a little closer to traditional auto insurance world and UK insurtech Honcho has made its first major partnership with digital vehicle sales solution provider SilverBullet.
Car buyers using the SilverBullet-powered platform are now able to sort out their car insurance through Honcho’s value comparison marketplace.
In the US, Branch Insurance – a business I’m hearing more and more good things about – has raised $50m Series B funding.
Branch offers bundled home and auto insurance in as little as 30 seconds. Consumers simply need to provide their name and address. Sounds pretty good to me.
The startup has achieved a 435% growth in its partner channel, 660% growth in active policies, and a 734% increase in active premium less than one year after its $24m Series A.
Another car/home announcement that caught my eye was Israel’s weSure which is expanding to the US, having received its New Jersey license.
The company offers auto and property insurance, and plans to apply for other state licenses. weSure’s revenue in Q1 grew 113% YoY to $20m.
Using Z-Fire, their risk scoring model that leverages high-resolution imagery, building and weather data, and AI, the plan is to expand Farmers’ coverage for residences located in certain wildfire-risk areas.
And contents European insurtech Urban Jungle has raised €9m to scale operations after its customer base doubled to around 40,000 over the course of the pandemic.
The UK insurtech, which targets millennials and Gen Z, tailors its insurance to those who rent or are in shared housing.
And finally, what does golfer Rory McIlroy and the Founder of eBay have in common?
The European home insurtech has announced new funding (including from our friend Rory), bringing the total of its latest round of funding to $69.2m.
Life, pensions, and investments
Let’s start with Anorak, the world’s first fully automated life insurance advice platform.
David Vanek and team have raised £5m with the ambition to ‘become the most innovative life insurance technology company in Europe’.
The funding is set to accelerate Anorak’s expansion of its distribution and partners network. It already provides services to users from Starling Bank, Clearscore, Snoop and Canopy, and the European insurtech plans to work with more distributions and brands that don’t traditionally sell insurance products.
In the US, Haven Life is tapping into the younger crowd through a partnership with college savings app UNest. Offering term life insurance quotes they throw in a pretty ungenerous $5 reward into the savings account. I guess they know better than I do on what will motivate. Either way, a very smart move by Haven.
On the pension front, app-based workplace pension startup Collegia raises £500,000 pre-launch.
The plan is to provide an app-based Auto Enrolment pension that also offers the flexibility of a personal pension, meaning that it is transportable between employers and for periods of self-employment. Sounds like a very sensible and much needed play.
Early days but one to keep an eye on for sure.
A quick look into investments and Vitality has launched a new EnVIRO fund range.
This is a ready-made investment solution that integrates environmental, social and governance considerations (ESG), making it easier for advisers to offer their clients a way to invest in a more sustainable future.
And finally, yesterday I think, I caught the news that JP Morgan had bought robo-adviser Nutmeg.
In the press release it said Nutmeg will ‘complement’ the company’s new digital bank, which is planned to launch in the UK later this year under the JPMorgan Chase brand. Interesting times.
A tour of health innovation like no other
Let’s jump to what’s been going on in health.
First of all, a little market manipulation. Remember the headlines on AMC and GameStop stock early in 2021?
Well now the same story is hitting insurance and Clover Health, which is the latest target for Reddit forums who aim to punish short-sellers by driving up stock.
The so-called ‘meme stock’ has seen its share prices surge, which – if it holds – could see the European insurtech capitalise on it much like GameStop, which plans to sell up to $5m in shares to speed up its ecommerce innovation plans.
Keeping with the markets, less than a year after its $500m Series E round, Bright Health is joining Oscar and Clover Health with an IPO. In its SEC filing, it revealed over $1.2bn in revenue in 2020, across 99 markets and 14 states.
For my own sanity and a bit of interesting reading, let’s call out some stuff you probably won’t be picking up elsewhere.
With all the talk of wearables tracking vital signs, these guys are pitching the exact opposite.
They’re creating tech which is able to detect and measure a range of signals from up to 6ft away. Having just secured a $5m raise for their entirely contactless solution their mission is to make vital signs scanning and monitoring fast, efficient, easy, and ubiquitous.
A couple closer to home.
End-to-end reproductive healthcare startup Hertility Health has raised £4.2m in Seed funding, with investors including LocalGlobe and former Bupa CEO Evelyn Bourke. Hertility Health will use the new funds to expand its current products – including at-home fertility tests – and work on its clinical trials.
