The world is changing.
We’re not keeping pace.
We need to innovate faster.
My god, someone, please say something different.
I was up on stage at Insurance 2025 this week. This time not as a keynote, rather a mid-afternoon slot. And so I went for the whole day, something I tend not to do.
Firstly, what a great conference. Good job Insurance Times.
But boy we owe it to ourselves to change the rhetoric. It’s been 3 years of the same people, the same noise and only very slightly varied graphics. Just to be clear this isn’t just an event problem, this is a problem with our entire approach to how we future-proof our industry.
I’ve just finished reading an 88-page ‘accelerating and enabling innovation’ proposal from one of the big consultancies to one of the big insurers. 88 pages. The irony. Who has the bandwidth for that in their working life? I can only imagine the time (and cost) they’ll take to help you ‘innovate’.
Let’s please step it up. There are better ways to do things.
Be warned, random analogy coming up. Apologies to all those who have recently subscribed and this is the first Sø.Nws you’re receiving.
When I was a kid (in pre-internet days, remember them?) I used to skateboard loads. Bear in mind I grew up in Rutland. For any non-UK folk reading this, Rutland is the smallest county in the UK. Think of a few thatched cottages surrounded by miles of rolling countryside trapped in the middle of England. That’s Rutland.
A couple of pals and I used to tear up and down the one street in our village (see above). Over the years we got faster, learned a few tricks and at the age of 14, heard about these nearby town kids who could ‘ollie’ up pavements.
This was our future. We knew we had to master it. But first we had to find a pavement.
From the age of 14-16 we learnt the impossible – 2.5 inches of pure vertical ascent.
But it was all short-lived. I stepped into adulthood, leaving school, leaving Rutland and being introduced to…the ‘skate park’.
It had everything - quarter pipes, half pipes, rails, the lot. Who could imagine? Who were these Velcro-footed sorcerers, flying through the air with boards stuck to their feet?
Right, let’s not push this analogy any further. You get the point right?
Sometimes, just sometimes, you need to look outside your known world to understand just what is achievable. Look beyond the startups you already know (and maybe consultants!). Study other industries. How are they innovating? Why are they successful? How do they get around the blockers of mindset, risk aversion, legacy?
These days there’s no excuse for not doing this. Once you’re informed you can chose to do something about it. Or not. But ignorance is inexcusable.
Time for some market news.
Let’s start with the raft of companies at the intersection of healthcare and technology. Lots of activity over the past fortnight.
Weimai, the Chinese online healthcare platform, has raised a solid $100m to expand its professional networks and pour into tech. Dialogue, the Canadian employee equivalent, have raised a mere $40m with a view to rolling out in Europe. And finally, Livongo, the tech firm redefining chronic disease management, has filed for an IPO. Expectations are a £200m raise on a value of $2bn. All big numbers.
To balance that out, someone asked me whether we track the failures as well as the successes. Yes, is the answer. Not that I need to prove it (!) but whilst on the subject of telemedicine, it was interesting to see that Call9, who to date has raised $34m, is closing its doors. Tough times.
Back to good news and Belgium-based Qover have raised €8m. Offering a bunch of insurance products via open APIs and white-label front-ends they’re putting the money to a European rollout. Their pitch - the launch of non-life insurance products in any European country in just six weeks.
There’s also been a load of emergent market activity.
Singapore Life which has an insurance and wealth focus, has secured $90m to grow across South-east Asia and Singapore.
And on a smaller scale you have Recko.io, an Indian transaction reconciliation company, securing a seed round of $1m and Turaco, a Kenyan health insurer, landing their first $40k.
I know I bang on about China (a lot) but the African market is also truly fascinating. With the largest share of the world’s unbanked and underbanked, and a crazy level of smartphone access and connectivity, there is so much opportunity to positively impact the population.
On that note, we’ve just started working with our first Nigerian client. Well done us.
Keeping with Africa, we have the comparison platform CompareGuru’s acquisition by insurance distribution company SureStart, enabling it to offer white-labelled insurance solutions.
The only other interesting acquisition I could pick out this week is FWD Group’s takeover of Metlife Hong Kong, stating ‘another step towards fulfilling our ambition to build a leading panAsian life insurance platform’.
This week Cigna Singapore launched their Virtual Clinic, providing customers access to licenced doctors through a mobile app. And EverQuote, the US based insurance marketplace, has broadened out of auto, home and life to include both health and rental insurance.
Then we come to Allianz France and the launch of HobbiSure. The clue is in the title on this one - daily coverage for accident or injury resulting from sports and leisure activities. I’m heading out on the bike, on demand insurance would be perfect. Climbing, definitely.
The next bit is where it starts to unravel. Gardening. I might be a use case of one, but who has ever stepped into the garden wishing they were covered?
Finally, the London team at Flock have launched their enterprise product; the first real-time insurance for drone fleets. It’s all based on their proprietary Risk Intelligence Engine which analyses and prices real-time drone flight risks on an individual basis and is a smart bit of kit.
A few interesting ones here.
Generali Italia has announced a strategic partnership with Google to create and innovate a cloud-based platform of customised products and services. And Allianz has partnered up with Wrisk to offer new automotive insurance products, delivered in partnership with car manufacturers at the point of sale.
Another that also caught my eye, is the coming together of DIA and ZhongAn to launch DIA’s first event in Hong Kong this December. Sounds bloody brilliant. Any excuse for a few days in HK.
Actually whilst we’re on the topic of China two things:
We caught up with Charles Bark founder of HiNounou this week. They’ve build a beautifully smart platform to help the world’s ageing population live longer. Have a read about them, their AI companion robot and global ambitions.
A very brilliant market intelligence and proposition development company
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