Insurer as a digital partner: Serge Corel, Wakam

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Formerly known as La Parisienne Assurances, 2020 has been a big year of change and innovation for Wakam. Serge Corel, Country Manager for the UK and Ireland, talks to Robin about topics including developing new parametric and usage-based solutions, and what Wakam is looking for from potential partners.

Robin: Serge, you joined Wakam in July. What’s your role in the company?

Serge: I am the Country Manager UK & Ireland. I was the first person appointed to such a role, but since then a second country manager has joined to cover the Italian and Spanish markets.

These recruitments show the ambition of Wakam to grow in Europe. We now have insurance licences in 13 European countries and premiums outside France represented 55% of the total premiums in 2019. In the same year, turnover outside Europe grew by 68% and profitability remained solid too.

My job is to oversee the business written by Wakam in the UK and Ireland, which is a core market for us. This involves building new partnerships, developing our existing relationships and ensuring that our services to those partners and their customers are best in class.

Robin: You changed the company name from La Parisienne Assurances in September, why?

Serge: We felt it was necessary to re-balance who we are and the way we talk about ourselves.  Today, more than half the revenue comes from outside France and we’re a completely digital insurer focussed on the future. The name Wakam aligns us much better with the reality of what we are today which is ambitious, international, digital and neatly positioned halfway between the traditional insurance sector and Insurtech. 

By the way, Wakam means “awakening” in Swahili which makes it more exotic - not that I’m saying that the company was asleep before!

Robin: What has been the focus of your innovation activities in 2020 so far?

Serge: Our big news is that we’ve launched a new platform. We’ve been developing a new end-to-end platform which was launched in September to coincide with the name change. 

This platform, which we built in-house, gives our partners the flexibility and speed of adoption they need to build and market products adapted to their own specific end-users' needs and do this in a “self-service” way because no contact is needed with our team. That leaves our partners free to determine the parameters that best meet their needs (deductibles, coverage, commission, etc) and then integrate through an API into their own customers’ journey.

Overall, our API’s are consulted more than two million times per week and host over 350,000 contracts in a private blockchain connected to a public protocol to timestamp and automate policy and claims management.

The self-service platform provides a fully digital onboarding process for our partners and there’s a plug and play platform to construct bespoke products in less than 6 weeks in known lines of business, and a portal which allows our partners to see and follow their technical results and premiums.

Robin: Have you also been innovating on the product side of things? 

Serge: The focus on the product side has been the development of parametric insurance and usage-based solutions specially adapted to new economy players.

For example, one of our parametric products, which is for flight delay insurance, uses a public API portal and a private blockchain to enable automated pricing, underwriting and claims settlement (using public, private & IoT indexes) at ultra-competitive transaction costs.

Robin: Were your innovation plans changed by Covid?

Serge: Many of our partners have seen their business impacted by Covid-19 and it obviously had a knock-on impact on us as their insurance partners. But the direction of our innovation plan has not changed, neither has the level of our ambition.

We’ve remained very active throughout. We’ve entered into 70 partnerships since the start of the year which is more than we did in all of 2019. And we still have many more in the pipeline!

Robin: What is your approach to working with insurtechs/start-ups?

Our business model is to provide digital-centric and tailor-made white-label insurance solutions to our distribution partners to meet the needs of their customers. 

We leave our partners to decide about the best customer journeys and deal with the distribution and management of the policies. We collaborate with the partners to develop the products and pricing once we’re all happy we provide our insurance capacity to support their approach. 

Robin: How does Wakam’s Fast Track Programme work? 

Serge: To support our partnership approach, we needed a methodology to facilitate quick and effective collaboration for product launches and testing. 

We have been working on a Fast Track Programme with a simplified digital onboarding process, designed to allow start-ups to launch a new product in three weeks in order to test customers appetite and learn fast. This will be accessible for written premiums volumes of less than €150k with Wakam, and less than €3 million written premiums globally.

Robin: Which insurtechs are you working with at present?

Serge: We have existing partnerships in the UK with Zego on fleet and mobility and By Miles on the private car insurance segment. Both have developed UBI motor insurance propositions with the use of telematics, which is one of our strategic priorities.

We also have a partnership with Canopy Rent for their new deposit insurance product targeting the rent generation. In other European markets, we’re working with companies like Luko, Qover, +Simple, and Inshur to name a few.

Robin: Why did Wakam join InsTech London?

Serge: Our ambition is to become one of Europe’s leading digital insurers and to enable transparent and impactful insurance. InsTech London is one of the most vibrant communities of insurtechs and technology companies in Europe. It is an ideal place to connect with fellow innovators and make links to potential partners and foster relationships.  

We are strong believers in the value of communities and like to lend our support to those that we think can help us fulfil our ambitions

Robin: What kind of companies/propositions would you like to connect with?

Serge: We work with traditional brokers, insurtechs, fintechs and e-retailers. Our risk appetite is quite varied around 5 P&C themes: Home, Professional, Mobility, Health & wellbeing, and Travel & hobbies.

We are particularly keen to work with companies that are developing new models and new insurance products based on technology and superior digital journeys. We have a preference for usage-based solutions and we are aiming to diversify outside motor insurance, which is currently the core of our portfolio in the UK.

Robin: What will be the focus of your activities going forward?

Firstly, to continue to grow Wakam in the UK market by working with our existing partners. We also want to establish new partnerships with companies who are working on usage-based insurance for the mobility, micro-mobility sectors and home sectors, insurance solutions for freelancers, and insurance products which can be embedded into other products and services.

Secondly, we will need to build out the necessary teams in the UK and strengthen our presence here. 

Robin: If you had one message for the members of InsTech London, what would it be?

Wakam is a genuinely digital insurer with the ambition of becoming the leading provider of digital insurance in Europe. We believe embedded insurance is at the core of the future of insurance in the 21st century, and insurance needs to adapt from insuring based on ownership to products based on usage. 

We are now part of InsTech London and are keen to get involved with other members of the community. We are very open to exchanging ideas and opportunities with anyone aligned with UBI and embedded models. They can contact me at serge.corel@wakam.com or through LinkedIn.

Wakam

Wakam is a digital insurer, operating in Lloyd's, that develops and distributes property and casualty insurance products to brokers, insurtechs, e-commerce players and retailers.

Go to wakam.com for more information.