Matt C in Japan, Insurtech news and an exciting offer.

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Two firsts this week.

  1. SøNws from the sky. Kinda.
  2. SøNws written by two Matts

Matt C to kick this one off.

I’m en route to Japan where, amongst a tonne of client meetings, I’ll be moderating a panel exploring how insurance companies use open innovation to evolve customer engagement.

And it should be a good one.

I’m joined by leaders from Dai-ichi, Sumitomo Life, Cardif Japan and HCLTech, all of whom have deep and diverse experience.

That’s the good.

The not-so-good is I have a 13-hour flight and no Wi-Fi 😬 It’s amazing how quickly innovation (internet in the sky, who’d have thunk it?) becomes table stakes and a baseline customer expectation.

And whilst I’d love to say SøNws is written from my perfect recall of the week’s events, it isn’t.

What I need is access to Sønr’s beautifully curated insights which are all, of course, residing in the cloud and something I failed to sync before take-off.

So, it’s over to Matt F to pick this one up 🙏 

Before I go, do hit me up if you’re in Tokyo next week. Or, if not, any suggestions on who I should be meeting and where I should be eating? Those two are pretty much my entire focus for the trip.

Matt, over to you…

Ah, the old ‘no Wi-Fi on the flight’ trick, eh? No problem though – plenty to chat through this week so let’s get started and handily, there’s news from Japan to kick us off.

Embedded in Japan. And everywhere else.

Japan-based fintech, Smartpay have announced a new partnership with Chubb. The vision? Help to accelerate the digitisation of a growing domestic insurance market. The product? Looks likely to be travel-focussed, but I suspect that could be the starting point if you look at Smartpay’s business and their combined customer base.

To be honest, with the hype around embedded subsiding, it’s great to see ongoing practical examples of collaboration to bring new products to market.

So, let’s look at another.

Marsh have also been in on the embedded action, albeit with a more focussed approach. They’ve announced the launch of a new micro-cyber product for consumer electronics. Covering a host of risks including bullying, viruses, extortion, identity, and money theft, it’s offered for free at the point of purchase for an intro period and then can be purchased for less than $1 per day…

Sounds like a lot for not a lot, but then the target market of the personal cyber product is vast — for example, millions of students worldwide buy the computer manufacturers’ products. Let’s see!

Climate goodness. And more.

Greece-based insurtech, Hellas Direct have announced a €30M raise. Serving more than 900,000 customers and with €155M in underwritten premiums, their focus is on addressing growing seasonal threats, including more severe wildfires or floods.

Topical and important stuff, indeed. But that’s not all.

They also have plans to introduce a range of products to encourage and enable policyholders to actively contribute to mitigating climate change. These include supporting financing for homeowners to enhance energy efficiency as well as support for car owners transitioning to less polluting vehicles.

Given the challenges (costs!) of both I’m looking forward to seeing and hearing more. Congrats team Hellas!

From Nat Cat to recycling now, with UK-based battery recycling startup Altilium. They’ve secured $9.4M in a Series A follow-on round. Given the cost of sourcing, extracting, and processing the materials involved, it’s hard to imagine demand going away for this type of solution. That said, I do wonder how the EV market will evolve – they’re expensive, infrastructure-intensive and it’s becoming highly competitive (BYD heading to Europe being a good example).

Anyway, let’s move on.

Rough ride.

The market continues to be an unforgiving place for many unfortunately, with news of both Digisure folding and Koffie struggling to secure a strategic investor. This week also saw Aon snapping up’s tech assets to bolster their commercial fleet capabilities.

We’ve shared plenty on the market conditions, so we won’t dwell too much on this, but I’m sure it won’t be the last news of this type. But, fingers crossed for all.

Good robots. Naughty robots.

Well, it’s been 5 minutes of reading, and I haven’t mentioned generative AI, which can only mean one thing…

You know the rhetoric – it’ll change the world, but it’s really hard to realise value, not least because data privacy’s a key constraint.

In steps Jamix.

The US-based startup has broken cover with an impressive $3M in pre-Seed funding with a secure, model-agnostic AI assistant designed to enhance workplace productivity.

It’ll be worth a bit of digging into this one as this ‘digital assistant’ role has seen a fair amount of activity of late – whether from Roots Automation or Artificial, but certainly it makes a lot of sense.

So, what about the naughty robots? Well, we’ve seen news from Canada Air who’ve been ordered by the Canadian courts to make a pay-out following its chatbot giving out incorrect flight information. It’s another example from a growing list of where the failure of AI-driven services (which aren’t just limited to assistants) are causing issues. We featured news of the Armilla team’s AI warranty product a few weeks back, which points at the challenge, but also the opportunity in this area.

Businesses who care.

Possibly because I’ve got two small girls. Possibly because of my role at Sønr. Possibly because of the (shambolic) state of social care in the UK. Either way, the launch of JustParent caught my eye this week – providing the UK’s first parental leave insurance.

The product enables businesses to offer better parental leave pay and will provide up to 100% of the employee’s basic salary whilst they are on parental leave, above an agreed excess.

That’s big news when paternity leave can be anywhere from 6-30 weeks, and maternity anywhere from 12-30 weeks. As you might imagine, pricing is highly personalised to each business and their employees, but it’s a compelling proposition – especially in the current economic climate. Something that I’ll be checking out!

OK, that’s it. But, before I go, I wanted to put a shout out to the Open Innovation study we kicked off this week.

I know Matt C has reached out to some but not all clients already. A big thanks to those who have already completed the questionnaire. If he hasn’t yet been in touch, or indeed you work in innovation at a (re)insurer or one of the big brokers, we’d love to have you involved.

You can find a link to the survey here.

It takes 12 minutes to complete on average (hey, it’s not us timing you – just a perk of Office Forms!) and we’ll follow up each survey with a 30-minute interview. That’s it.

In exchange you’ll have priority access to the white-paper we’ll create, featuring a detailed run through the open innovation options available, the key trends we’re seeing, and a whole host of valuable industry benchmarks for you to compare against.

Right, that’s me.

Have a great weekend and please drop me a line on Brella if you’re heading to ITI in a couple of weeks – would love to catch up.

Matt F

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