Insurtech companies are emerging at the rate of over one a day and we are all self-publishing now. Twitter and Linkedin pump out real-time updates. Every day brings more opinions and an inbox full of insurtech news. So much choice, and too little time. How do we filter out the useful and important from the irrelevant and distracting?
Happy New Year. And thank you! It is you, our members, that make Instech London so successful – and fun. Through your support, whether as speaker, sponsor, social media activist or just turning up at events, we’ve been able to create a highly connected community, that really is making a difference to people’s business lives. We have listened to what you said in 2017 and have great plans for 2018…
An active start to 2018…
Life, health & insurtech. Knowing me, knowing you at Instech.London
– Matthew Grant
The worlds of “life & health” insurance and “property & casualty” occupy parallel, but different worlds. Rarely do they come together. Intuitively, improving analytics and creating incentives to live healthier lives seems an obvious goal when looking to more accurately price insurance in the life & health space. The use of wearables, coupled with IOT and machine learning has a relatively long history in the short life of insurtech.
The London Market tends to focus on property or casualty related risk, but at Instech London we’re keeping an eye on what’s happening elsewhere. We lined up 8 startups and one life reinsurer, all with a life & health focus, for our 30th October evening event. Would EC3 care about what is happening elsewhere?
Innovation means embracing risk. Within 72 hours of announcing the event, we’d hit our capacity of 270 registrations. So what did we hear? Keep reading for the highlights from each company or sit back and enjoy the videos from the Instech.London youtube channel.
RGAx: Making Life & Health Remarkable
RGA (Reinsurance Group of America) is one of the largest life & health reinsurance companies with $3.1 trillion of life reinsurance in force. RGAx is the innovation arm of RGA. Kate Gillmore, Commercial Director, wants to make the life and health insurance industry remarkable and something worth talking about. She is looking for the “wicked” problems that no one else has been able to solve. RGAx was one of our co-sponsors for the event and currently has 10 partners, some of whom spoke to us during the evening. Kate is looking for others.
Cookhouse Lab: What’s in the kitchen?
Simon Bell, Cofounder of life insurance consultants logic3 has a new venture. The recently launched Cookhouse Lab incubator, based in Toronto. He will be setting up their pop up kitchen in London soon. Cookhouse is working with insurers, start ups, academics, developers and whoever else they like the look of, running short, focused insurtech type projects. The Cookhouse website helpfully describes the work they have completed and the next projects coming up, many of which are still open for participation. Coming soon is a four week sprint in Toronto to build a global risk exposure data warehouse. Cookhouse were our other co-sponsor.
HS. Cracking open the NHS
Doctor James Somauroo, a trained physician and anaesthetist, is the co-founder of HS. a health incubator. He also has a degree in education. There are two sides to the business. HS.Build helps create tech companies from scratch by bringing together smart, qualified people and helping them launch companies with a health angle. HS.Scalesupports existing companies that are looking to work with the NHS (National Health Service). Building client relationships with health insurance companies is a priority for James and his teams.
Enablsme: Getting you back to work, faster.
The health service in the UK is a big problem for SMEs according to Matthew Reed, founder of Enablsme. Without Private Medical insurance (PMI), staff can be off work waiting for long periods to receive treatment, causing significant costs and disruption to their employers. But PMI is expensive; only 5% of SMEs buy it for their employees. One in ten people in SMEs have some form of illness according to Matthew and he reckons that 75% of companies would buy health insurance if it was more affordable. Enbalsme is tackling this with a new type of health cover. Not as comprehensive as PMI, but it’s cheaper and focused on getting people back to work quickly. Enables me has raised it’s first round of funding and is being supported by Axa.
Envisage: exploring your future
Most of us rarely think about the future and when we do we assume we are going to live, long, healthy lives. Even if we accept the high chances of becoming ill and incapacitated as we get older we find it hard to know which health insurance products we should buy to protect us. Envisage is working with Morgan Stanley and programmers from the gaming industry to create different scenarios representing our future lives, including unemployment and disability. Uncomfortable as it may be, we will soon be able to explore how our future could look, and see how well different insurance products will protect us (or don’t). According to Vinay Jayaram the product has passed the pilot stage and Envisage are now looking for insurance clients to work with.
