Life innovation, Swedish dogs and safer roads

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Hello all. 

Now, if you thought Sønr was an incredible market intelligence platform that gave you the knowledge and tools to stay relevant, compete and plan for the future, well, you’re kind of right.
 
But there’s more.
 
As the platform grows in popularity it’s not always so easy saying hello to everyone who is using it. And with that, the opportunity to talk through how else we might support you
 
The long and short is we have a world-class team of experts who can help with:

  • Innovation awakening
  • Market analysis
  • Trends reporting
  • Building partnerships
 
These services are just some of the ways we help bridge the gap between intel, strategy and execution. Or put another way, limiting the time to go from great idea to the implementation of game-changing tech.

If you’re already using Sønr and would like to chat through any of this, drop me a line. If you’re not using Sønr and would like to chat through any of this, drop me a line.

 
New lease for life
Life is the one area of insurance that has been heavily criticised for the lack of innovation to date. That said, just last week both the #1 and #2 of the Sønr 100 announced their steps into life insurance.
 
Maybe things are about to change?
 
In its Q3 2020 letter to shareholders, Lemonade revealed it’d be testing a life insurance product over the following 90 days, and that it had established the Lemonade Life Insurance Agency.
 
And WeSure’s CEO Alan Lau said the company is moving into more complex, long-term policies such as life and wealth management. It hopes they’ll make up 20% of their business within four years - the company currently has around 50m active customers so we’re talking big numbers.
 
If you’d like a more of an inside track on either business, I caught up with each a few months back:

 
In other life innovation this week we saw RGAX announce the launch of Tngible, a wellness platform that helps life insurers better engage with customers by providing access to real-time data, health education, and personalised protection products. It’s a white label solution and definitely worth checking out if you’re in this space.


Also, Bestow launched its Protect API, enabling companies to offer digital term life insurance coverage within their own apps or websites. This should definitely accelerate their distribution. Tomorrow, an online platform which helps users create wills, trusts and advanced healthcare directives, has already signed on as the first partner.
 
Keeping with Wills for a minute and there's definitely a growing interest in the space amongst insurers, with the likes of Everplans, Fabric and Tomorrow all receiving backing from insurers such as Allianz and RGAx.
 
To add to the list, this week Northwestern Mutual joined a $15m Series B to back Trust & Will. Since their launch in 2017, they’ve provided digital estate planning services to more than 160,000 people. Not quite WeSure numbers but they’re doing okay.


It’s Prime time for pill delivery
I’m going to keep it light on the health side of things this week. There’s an absolute mountain of activity and if you are a health insurer, give me a shout. I’d be happy to share more.
 
Let’s start with Amazon having launched its online pharmacy service. Available in 45 states and promising free two-day delivery to Prime subscribers. Not bad, right? I can’t wait to see if and how they scale this to other countries. Interestingly shares in US pharmacies CVS and Walgreens dropped 10% at the announcement.
 
A couple more that jumped out.
 
Levels announced a $12m seed round to help bring its biowearable metabolic sensor to market. The platform pairs continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) with software to provide the wearer insights about their health. Their pitch is that this will help close the loop between food, exercise and well-being.
 
And after gaining FDA approval earlier in the year, digital therapeutic company, Pear has this week launched its prescription only service - Somryst to treat chronic insomnia.

I’m fortunate not to have any problems falling/staying asleep but was interested in reading there has been a spike in poor sleeping during the pandemic.
 
The good news is Somryst patients have reported a reduction in the amount of time it took to fall asleep by 45%, the amount of time spent awake at night by 52%, and a 45% reduction in insomnia symptoms.
 
 
Property - photos, videos, cameras, sensors and a bit of AI
Let’s go in order and start with photos.
 
Hover has raised $60m in new funding. Hover uses eight photos of a house (which can be taken with a basic smartphone) and creates a 3D image, which can in turn be used by property insurers and maintenance workers to assess repairs. Travelers, State Farm Ventures and Nationwide - three of the US's largest insurers - led the funding round.
 
