Singapore. Barcelona. Cows.

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The sun’s out, the weekend’s nearly here and SøNws has hit your inbox… What a time to be alive.

What’s more, with the intrepid Matt C out in NYC, you get to spend it with me – Matt F (again) with another run through of what’s been catching our eye in the wonderful world of insurance. 

Not only that, but this week it’s a highly participatory exercise, with opportunities to come and see/hear/connect with exciting emerging startup talent, think tanks and more.



Want to know more?

Well, keep reading… but most importantly get in touch!

Uno, dos, three.
The 27th June sees the start of ITC DIA Europe in glorious Barcelona, where we’ll be taking the stage not once, but twice, along with some of the industry’s hottest talent and sharpest minds.

And you can come too. 

Want to understand which startups are shaping the future of insurance? Come and join us for the launch of our latest report celebrating early-stage startup talent – the Forward50 Europe

Hear about key trends from the report, gain perspective on what they mean for the future of insurance and meet some of the startups featured. 

We have a limit of 100 places, which are filling up fast so RSVP today to register your interest.

Location: Hotel Porta Fira, Pl. d’Europa, 45, 08908 L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona
Date: 27 June, 2023
Time: 12pm – 1:30pm

Want to take part in a think tank exploring the future of commercial sustainability? Come and join Sabine VanderLinden, Yannick Even (Swiss Re), Magda Ramada (WTW) and Emmanuel Djengue (RGAX)… and me(!) to explore the critical topic of how to close the digital gap for emerging Commercial Lines and Life & Health insurance risks.

You’ll hear the thoughts of our expert speakers, before debating the topic with our startup panels. This was hugely oversubscribed at ITC Vegas, and handily is in the same room as the Forward50 launch so register your interest with Phill Hirons from ITC today!

Location: Hotel Porta Fira, Pl. d’Europa, 45, 08908 L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona
Date: 27 June, 2023
Time: 2pm – 5:15pm

I travelled all the way to Singapore to meet the Lloyds crew again! Rosie and the team were there running the Asia leg of their startup competition series. If you don’t already know, this is a search for global startup talent, the winners of which gain automatic entry to Cohort 11… how brilliant is that?

Which brings us back to Blighty, where applications for Cohort 11 are open!

So, if you are an innovative company who wants to develop and launch a new product into the Lloyd’s market, then this 10-week programme is for you.

This time Lloyd’s Lab are accepting applications under the 3 themes of:

  1. New Products
  2. Data, Models & Processes
  3. Asia-Pacific Climate Risk, Cyber and Sustainability

You can find out more about Cohort 11, and/or tell all your startup mates with amazing ideas to  apply here.
You can find out more about Cohort 11, and/or tell all your startup mates with amazing ideas to apply 
You’re welcome.
2 industry reports, a think tank, more insight than you can shake a stick at, and a world-renowned accelerant for your business. What a kick off to SøNws. You. Are. Welcome.

Seriously, don’t delay – come and see us. And remember – this is just some of the value we’re bringing to our customers each and every day…

So, it’s time to get back to the beating heart of SøNws – the er, news…

From Singapore with love.
I’m sat here, I think finally over the jet lag/exhaustion from an awesome trip to Singapore for ITC Asia. Too many people to thank for their hospitality, kindness and patience dealing with my jet-lag-addled brain and the ensuing moments of loss of brain function.

Highlights include the launch of the Forward50 APAC report with our partners, InsureTech Connect (thank you team!). If you haven’t seen this already, check it out here including a brilliant panel with Philippe Vezio (Tokio Marine), Lauren Liang (Swiss re) and Jonas Boltz (Ergo).

Also, to Jean Michoud (Liberty), Prashant Agarwal (AIA), Federico Brandi (Roojai) and Yuda Wirawan (Jagadiri) for a great session on how social media can go beyond awkward TikToks…

Thanks to all and let me know if you’d like to know more.

Good vibes.
The sun is shining, and I’m feeling upbeat so let’s revel in some good news stories.

1. First up are embedded experts (geniuses?) Cover Genius who announced a landmark this week – having now sold more than 25m policies and protecting 14m customers globally.

There’s a significant tailwind in the market of course, and there’s the minutiae of operating model and KPIs to pore over, naturally. But it’s all too easy to gloss over milestones like this for growing businesses. So, a quick pause and virtual high-fives to the Cover Genius team. Love it.

2. Next is funding news from the dynamic duo behind (currently) motor-focussed, Marshmallow. They’ve secured a £15m three-year revolving credit facility from Triple Point Private Credit. The new money will help the company to expand its product offering to a broader range of customers for an underserved market.

There’s a fantastic purpose-led story behind the business and real (and acute) need for them to be in our lives, so more power to them.

3. Fund news now and you must’ve clocked that AXA Venture Partners announced a €1.5bn fund to invest in European and North American tech startups. The target? Companies that are expected to go public within the next three to four years.

Given the axe that fell on late-stage funding last year, this is positive news for a bunch of founders I’m sure, although not exactly surprising to see the focus on the mature end of the spectrum. Given the likely state of the investment market for some time, it seems a pretty clear statement of intent to make sure the hottest propositions are within AXA’s reach. We’ve speculated for some time about how competitive things could get… perhaps another indicator of just to what extent.

4. Ambition. I love it. And it’s with that in mind that we head to Brazil now, with news of Sami announcing an $18m in Series B funding led by Redpoint Ventures and Mundi Ventures. The digital health insurer completes around 95% of its primary care via text messages, video calls or via their app. Having started out targeting gig economy workers and the smaller end of the SME market, they’re looking to expand and work with ‘larger clients’.

