Insurance where it counts: new solutions to new risks

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?

10 of the best insurtech newsletters

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?

Instech London part of new Global Instech Alliance

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…

Friends with benefits: Instech London Partner Picks

– Matthew Grant

Monday 20th November, the last event of the year at the Steelyard for Instech London and a chance for some of the new faces of Insurtech to find their partners for 2018.

Are you an incumbent? Lookout, you’ve heard, “uberisation” will suck up your clients and cast you aside. How fast things change. Two of our presenters this week spoke about technology failures resulting in identity abuse and stolen personal data. Both happened at Uber.

“Fall in love with the problem not the solution..”

My favourite quote this week from Uri Levine co-founder of Waze. With so much data and high powered technology available at low cost it’s no surprise that there are too many start-ups with solutions hunting for problems. Insurtech has its share, but every one of our presenters this week had a clear idea of the problem they are solving. One platform, three ways of helping underwriters select their risks for commercial lines, another three for retail and one new insurance opportunity. The only froth at the Steelyard is on the beer.

Watching you, watching me

Over 80% of hacks come from stolen password and credentials. According to Richard Kirk, Chief Revenue Office for 4iQ there were an average of 230 data breaches a day last year and 4 billion records were exposed. Knowing when credentials have been stolen is a critical part of preventing misuse. The company’s proposition is straightforward. They roam the dark and dangerous corners of the web looking for evidence that their clients’ private data may have been compromised. Richard told us that too many of us are complacent about how we create and store our passwords. We are the weakest the link. Get a password manager. Companies such as LifeLock are offering web monitoring services bundled with identity theft insurance. 4IQ is working with insurers in the US. Now Richard is looking for UK partners.

Disrupting disruption

Wefox has become one of the most prolific insurance startups. Max Bauermeister and his colleagues want to make insurance buying digital and seamless. Currently they operate in Germany, Austria and Switzerland where only 9% of policies are sold directly, the rest are through brokers and tied agents. Wefox is not a big fan of disrupting this value chain. It sees the big opportunity as making brokers more efficient in dealing with their clients. The company automates the administrative work and helps schedule client facing meetings through its platform. Max claims that brokers working with Wefox are increasing their client meetings from only 2 – 3 to day, to up to 10 per day. Since starting in late 2014 Wefox has signed up 200,000 users and 700 brokers. Direct sales of insurance is where they see the next opportunity. Having secured $39m of funding (according to Crunchbase) Wefox is looking for brokers to support it’s launch into the UK in 2018.

Facing up to shortcomings in visual identify checking

Manuel Magalhaes of Digital Barriers spent the last 17 years working in national security. Digital Barriers provides security surveillance and protection systems to defence, security and law enforcement agencies in more than fifty countries. They’re now focussing on providing facial recognition software. Manuel has had personal experience of how the id system for a leading riding sharing company was compromised. The FT reported this weekend than in addition to the 50m customer records stolen from Uber last year “the loss of 600,000 US drivers’ licence numbers could be more serious, as they can be used in identity fraud”. Digital Barriers is rolling out what it claims to be a more robust technology for facial recognition to taxi companies and is exploring user-based insurance and insurance fraud mitigation. Available through an API.

The 10 second company risk score

Kanish Walia, CEO of Open Risk Exchange (ORX) has found that his rating of a company’s risk of becoming insolvent is valuable input for underwriting employers liability, tradesman policies, commercial motor and credit insurance. ORX score for UK registered business is available free (try it here). They make their money selling the API to companies that need high volume analytics such as banks, alternative finance or insurance companies. Machine learning analytics are run on publicly available data. Kanish revealed that a recent test showed that ORX data could outperform leading commercial credit agencies in predicting company failures. The company, which came out of Entrepreneur First in November 2015, has a handful of clients using it’s API and a POC with some insurers.

Plugging the gap in flood analytics

Insurdata has only been around 6 months. Jason Futers, CEO, is on a mission to provide more accurate information about the location and characteristics of buildings to insurers. Flood hazard data is becoming available at increasingly higher resolution, up to 5 metres horizontally in some parts of the US. The biggest constraint now is the quality of the information about the building. Recently one building record had an address that located it over 1km away from where it really was. I covered Insurdata in some detail a few weeks ago when they announced their $1.3m funding. For now, they are API only. This enables them to engage quickly with prospective clients, avoiding the need to build a front end. Insurdata is already generating revenue and has been able to run sample portfolios of up to 600 locations through its building data in seconds. Tools are being built to capture building data at source, both internal and external, and Jason outlined plans to move to the blockchain in the near future.

Your pictures are worth a thousand words

According to Richard Jones of Pixoneye, photos have become the new “social currency”. We have an average of 2,500 on our phones. Give someone your phone and they’ll know a lot about you. The audience seemed a bit unsure about that: “are you creepy or cool?” asked one person. Pixoneye was developed as a way to help companies match consumer products to users’ profiles, all with their permission and without removing the photos from the phone. Pixoneye, which received £3m in 2014, is open to opportunities for taking the technology into the insurance space.

Reputation Transfer

Kirill Slavin, CEO of Reputrans is an accidental Insurtech. His vision is to improve the way that personal ratings can be shared across different social sharing platforms. You’ve got a great rating on Ebay but no one wants to lend you their yacht? Turn to Reputrans. The company is building its “equivalence” algorithm to join up all the platforms you’ve been rated on. According to Kirill others have tried before using independent verification but failed. It’s a smart concept and builds on the idea that collaboration is better than domination, which looks to be the theme for 2018. Kirill started his company in January 2017 and yes, he too is looking for partners.

Cyber data behind the curtain

Daniel Ng of Cyber Owl had dug out research from 2001 predicting that cyber insurance would reach $3bn by 2005. 16 years later and we’re only just there. Why? He reckons it’s because the data on cyber risk is so poor. And even now most of it is irrelevant because the risk is changing so fast. Cyber Owl is designed to be deployed behind a company’s firewall (with their permission). It picks up information on network traffic and assigns a threat score to each asset in the network then combines this to give an overall, dynamic score. It’s early days for Cyber Owl but Daniel is confident he can change the pricing model for the industry.

It was a lively evening with lots of audience participation. Word must have got out. We ended the evening with more people in the audience than we started. Quite an achievement on a cold November monday night. Once again, videos of each speaker delightfully edited by Henry are here. Coming up on 14th December is the Instech London party. No tech, just talk this time. Tickets are going fast so sign up here.

We’re building out our plans for 2018’s monthly events. Let us know if you’d like to present. Sign up here to be kept updated on Instech London’s future events >> yes, sign me up!

Matthew Grant is a partner with Instech London and founder of Abernite. He’s helping insurers with problems, tech companies with solutions and investors with money to spend. Instech London has over 2,200 members representing over 700 companies and holds monthly evening events bringing insurers, start-ups and investors together.