Insurance still 'crying out for disruption'

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Who knew the Future50 series would be such a big hit? Love it.

If you haven’t yet downloaded the Future50 Americas you can grab a copy here.

And it’s now Insurtech 100 time – a collation of the leading insurtechs driving change across insurance. To kick things off:

  1. If you think your company should be included as one of the leading global Insurtechs hit us up at [email protected]
  2. If you’d like to sponsor Insurtech 100 get in touch. We’ve a number of packages and we’re up for being a little more creative with it this year
  3. We’re on the hunt for big name judges – CEOs/C-Suiters from leading companies around the world. If you or your boss is interested, drop me a line

Oh, and if you’re new to SøNws it’s probably worth saying publishing reports isn’t our core business 🙂
You can find that here.

Right, time for some market news.

Before I do, I just saw this on Twitter which made me smile.

The good news is we’re starting to change that up in Europe. Finally.

Why the Flock is there so much mobility news this week?

Keeping with the European vibe and it’s really great to see Ed Leon Klinger and the Flock team land their £17m Series A.

Founded in 2015, these guys started out by providing insurance to commercial drone operators such as Netflix and the BBC. In 2020, it started offering the same product to companies in the automotive sector.

And now they’re staring at a $160bn market which, in Ed’s own words, is ‘crying out for disruption”.

I’m a big fan of Flock and wish them all the luck.

Keeping in the UK for a second and Onto has raised $175m in a combined equity and debt Series B round.

Onto is an all-inclusive car-as-a-service company which has found that sweet spot between society’s love of subscription services and EV adoption driven by legislation. Now, once they have those Rivians on their books, I’m signing up.

One other investment I thought worth sharing:

After growth of 200% in the last 6 months, South African startup Pineapple has raised a $4.5m series A.

The company was founded in 2018 by former Google execs and interestingly allows users to get quotes within seconds with just a single picture.

There’s something to be said for that, right?

Open Innovation continuing to drive change across insurance

For me it doesn’t get any better than that moment when an incumbent gets together with a brilliantly innovative and capable startup, and the magic happens.

It’s not a guaranteed success but it’s a whole lot more likely to work out rather than building it yourself or even heading down the M&A route.

A couple of partnerships we clocked this week:

Singaporean Zensung which has experimented with products across property, health and travel, has partnered with ERGO and Munich Re to launch Parrot Safe Drive.

As with all Zensung’s work, it’s heavily AI-based. Together they’ve launched a ‘green’ insurance policy that rewards customers for safe driving, and enables users to compensate for the CO2 emissions caused by their trips by buying carbon credits straight from the app.

I tried to get a screen shot of the new company but my Google search results weren’t quite what I was expecting:

I finally got there:

And one from the US – early stage D2C auto insurtech Loop announced a partnership with mapmaker and location technology company TomTom.

Loop will use TomTom’s maps and traffic data to better understand driver behaviour and road risk, which is the foundation of the company’s pricing model.

Rather than rely on a driver’s credit and other typical financial proxies such as homeownership and education, their AI-driven approach plans to establish fairer and more transparent prices.

No more location bias? Could be a very good and much needed thing.

Let’s stop the car talk and d(r)ive into some life and health goodness.

Healthtech making the world a better place

More action in the European startup scene.

Great to see Madrid-based startup Asistensi close its series A round of $10.5m.

Asistensi was founded in 2019 to help improve medical coverage for migrants’ relatives back home.

The company enables migrants to buy emergency medical insurance for loved ones in their country of origin and can be purchased online without any medical admission tests.

Amazing. I genuinely love this kind of innovation.

In the UK digital healthtech Peppy has secured a Series A of £6.6m.

The B2B platform provides care and support to employees experiencing menopause, pregnancy, fertility issues and early parenthood. It’s all funnelled through the app where users can chat to experts and an online community going through similar experiences.

Again, brilliant.

Finally in Israel, Sweetch, which uses AI to help chronic condition management, has raised a $20m Series A.

Their app tracks a range of data points including weight and activity and then uses a whole bunch of clever tech to provide nudges and guidance. Sweetch says the funds will be for global expansion. Watch this space.

A new wave of life insurers gaining serious traction

Hats off to Sammy and his team at YuLife.

They’ve landed a whopping £70m Series B to ‘further gamify the life insurance industry’.

Yulife was founded in 2016 by Sammy Rubin with the ambition to transform the life insurance industry. And it looks like they’re well on the way to doing that. Worth noting, for anyone thinking they might come in and snap them up, their latest valuation was $346 million.

Another big raise this week was by Ethos – the digital life insurer where you can apply and qualify for a policy in just 10 minutes.

Two months after announcing a $200m Series D round that took its valuation to $2 billion, they’ve seemingly brought in another $100m. Sure, why not?

The new investment from SoftBank Vision Fund 2 (adding to a pretty star-studded cast of others – Google Ventures, Accel, Sequoia etc) brings its valuation to $2.7 billion.

Digging a little deeper into the numbers, it looks like both their revenue and user base has grown by 500% year-on-year for the past 5 years. At this rate I might have a look down the back of the sofa and get in on their next round.