Which will put them in direct competition with incumbents. 
Clearly Redpoint and Mundi buy into the plans to be able to do just that. And so even whilst they still haven’t reached profitability yet, they’re banking on Sami’s proposition (and price point) resonating with enough of the 48m customers in Brazil to succeed. Looking forward to seeing more.

5. Well, we couldn’t have a SøNws without mentioning partnerships. In fact, Matt C was on-stage at ITI NY this week furiously debating the topic with Stefano, Auditee, Yogis and Richard.

So, it’s with interest that we saw Akur8 announce a new partnership with Tokio Marine (Asia) to enhance Tokio Marine’s actuarial pricing. 
Through Akur8’s RISK and RATE modules, Tokio Marine will be able to design and execute risk models faster, more efficiently and with greater performance. What’s more, it’ll also help promote the sharing of best practices across its pricing teams.

The KPIs around speed, revenue etc are pretty well-trodden of course, but it’s great to hear metrics that can have such a huge impact on a business too, but maybe harder to quantify in concrete terms like sharing information.

Just me? No, it’s not. Every single week I speak with clients where opportunities are going begging because information isn’t shared across a single, unified platform.

Which is why we’ve been busily building out our knowledge management suite to help our customers to do just that. So now, you can still get the comprehensive view of startup activity, but also consolidate all your meetings, pitch decks, internal reviews and even track projects or PoCs all in one place…

…Woah… sorry, I started getting carried away. But genuine use cases, a new/improved product, so come and talk to us to learn more.

Let’s gamble!  
Let’s see a show of hands.

Put your hand up if you HAVE NOT seen or heard the phrase ChatGPT in the past 24 hours (seconds??)? 
If I were a betting man, I’d say there are a lot of hands staying in pockets/on desks right now.

An inordinate amount of chat/speculation/opinion around the application of large language model’s (LLM’s) in insurance and this week saw the official launch of a new tool from Simplifai.

The AI automation solutions provider has launched a generative AI tool for insurance. It claims to offer ChatGPT-like enhanced decision making for automated claims management, which is embedded into the company’s no-code AI-powered platform. 
Coined ‘insuranceGPT’, it is the first LLM to be trained specifically on the insurance sector. Very interesting albeit I think falls into the quite familiar territory of a supported chat type experience. 

Moooosic to my ears.
Now here’s a use case I genuinely haven’t come across before, which means I’m about to sound very clever. Or not. 
Either way, NFU Mutual, Gallagher, Markel, and Skyline Partners have teamed up to offer a new insurance product for dairy farmers – a parametric heat-stress insurance for dairy farmers in the UK and a first for these shores. In the future, other parametric insurance products for the agriculture and horticulture industries will also be explored.

And if you didn’t know, it’s a real challenge in a pretty beleaguered sector with heat-stressed cows producing less milk, having lower pregnancy rates as well as a host of other issues including increased lameness, disease incidence and death rates.

Parametric. Parameteric.
Speaking of parametric, here’s two more stories that stood out:

Global climate risk solutions platform, Arbol, and the good folk at Beazley announced the launch of specialist parametric weather products to the US market for the agriculture sector. The product range will include low and excess precipitation, low and excess wind speed, high and low temperature, and lack of solar irradiance.

So, whether it’s too wet/dry/windy/calm/hot/cold/sunny/overcast they’ve got you covered. Sounds like the British transportation industry should also be taking a look at this.

Back with AXA now, with AXA Climate extending its parametric drought insurance solution offering. It will be expanding its partnership with Planet Labs PBC, a technology provider of Earth data and insights. Planet Labs has a fleet of 200 satellites which provides information concerning changing weather and climate conditions. The company is investing more resources into this branch of the business as attention on such areas increases.

The fourth musketeer. 
Anyone clock the Amazon Insurance store breaking cover in the UK a while back? Hopefully yes because we told you all about it a while back!

But if you didn’t, it’s expanding. This time it’s with the involvement of personal lines insurance specialist, Policy Expert. They’re the fourth provider to get involved alongside other big names: Ageas, Co-op, and LV for home and contents insurance.

With a motor book of 171,000 customers and plans to double in size within five years and 890,000 home insurance policies sold over the past 12 months or so, they bring some further scale.

What’s interesting is the store is growing, and Amazon are expecting further insurers to be added to the store later this year.

From one giant to another. 
US retail giant Walmart has announced the company will offer pet telehealth via a partnership with veterinary telehealth provider Pawp, offering Walmart+ subscribers free access to virtual vets for a year.

The company is making the move in a bid to hang on to higher-income earners who may be attracted by competitor Amazon. And it’s not an arbitrary move, with a buoyant pet insurance market, the announcement comes after the US pet insurance sector was valued at over $123bn and growing rapidly.

A glimpse of the future?  
Lots of stories this week about application of existing tech in new use cases (alas, are there any new ideas anymore?), so here’s one to round out this week’s news.

Life insurer, Meanwhile, has announced it has raised $19m in a couple of Seed rounds. That’s a pretty decent amount for a Seed round, right? The proposition? Well, they’re aiming to be the first and only life insurer with premiums and claims entirely payable in cryptocurrency – or Bitcoin to be more precise. I’ve heard countless debates about the use of crypto in the life (and long-term investments) space so it’s really interesting to see it coming to reality, albeit there’s a little way to go.

The aim of this funding is to allow Meanwhile to garner approval as a licensed and regulated life insurance company by the Bermuda Monetary Authority, as well as hire its initial team and launch its first product.

Super interesting though, right?


And on that bombshell I’ll wish you a very happy weekend. 

Until next time (or Barcelona!) my friends. 

Matt (F) 

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