Styliff: fashionable insurtech
We’ve had pet insurtech and now we’ve brought fashion insurtech to the Steelyard catwalk. The team at Styliff gained experience selling high quality discounted clothing and are switching now to the gamification of fitness incentives. And in a refreshingly low tech way. Customers are rewarded for exercising and eating healthily, but will be offered an alternative to having to clamp a fitness tracking device to their wrists. The clothes we wear, according to founder Charlie Regis are a great source of health data. Styliff sells discounted, quality fashion brands. The twist is that the size of the discount is linked to how much someone’s key body measurements improve over time. The team previously created a tool to fit uniforms for Lidl staff. They’ve now reversed their approach to determine how much a person’s size is changing, based on the size of the clothes they order. Styliff is signing up retailers to get access to discounted clothing, which can then be sold without undermining the brand value. They too are looking for insurers to partner with that can take advantage of their client base and its vital statistics.
Quealth: your personal health score
RoadtoHealth was set up to enable people to assess their current state of health, and then understand what actions they can to take to improve it. Quealth, their mobile app, provides a personal health “Q” score. The app ask questions about diet and exercise that will impact the “big five”; diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular, lung and dementia. The healthier you are, the lower your score. David Hope explained that Quealth is partnering with health experts to advise on better diet and suggest exercises that will help improve the Q score. Quealth is working with RGAx and looking for ways to use the score as a new dimension for life & health underwriting.
Sentiance: individual risk profiling
Belgium based Sentiance was founded in 2012 and has $17m of funding to support its ability to extract and analyse data from the sensors on our mobile phones. The company is looking to use what it refers to as “contextual intelligence” for its Lifestyle Based Insurance (LBI). This is another company that believes that if insurers can get access to data that reveals their customers’ daily habits, the resulting personal risk profiling will create a deeper relationship and more accurate pricing. By combining sequences of activities deduced from a phone’s sensors’ data, Sentience create “moments”, common activities with regular patterns such as commuting to work. Patrick Lynch described how combining these moments together for an individual creates their overall risk profile.
Machine Medicine: reducing the cost of home care
John O’Keeffe was our second doctor on stage and is co-founder of Machine Medicine. The company wants to tackle the problem of rising care costs for the elderly. According to John there are over 500,000 people in residential homes, but 97% of the elderly would prefer to stay in their own home. Home care is expensive and requires a dedicated carer. Machine Medicine is pioneering the use of cameras in the house and intelligent analytics of video to create alerts for the most common incidents that affect the elderly at home. The goal is to enable one carer to look after three people living close by, but in different houses. The pilot is being rolled out to 50 people. Initially this will be offered to those that are self funding their care, but the hope is to get acceptance from the NHS as well. Privacy concerns will be addressed by having cameras at floor level in the bathroom and bedroom.
How fast, how soon?
The opportunities for improving our health are clear. But there are major barriers to adoption to overcome. Will people be comfortable sharing some very personal data, particularly if there is a possibility that this can increase their risk profile? The regulators will not be happy if it looks as though people are being penalised for not sharing data. The collection process needs to be seamless. Mobile phone apps are fine for answering 3 or 4 question but too fiddly for much more.
As the last year has proved, insurance favours companies that can scale rapidly. Niche insurance suits niche products. Without a major investment in marketing and the ability to distribute and service a large client base, attempting to offer relatively generic insurance products for the mass market will fail. It’s encouraging that most of the companies that we heard from were seeking insurance partners rather than trying to enter the market alone. The question now is whether the traditionally conservative life insurance industry is ready to partner with the newcomers.
For all types of personal insurance, keeping the proposition simple is essential. In the UK, Vitality, part of Discovery Holdings (4 million customers), is the most prominent life & health insurance company that is offering clear incentives to bring in new customers, and improve health. Vitality is offering discounts of up to 100% (ie free) on monthly payments on an Apple watch based on the number of steps walked, plus discounted health insurance.
Whatever the incentives that nudge us into living healthier lives, it’s clear that the links between insurance and the increasingly detailed assessments of personal health that are becoming available will be tightly linked. The start ups that succeed will be those that find the solutions for the compelling opportunities that are tough to crack.
Matthew Grant eats five portions of vegetables and walks an averages 7,500 steps a day, although rarely at the same time. He has an appetite for technology, data and analytics solutions that can improve decision making in insurance, life, work and play.
Matthew founded Abernite in 2016 to work with growing companies, stimulating people and intriguing ideas and hasn’t had a dull day since.