Marshmallow putting European Insurtech in the Spotlight

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Hello there.

Well, won’t you look at that – Marshmallow has closed a $85m Series B, with a valuation of $1.25bn.

There’s so much good in this:

  • The first UK Insurtech to be founded by a team that are Black or have Black heritage
  • The fact that two of the three founders are twin brothers (working in the same room as my dog is hard enough, let alone a sibling)
  • Their business model is all about changing insurance, for the better of society

Pow. Love it.

These guys have grown over 100% in the last six months, surpassed 100k policies sold in the UK and have seen their value nearly quadruple in less than a year. If you don’t already know their business, you can check them out here.

Huge congrats to Oliver, Alexander and David.
I wish you all continued success.

Right, let’s get into some other market news.

Driving health innovation across Asia and beyond

Let’s kick off with health as I had a great fun catch up with Sebastien Gaudin from The CareVoice this week.

I first met this guy a few years back in Shanghai. He had a good business then and it’s only gone from strength to strength.

Have a watch/listen as we talk through the recent launch of their API-based infrastructure. With this, insurers can now plug in external health ecosystems (think the Vitality model) into their own apps. All powered and provided by The CareVoice.

Sebastien also touches on securing additional capital as part of their ongoing Series B as well as their global plans and ambitions. Worth a watch (even if I do stutter my way through the first question for some reason).

Keeping with Asia and Singaporean telehealth startup Doctor Anywhere has landed a $66m Series C.

Doctor Anywhere was founded in 2017 and delivers healthcare services through its mobile platform. It has a network of 2,800 doctors currently serving 1.5 million users.

With the latest round, the company has now raised a total capital of $104m in the last 5 years. The new investment will fuel the company’s expansion across Southeast Asia and further afield.

Also in Singapore, digital health platform Homage raised a $43m Series C this week. The plan is to boost its expansion in Australia.

Mental, dental and genomic

Let’s start with an area that fascinates me – genomics. Particularly in the role it’ll play in the future of health and life insurance.

An announcement that caught my eye this week was California’s genetic testing company Invitae acquiring startup Ciitizen for $325m. Ciitizen help users access and organise their health records.

Whilst Invitae can now provide patients with a centralised hub for their genomic and clinical data, I’m not sure that’s where the real value lies. They’re now sitting on a marriage of data which has to be super valuable for their future.

Stepping into the world of mental health and Alma closed a $50m Series C.

Pre-Covid, Alma’s model was to offer therapists a private practice where they could see patients without having to lease their own space. As you can imagine, that stopped pretty abruptly early last year and they had to pivot pretty hard.

Having shuttered its two New York therapist office spaces, they spun up virtual technology and doubled down on the health insurance part of its business.

Revenue is now 13x up from April of last year and 2,000+ therapists have signed up as membership continues to grow 30-40% each quarter. Nice.

Good work Alma.

This week we also caught up with Michael Held of LifeSpeak.

LifeSpeak is a SaaS provider of digital mental health and well-being education for mid- and enterprise-sized organisations.

Michael talks us through the company’s recent IPO, the increase of focus on mental health during the pandemic and his plans for the next 12-months.

On the dental side a couple of fundraises out of the US.

Overjet secured a $27m Series A to further develop its AI-backed digital dental assistant. The tool was developed to help dentists and hygienists measure ‘mesial and distal bone levels in bitewing and periapical radiographs’ (okay, I’m officially out of my league here) to help diagnose periodontal disease.

Overjet also partners with insurance companies to help automate claims review and payment integrity. That bit I get.

The other raise this week was Quip, which boasts over 7.5 million users, and raised a whopping $100m Series B.

The new funding will be used to expand into new oral care verticals, and launch a toothbrush aimed at children. Quip, which became profitable in April last year, also enables people to book dental care and order dental supplies via a mobile app.

Embedded insurance. And not embedded insurance

For those in the UK who love to buy their Bic pens and newspapers from WHSmith, you’ll soon be able to add insurance to your shopping basket.

They’ve partnered up with London’s Quotall to offer travel, home and pet insurance. The new product which will be launched later this year and available on the WHSmith website and its stores.

Is it just me or does this feel really random? Either way, I hope it works out for all involved.

A somewhat more obvious relationship between product and insurance is DealerPolicy which provides an insurance marketplace for automotive retail.

DealerPolicy raised a $110m Series C with the plan to accelerate its new finance and insurance offerings for both dealers and car buyers.

Another fundraise and one of the more interesting this week is a huge $100m Series B from Insurify.

These guys are a US auto, home and life comparison platform on a mission to secure embedded insurance opportunities. And they’re doing pretty well with it – recurring revenues are up sixfold since the end of 2019.

Tractable getting smarter and smarter

I had proper look under the hood of Tractable’s new ‘AI Inspection’ product this week. Super smart.


AI Inspection from Tractable

In essence it can assess the external condition of a car in the time it takes to walk around the vehicle.

Tractable is currently used by over 20 of the biggest global insurers and automotive companies. What’s great about the model is their technology will just get better and better the more people that use it. Plus they’ve a real opportunity outside of the automotive, and probably outside of the insurance world too. Watch this space.

A couple you won’t have read about but thought I’d share:

Filipino insurance company Kwik.Insure has launched its ‘zero-interest’ instalment payment scheme for availing its insurance policies for vehicles. It’s part of their effort to make insurance more accessible and less complicated.