It’s a SPACtacular time for property insurtechs

Another company driving change across insurance is Kin.

Just a few months after raising its Series C, property insurtech Kin is to receive a $80m PIPE (Private Investment in Public Entity) investment ahead of its SPAC acquisition.

Kin also revealed it was purchasing a dormant insurance carrier through a stock purchase agreement, which will give it licenses in more than 40 states. After closing, Kin will have a value of over $1bn. Strong gains.

Another Insurtech favourite, Hippo, is entering the commercial insurance market.

Its first new product is a tailored homeowners association product, leveraging data-driven underwriting and satellite imagery. Hippo’s stepping into the commercial market follows its announcement earlier this year that it plans to go public via SPAC.

Small business / Gig economy

Next has secured further investment from Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Company, following MS&AD Ventures’ investment in the US-based small business insurtech back in September 2020.

Mitsui Sumitomo stated it planned to achieve “further business growth through the enhancement of products and services utilizing NEXT’s advanced digital technology.”

In April 2021 Next was valued at $4bn after doubling its valuation in 12-months.

We’re tracking tonnes of stuff on Next so do check out their Sønr profile if of interest.

Another business we’re tracking closely is UK’s Collective Benefits who are doing some great things.

They’ve just closed a £6m round a year after it raised a £3.3m Seed.

With 6.6m independent workers in the UK, 98% of whom have no sick or accident pay, and 1/3 with no savings whatsoever, it feels like a pretty relevant business right now.

The company plans to use the new investment to expand its presence in Europe, hire new talent and develop new products. It’s also just announced a partnership with Wakam in the UK.

Fighting fraud with FRISS

With estimates of fraud representing as much as 10-17% of total claims paid annually it’s FRISS to the rescue.

If you haven’t already come across them, these guys are an ‘AI-powered end-to-end fraud prevention and detection solution’. Why does that sound like their marketing team wrote it?

They’ve also just closed a $65m Series B.

They’re in about 40 countries, have worked with 200+ companies across P&C and claim a 10x ROI for some clients. Nice work FRISS.

In other claims news, Texas-based software company Solera is set to buy Aussie startup ENData.

ENData provides claims and supply chain solutions to the top 5 general Australian insurers. The acquisition bolsters Solera’s APAC coverage. Interesting? Kinda. Maybe I should have left that one out.

Almost there. Keep strong.

Embedded is all the rage

Kamet-backed Setoo is to merge with Pattern, an MGA previously in stealth mode which offers both parametric and traditional embedded insurance.

The joint company will help businesses in the EU and the US by offering customised, embedded insurance products.

And Berlin-based B2B2C digital insurance platform i-surance has been acquired by Singaporean bolttech in a bid to expand presence in Europe. There’s no stopping these guys. They’re going to be a proper game-changer.

The transaction follows a recent Series A funding round by bolttech, raising $180 million for the scaleup and giving it unicorn status. The acquisition of i-surance will increase bolttech’s global presence from 14 to 26 markets across 3 continents, adding 12 new countries in Europe.

Cyber Insurtechs scaling rapidly

Another great Israeli company, At-Bay, has reached unicorn status with a valuation of $1.35 billion, after closing a $185m Series D round.

This investment is the cyber startups third round in just 18 months, bringing total funding to $272 million.

What’s even more impressive is the speed in which At-Bay’s valuation has increased – it’s seen a fourfold increase in 7 months since its last $323 million valuation back in December. Gulp.

Closer to home and French cyber startup YesWeHack has just closed a $18.8m Series B with insurer CNP Assurances taking part in the round.

The clue to how they work is in their company name. They connect clients with over 25,000 ethical hackers in over 40 countries, helping them improve their security posture by finding vulnerabilities in their assets. Interesting huh?

Two to read/watch

I stumbled across Chris Skinner’s blog the other day and loved this short article he wrote – The Olympics of Money

And a quote from it which I thought mapped nicely to the world of insurers:
“Imagine you have the Olympics of Money. Each event has bright young things competing. But imagine the whole event is run by the bank. The bank wants all the bright young things to run as fast they can … and then acquire their greatest talent, ideas and views. That is how the Olympics of Money works. The banks and governments run the games, and then take over the winners of the games and their talents.”

And another, this time a video well worth a watch – Diary of a startup: Doma

Thanks for sharing this, Adrian Jones. A great insight to the life of an entrepreneur and a look into Doma’s journey.

That’s it from me.

Look out for our Q2 insurtech briefing which we’ll publish next week. I caught up with Nigel Walsh from Google and Éric Allombert from Wakam and will be sharing those interviews too.

Finally, a big thanks to Dan Caines (Bupa), Alla Gancz (Capco/Royal London) and Ant Barker (Aviva) who helped with the Investor/Corporate Innovator of the Year judging during the week.

A great fun morning and some excellent pitches. Congrats to all those shortlisted and apologies for this guy in the background…

Do reach out if you’d like to connect or learn more about Sønr.

Have a good one.


p.s. Off the back of an amazing H1 2021 we’re on the hunt for a Global Client Success Director. Drop me a line if you’re up for making a move and joining a fast growth tech company.

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