Jack Ma, Boris Johnson and me

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The experiment is over. After two weeks of people telling me how much they enjoy Sø.Nws landing on a Friday, it’s now back on a Friday.

You’re welcome.
 
Back to the Motherland
Having been born and raised in Bolton, it was a pleasure to head back up north for the BIBA conference. A big shout out to the BIBA team for such a fantastic event and to Shân Millie for an expertly delivered hackathon.

Standouts for me were Ben Rose from Aon Inpoint, an absolute natural on stage and the frontman for the winning hackathon team, chatting with the BBC newsreader, Huw Edwards, about how he got in shape through his love of boxing, and seeing the Insurtech 100 in print in the Insurance Post.

Less standout was one of the broker’s stands drawing people in by cleaning their shoes. And the moment Boris Johnson revealed live on stage that he would be launching a leadership challenge once Theresa May steps down, which, as of this morning, looks like it’ll be 7th June.

Like this country didn’t have enough to worry about.
 

The Great Call of China
Jack Ma is making waves in China with his newest play - Xiang Hu Bao. Having launched in October last year it already has circa 65 million customers, all serviced by just 300 staff. Impressive. Especially when you consider Ping An Insurance had to employ around 1.4 million people last year to sell its policies.

The literal translation of Xiang Hu Bao is ‘mutual protection’, with customers paying small monthly fees that are then pooled to cover treatments for diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and even Ebola.

But Ma isn’t content with 65 million customers. Who would be? His vision is to reach 300 million in the next couple of years.

Excuse the plug but if you would like to witness some of this innovation first hand, come out with us in September. Across a week we’ll curate 30+ meetings with startups, accelerators, VCs and corporate innovators.


The Competitor Playbooks
Back in Europe, and Beazley has launched a new cyber policy for the marine sector that will protect container ships against being hacked by cyber pirates. The insurer’s head of hull and war (now that’s a job title) says it is the risk management that makes the cover so special, and this is one to watch as ships become even more connected.

Telematics remains a big buzzword in the insurance world, and Munich Re is looking to tap into the market after signing a global deal to integrate The Floow’s data collection, refinery and scoring solutions with Munich Re’s insurance products and actuarial expertise.

Allstate Canada is also expanding its telematics offering, launching a Drivewise app that feeds back on driving habits to help improve driving behaviour and road safety. Interestingly, the insurer has also promised policyholders won’t see a rise in premiums, regardless of driving behaviours.

Over in the home insurance market, Plymouth Rock has launched a new quote service that can deliver accurate prices in seconds. It’s a simple data play but nevertheless good to see the shift towards improved consumer experience.
 

Show Me The Money
It’s been another busy fortnight in the investment world, with Singapore-based start-up Biofourmis leading the way after it raised $35m for expansion in a Series B round. The company is doing some really interesting stuff with AI as it looks to improve patient outcomes by customising treatments after people have been discharged from hospital.

Ravin.ai is another looking to leverage the power of AI, with the Israeli and UK-based business securing a $4m seed round to develop AI to autonomously inspect vehicles for damage.

Over to Chicago (that’s right, no Sø.Nws would be complete without me telling you how much I love it over there) and Snapsheet has landed $29 million in a round led by Tola Capital. The money will be used to expand its smartphone-based insurance claims solution beyond motor insurance, and is definitely one to keep an eye on.

Allianz X, meanwhile, has announced a deal for finanzen.de, a leading European B2B online marketplace for high-value consumer traffic in the insurance and financial services sectors.
 
To wrap things up, SE2, a third-party admin company has taken a majority stake in Life.io. If you don’t know the Life.io guys, they’re worth checking out. Their pitch is to improve the physical, mental, and financial wellbeing of policyholders through educational content, wearables and life event data.
 

The Insurtech 100
In case you missed it, a quick reference to the Insurtech 100 we ran with the Insurance Post.
We’ve had a crazy amount of interest in it, particularly around our Sønr Index™ - modelling a company’s propensity for success.

As always, if you would like to know more about this please do drop me a note. We’re up to some seriously clever stuff with Sønr at the mo.
Enough from me. The sun is shining and I need to go on a hunt for new offices.

It’s special to be part of a team that’s growing so quickly, less fun when you have to keep moving.
 
Matt

p.s. We’re launching a full service proposition development side to the business on June 1st. Something we’ve been doing for a while, just now fully resourced and packaged up.

If you’re needing a hand coming up with innovative ideas or have something you need bringing to life, drop us a line. Not only do we bring unique access to market intelligence but also we’re up for putting money into the co-creation.



 
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