On the video front, Spain’s Bdeo has raised $5m in funding. Bdeo leverages AI and video technology automating everything from documentation for policy writing to damage detection for auto and property. Bdeo claims its AI solutions reduce the time a human spends managing a case by up to 80%, ‘enabling them to focus on more complex tasks’. Or make a cup of tea I imagine.

As for cameras, Giraffe360 – a camera that enables brokers and real estate agents to create interior shots and floorplans has raised $4.5m. With the growing need (and attractiveness) of virtual tours, their subscriptions grew a whopping 800% last year.
 
In sensor-land, everyone’s favourite Hippo Insurance has partnered with Kangaroo to offer new customers Kangaroo's sensors which can alert home owners to unexpected leaks and motion.
 
And finally a company I also really like is Flyreel, an AI solution for residential and commercial property insurance. They announced a $10 million Series A this week.
 
Flyreel now works with 15 major insurers, providing them with comprehensive, ground-level interior and exterior property data to improve underwriting and claims outcomes across their book of business.
 
I’m catching up with Cole, the founder of Flyreel next week, so more to follow.
 
 
New York cats, Swedish dogs
I’m still not convinced this is the most innovative model out there but NYC startup, Bond Vet, has announced a $17 million Series A.
 
From what I can gather the money is to open a bunch of well-designed inner-city vet practices. And whilst there’s plenty of digital within their offering, they also talk about ‘high-friction floors so puppies don’t slip’ and ‘examination tables that give pet parents the ability to remain close to their furry friend during procedures’.
It reminds me of Metro Bank marketing the dog bowls as innovation whilst the challenger banks were in full launch mode.
 
Out in Sweden, vet-on-demand app FirstVet has raised an additional €30m, just one year after its €20m Series B financial round. These guys are the pet equivalent of telemedicine startups Kry or Babylon Health. Over the past few years they’ve expanded to Finland, Norway, Denmark, the UK and Germany. The new money is to go big in the US.
 
Having doubled their total number of active users from 200,000 to 400,000 the last 12 months, they’re one to watch.
 
 
Safer roads
A couple of safer road announcements this week.
 
Branch Insurance, a startup offering super-quick home and auto insurance, has partnered with telematics leader Cambridge Mobile Telematics. They’re launching Community Drive - pretty much the usual ‘drive safely and get money off your premium’ model.
 
And one I really like is Israel’s Ride Vision which announced a $7m investment for its AI-driven safety tech to prevent motorcycle collisions. Their plan is to roll out in Europe in 2021. Just writing that I realise we’re talking just weeks away. Where did 2020 go?

It’s been a while since I rode a motorbike and I could definitely have done with some of their tech on board. Ideally a couple of days before I wrote my bike off.
 
 
Opening up new markets
Revolutionary innovation is my absolute favourite. Whether it’s been validated elsewhere (geography or industry) and applied to a new market, or it’s something brand new, either way, it’s super exciting.
 
To kick things off, comparison site Turtlemint, who we met a few years ago when we took BGL Group out to India, continue to thrive and have just raised a $30m Series D. With a 3% insurance penetration, the Indian market is ripe for the picking.
 
Another market I’m obsessed by, for similar reasons, is Africa. It’s great to hear about the launch of OneSpark. Their objective is to ‘innovate in an area that the insurance sector has forgotten and neglected, with world-first products that uplift and empower individuals to lead better lives’.
 
And a couple of others that caught my eye.
 
US-based insurtech Highwing has raised $4m in Seed funding. Highwing claims to have developed the first open data platform for commercial insurance, enabling brokers to more easily leverage data throughout the customer lifecycle.
 
And Blink which launched ‘Blink Interruption’, its latest offering in its suite of parametric insurance solutions. Part of why I like it so much was it being a product of the 10-week Lloyd’s Lab accelerator programme. The other part is because it’s market-ready and cuts average business interruption claims processing time by up to 95%. Nice.
 
 
Date for the diary
If you haven’t signed up to The Future of Insurance Europe next Tuesday and Wednesday, you might want to.

Some top speakers, tackling the biggest challenges across insurance. Will be a good ‘un for sure.

One last call, then time to call it a day and start the weekend.
 
Keep well, safe, happy, healthy. You know the drill.
 
Matt


 
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