And similarly MotiSure, a startup from Kenya, has just launched an API-powered platform that provides personal accident cover for commuters & riders. Their focus is to use IoT and telematics tech to make cover a whole load more affordable.

From renting to wildfires

Good to see US startup Jetty raise $23m a couple of days back.

I’m sure I’ve talked about these guys plenty before – they’re the team who created the ‘buy now, pay later’ equivalent for renters. I.e. Jetty pays the rent due on the first of the month and the renter has up to the 24th of the month to pay the money back.

Their currently play is to move beyond an Insurtech and building its credit and lending portfolio. And so it’s not just fintechs becoming Insurtechs it seems. The reverse is also true.

Also in the US, insurer Amica Insurance has partnered with Zesty AI.

Their plan is to leverage Zesty’s predictive wildfire risk analytics solution – known as Z-Fire – to enhance its homeowners insurance product.

Z-Fire’s a clever bit of kit that uses AI to calculate a wildfire risk score for individual properties – it’s needed too – wildfires in the US caused around $13bn in insured losses in three of the last four years.

The future of underwriting & pricing? Maybe

Another fun catch-up in the week was with Paul Doran, formerly one of the founding team of Inshur.

He’s now joined up with Nuon AI which has just raised £300k. It’s super early stage, founded just last year, but they’re already working with a few insurers, MGA, and brokers providing them with an AI platform to better price risk.

More to come on those Nuon over the coming months I’m sure.

Somewhat later stage and New York’s commercial insurance underwriting platform Kalepa has raised a $14m Series A.

They’re a super interesting company and if you’re in the space, well worth a look. Kalepa’s AI-powered Copilot solution leverages ‘billions of data points’ to automatically learn what the best underwriters are doing, allowing an underwriter to make a more accurate decision.

Commercial insurtech gaining momentum

Continuing the commercial theme, Germany’s Element is entering a partnership with MGA Parametrix Insurance.

Together they’re launching a parametric cloud outage insurance for businesses in Germany. Interesting, right? And I don’t know of this being done elsewhere but do shout if I’ve got that wrong.

The new product will cover financial losses caused by downtime of third-party IT and cloud infrastructure providers. It’s only available for companies with a registered office in Germany but will roll out across Europe shortly.

I was pleased to see Sayata secure a $17m fundraise this week.

These guys provide a marketplace for SME-focused brokers and insurers, helping them place more risk. Their platform launched last year and the business has seen great growth – doubling GWP every quarter to date.

Alright, alright, this is turning into a monster read. No one has this much time.

A quick scan across some other news from around the world:

UAEHala has landed $5m to reconcile payments between motor insurance firms across the emirates. All on blockchain. The new funding will be used to include new products like home insurance and expand into new markets in the Middle East.

Africa – not so relevant to the world of insurance (for now!) but US/Senegalese Wave has just landed an eye watering $200m Series A valuing them at $1.7bn. They’re building a mobile money service that is ‘radically affordable’ and I’ve a feeling is going to become absolutely huge.

India – digital payments platform PhonePe has been issued an insurance broking licence from the insurance regulatory authority in India. This will enable them to distribute insurance products from all insurance companies in India. Interesting.

Hong Kong – one of Asia’s fastest growing startups, OneDegree, has raised a $28m Series B1. Currently a pet and fire (I’m sure there’s logic in that combination) insurer, their ambition is to become a global Insurtech within the next 5 years.

Thailand – currently serving 1.6 million customers, insurtech Sunday has raised $48m. Focussed on motor, travel and health (commercial) the new round will fund their plans to expand operations in Thailand and Indonesia.

BrazilPier has raised $20m as it seeks regulatory approval to expand its offering into home, auto and life insurance

Australia – open insurance company Open has landed a $31m in Series B funding to launch operations in New Zealand and the UK over the next 12-months.

I can’t resist going into this one a little more.

Best known for the Huddle insurance brand, Open now has more than 70,000 customers in Australia and has doubled its revenue in the past 12 months.

As the name suggests they’re all about the embedded play with a particular focus on car, home and travel.

Australia – also out in Oz, Eric Insurance are partnering with insurtech Koba to underwrite the startup’s pay-per-kilometre car insurance product which is going to be launched to the market in October. Koba’s mission is to get 10m Aussie drivers lowering their annual premiums.

When life doesn’t give you lemons

Really interesting to see Lemonade is now facing a class action lawsuit alleging a mishandling of customers’ biometric data.

The suit was filed in the US District Court in South NY by lead complainant Mark Pruden. According to the filed suit papers, Pruden made a claim on Lemonade’ s chatbot platform for a lost piece of $3,500 jewellery. After submitting a short video of himself, the claim was passed to the human team which violated Lemonade’s T&C for not sharing customers biometric data.

Interesting huh?

But it has got nothing on the Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos trials. There’s a phrase in the startup world – ‘fake it till you make it’ but boy oh boy did she take that one too far.

If you like a good podcast and you haven’t listened to The Dropout, it’s an absolute must.

Time for me to call it a day.

Feel I’ve single-handedly failed to plug Sønr this week. If you’ve read this far and you haven’t yet checked out our platform, you’re definitely missing out.

Equally feel free to drop me a line and I’d be happy to chat you through how we help insurers around the world discover and create new business opportunities.

Have a good weekend all.


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