It’s Friday, I’m down to my last coffee capsule and still have two proposals and half a climbing frame to finish before the day is out.
Let’s get into it.
Eeking out every bit of value we can from the Insurtech 100, we joined up with Swifty once again to chat all things claims with 3 of the leading insurtechs – Floodflash, Tractable and Snapsheet. If you’re in this space, it’s definitely worth a watch/listen.
As for the Insurtech 100, the interest in it is growing year on year.
With 1000+ downloads in the first few days, and the subsequent deluge of 14-day Sønr trial requests, it’s further confirmation that insurance innovation is having its moment in the spotlight.
Whilst there's plenty of debate to be had around the potential pressures from SoftBank to release capital, there’s also a current surge in appetite for IPOs.
Would I do the same if I were running Lemonade? Yeah, absolutely.
Time for some market news.
In the US, Duck Creek has just raised a massive $230m. With that it plans to enhance its SaaS services and scale product development and international expansion.
Origin, which offers automated financial planning for employees - including helping users to pay off debt, build savings and find insurance - raised $12m.
And Betterview has brought in a $7.5m Series B, led by ManchesterStory Group. The company will use the funds to expand its capabilities in the Remote Property Intelligence space.
In a similar world, the UK’s Qlaims (which I can’t ever say without thinking of Monty Python’s ‘release Roger’ sketch), raised a seed round of £2.3m. Their tech supplies video streaming and drone technology to insurers, loss adjusters and brokers. The investment will be used to accelerate the growth of their secure video streaming platform and claims advocacy insurance cover.
Across the water and French startup Monk.ai, which was only founded last year, has raised €2.1m in Seed funding. These guys offer remote vehicle inspections and diagnosis services by leveraging AI to detect vehicle issues in user-taken photos. A kind of earlier stage Tractable. Monk stated it would use the funding for R&D, scaling its team, and expanding across Europe.
Heading further East and Israel’s commercial insurtech Planck has raised a $16m Series B round. Their AI-powered data processing platform provides commercial underwriters with insights and faster decision-making.
It’s getting busier and busier on the partnership front. Time to ask one of the team to pull some data together on this one. For now, a select few.
Possibly my favourite, which I hope you’ve all seen, is the partnership between MS&AD and Seven-Eleven to sell life (and other) insurance at their 20,000 stores in Japan. Amaaaazing.
A customer can apply for the insurance through a multifunction copier machine…I know…installed at a Seven-Eleven outlet. How good is that? Most of the process can be completed beforehand by using a smartphone, and then users just pay for it at the store’s cashier.
Okay, so I’m not sure I’m pitching this one into clients any time soon but super interesting to see innovation like this on the distribution front. Seven-Eleven said it hopes to achieve some 60,000 new contracts by next March.
Keeping with life insurance and MassMutual's insurance agency Haven Life has partnered with technology platform Benefitfocus.
The move enables millions of Benefitfocus' customers to access Salary Protection, a new term life insurance policy that pays an employee's beneficiary the equivalent to the policyholder's pay-check every month — for up to 15 years after initial purchase — if they were to pass away during the coverage period. Interesting alternative.
In Europe Allianz has been busy partnering up. The Belgian team have teamed up with WeGroup, enabling brokers on the Louise platform to access Allianz' P&C products to compare premiums and coverages.
And Allianz Partners has collaborated with Germany’s e-mental health startup HelloBetter to offer digital, scientifically-backed mental wellbeing solutions.
And in the States Hiscox are partnering with Thimble to offer on-demand business insurance policies. To date Thimble have sold over 100,000 policies. I can see this ramping up pretty quickly.
And finally, Roanoke Travel Insurance, a subsidiary of Munich Re Specialty Group North America, has partnered with travel insurance MGA Battleface to launch adventure travel product sales in the US. The partnership enables Battleface to offer its products and services to US residents in the ‘underserved but growing market of adventure travel’.
All change in price comparison
I first met Matthew Donaldson, the CEO of BGL Group (parent of Comparethemarket.com and others), back in 2017.
The snow had tanked down all night and it was one of those 5am starts to allow enough time for the journey up to BGL’s HQ in Peterborough. From the moment I arrived, as with all the top leaders, he was incredibly personable and generous.
As the meeting kicked off, I was struck by just how clear, direct and deeply considerate he was with all his Board, and how ruthlessly commercial he was in his decision making. Super impressive.
Matthew announced his departure this week with Mark Bailie, former founder and CEO of RBS' Bó, taking the helm in September.
In danger of this being too sycophantic or eulogical, it goes without saying I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with Matthew on a number of projects over the past few years and wish him all the best with whatever is next.
Keeping with price comparison a little longer and it’s reported that Admiral Group Plc is considering the sale of its comparison platform Penguin Portals (which operates Confused.com amongst others).
And it’s not the only the comparison companies that have brought the advisors in; LV= is also reportedly looking at selling. For them it’s the Life and Pensions division.
Not so good times
I haven’t yet looked into this too heavily, but it sounds like Allstate is planning to cut thousands of jobs from its army of circa 46k people. Pretty tough news, especially when US unemployment is already so high and devastating for so many families. The speculation is Allstate’s responding to State Farm dropping its insurance rates by an average of 11%.
Slightly away from insurance and in the UK, the challenger bank Monzo did what all startup founders are told they must never do: raise at a lower valuation than the previous round. It bought in $60m at a £1.25bn valuation, a 40% drop from its last raise. Ouch.
Some are blaming Coronavirus, others 'Challenger Bank fatigue'. But Monzo is still confident – it’s planning to raise further funding in the next few months and be cash-flow positive by next year.
Interestingly, despite talks of Challenger Bank fatigue, Starling Bank is charging forward with its marketplace expansion, specifically targeting services for its 175k SME customers. New partners include a health insurer, Equipsme, energy switching service Bionic, and Slack.
Last but not least, in the eternal struggle for consumer trust, the news about Babylon’s data breach is surely a blow. But it does raise the question of how digital provision is scaled rapidly whilst maintaining a best practice approach to data privacy. This recent study suggests there are some gaps in Covid-related digital services and it'll be interesting to see how regulators respond.
Right, proposals or climbing frame next? It’s a tough call.
I’ll leave you with our latest Spøtlight. This week a super early-stage insurtech looking for some Seed capital - Yokahu. Parametric cyclone protection. Niche, but that’s okay when the numbers stack up.
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