And niche cover European insurtech Peach Pi has partnered up with MGA Tapoly to offer bespoke insurance for freelancers and micro-SMEs operating in the health and wellbeing sector.
The specialist product is available on Tapoly’s platform.
Back to the US and super early stage mental health platform Nirvana Health has raised $4.2m to help consumers find therapists, and in turn, help therapists manage their workload.
Nirvana helps alleviate admin work by automating insurance paperwork for both in and out of network insurance, processing payments, and managing diaries. It currently works with hundreds of therapists across the US, automatically enabling over $1m in therapy session reimbursements for consumers.
In Russia, employee health benefits BestDoctor has raised a $26m Series B, valuing the company at $90m.
It will use the funds to create a health management platform that will centralise all of its products, and aim to offer preventive services for the B2C market.
And in Mexico, Zenda.la has reportedly raised $2m in funding to continue expanding its ‘freemium’ monthly health insurance plan.
The startup, which is backed by SwissRe, has designed an indemnity insurance so accessible that it covers the costs of the most basic underwriting plan. In the event of an accident or serious illness, consumers have access to money, and can choose where and how to spend it.
An interesting model for developing markets.
Cyber continues to build
A few interesting updates from the world of cyber.
UpGuard has raised a $19m Series B-1 round, with investors including IAG’s Firemark Ventures.
UpGuard is a cybersecurity platform that helps businesses assess and monitor the risk of their third-party vendors and protect against data leaks, with customers including Facebook, Amazon and Tesla.
Since its last round of funding in 2016, UpGuard has grown sales nearly 129% year over year, and has achieved 179% growth in customers in 2020 alone.
Another which I think is particularly interesting at the mo is Elisity, a self-styled innovator that provides behaviour-based enterprise cybersecurity. This week it raised a $26m Series A. Led by industry veterans from Cisco, Qualys and Viptela, the funding will help it meet growing enterprise demand for its cloud-delivered Cognitive Trust platform.
And it’s this platform which got my attention being ‘intelligent enough to understand how assets and people connect beyond corporate perimeters’.
What does that mean in real-world speak?
Well, it looks to help organisations transition from legacy access approaches to zero trust, a security model based on maintaining strict access controls and not trusting anyone — even employees — by default, across their entire digital footprint.
This enables organisations to adopt a “work-from-anywhere” model rather rely on security and policies based on physical location or low-level networking constructs, such as VLAN, IP and MAC addresses, and VPNs.
The new alliance is designed to jointly research and develop new data-driven risk solutions and products, particularly focused on the cyber security market. And to seek to popularise and accelerate AI security efforts, as well as develop new insurance products and services.
I’m a big fan of incumbents and tech innovators coming together for R&D. Hats off to the Tokio Marine team for driving that one forward.
Woah, I realise it’s starting to become a long read this week. Apologies.
Let’s try and rattle through what else is out there.
A few to check out:
Fraud – Israel’s nSure AI is worth a look. These guys have just raised $6.8m in Seed funding and uses deep learning techniques to provide fraudulent transaction detection for high-risk digital products.
Travel – Chubb has launched a Pay As You Roam (PAYR) travel insurance proposition. As soon as the customers mobile is detected to be ‘roaming’, the trip coverage is activated, and a text message or the app’s pop-up notification informs them that their coverage is in place.
Customers have four hours from receipt of this to either decline coverage for the trip or to confirm who needs to be included for coverage if they did not do this prior to their travel.
Pet – US-based pet insurtech Odie has raised $3m. Odie offers a wide range of plans for dogs and cats with no breed or age limits, enabling customers to build their own plans based on needs.
Business – Embroker has revealed plans to expand into a full-stack European insurtech after raising a $100m Series C. It surpassed $20m in GWP for the first quarter of 2021 and achieved over 100% retention
White-label – Germany’s Element has raised €16m to grow its white-label digital insurance solutions business
Well, there we go. Maybe I should just keep to the headlines. Seems to work a little easier when reading and writing!
Time to call it a day.
Before I go, a big welcome to all the new SøNws readers. And thanks to all those who keep sharing this. Whilst we’ve got a subscribed audience of well over 10k now, it seems to get shared and read many times beyond that.
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