4 facts you didn’t know about insurtech founders

• Tim Kunde • Keine Kommentare • 

Everyone talks about insurtech. And it’s no secret that the insurtech space gets more and more diverse. The insurtech idea spreads throughout the whole world with an impressive result: Since summer 2016 we count over 500 startups changing insurance industry with their digital skills. If you take a deeper look at the most important insurtechs, you will find amazing results. You are curious about? So please find out what insurtech has to do with beards and other impressive results on our following infographic.

The majority of the insurtech startups have a lot of things in common. Although they provide very different services. There are a lot of informations about the insurtech scene on the web: It’s all about insurtech sectors, customer service, venture capital or technical backgrounds. But still no one discovered the interesting facts that we found here. Friendsurance is always curious and we are very interested in connecting with others. Because the best you can do as a startup is learn from each other and be inspired by your competitors and fellows.

My team and I took a closer look on the most interesting insurtech startups and their founders and got some surprising results. We proudly present our conclusions in a little infographic. Check it out and feel free to share your thoughts with us about beard styles and insurance pros.


Viva la Insurtech! My impressions from Insuretech Connect 2016

• Tim Kunde • Keine Kommentare • 

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending Insuretech Connect in Las Vegas. My team obviously thought I spent my time gambling away investor money, but I really spent 12 hours straight per day listening to the latest insurtech discussions and speed-dating people from all over the industry in 15 minute slots. This all happened in this huge, unglamorous convention center. But while the venue maybe was not unique, the content definitely was: the amount and quality of attendees really was unparalleled and for the first time ever, I actually really felt insurance on the one hand and tech on the other hand mingle in a way that made it actually feel like one crowd. In this context, I’d like to share a couple of observations.


The rise of corporate venture capital

Not more than 2 years ago, corporate venture investors who were up to discuss tickets in the seven to eight digits could be counted on a hand – even missing a finger. Now practically all insurance players with regional let alone global ambition have invested heavily in their venture capital arms, some with impressive track records and experienced staff hired from outside, some with a rather experimental approach sponsored by line managers. It will be interesting to see whether insurers will do a better job countering disruption than (retail) banks have been able to and to what degree corporate venture had an impact.

Peer-to-peer? What peer-to-peer?

In slides depicting which technologies break the insurance value chain where, peer-to-peer is typically displayed as a separate horizontal layer. Having a consultant background, I can tell you this usually translates into „I have no idea where“. At the current point of the discussions a universal notion of peer-to-peer does not exist. Is it centered around direct risk sharing of policy holders (Friendsurance, Guevara, So-Sure), social redistribution of overall profits (Lemonade), or even crowdsourced claims regulation? What can be stated: Outsourcing parts of the value chain to the crowd/peers needs to beat the existing system by more than just a margin, and should be part of an overall improvement of the user experience. We will see very interesting results within the next year whether peer-to-peer can do that job and where.


Blockchain becomes mainstream – but is still far from widespread

Only a year ago, when the discussion headed towards blockchain people bekame awkwardly silent and just nodded along, the concept for most being as tangible as the Loch Ness monster in November mist. Now more and more real applications are known, further spurring imagination (or fear, depending on who you talk to). Suddenly the born-on-the-blockchain insurance does not seem so far away. My guess for the next year: Still a lot of discussion, but the hype will have cooled down because other areas are easier to disrupt while keeping the existing insurance core.

China is a different league

I had the pleasure of getting to know Wayne Xu, the COO of ZhongAn Insurance, who shared a number of fascinating thoughts on their business. ZhongAn’s main investors are the absolute heavy weights of China: Alibaba, Tencent and PingAn. And apparently ZhongAn is doing a good job of leveraging this network: up to date, they have sold around 4 billion policies, as Wayne shared during a panel discussion. When you hear other insurance startups talk about their customer traction in thousands, maybe sometimes hundreds of thousands, then this number is absolutely mind blowing. ZhongAn so far has created this traction through selling low premium policies in a range of adjacent segments, e.g. return-delivery insurance. They recently started to expand also into more strategic segments, such as car insurance. It will be exciting to see how they are able to also unravel these more traditional segments.

It’s all just beginning

Insuretech Connect was great and the place was buzzing. However, most of the projects that created excitement launched just recently and still have to set their mark. But with more and more attention, also more money and talent will pour into insurtech and set in motion a virtuous circle.


6 things that insurance companies can learn from insurtechs in 2016

• Tim Kunde • 3 Kommentare • 

Digital innovation in insurance is in its infancy, compared to other industries. It’s so far driven by a small number of so called “insurtechs”. These companies, usually startups, have only just begun their journey and given the size of the industry, their impact is still modest. I would like to share some thoughts about what insurance companies can learn from insurtechs already now, based on 6 years of running an insurtech startup and closely interacting with over 100 carriers in Germany and beyond.

6 things insurtech startups can learn from insurance companies

1. Taking risk as an organization

Big organizations don’t like taking risks. They have a working business model and any deviation from it is usually judged by the potential downside, not the upside.
In a startup, this is different. The whole undertaking by definition is risky, and the reason to exist for a startup is to endorse that risk and be prepared to make mistakes, learn and improve – all of that at the fastest pace possible, on a company level as well as on a personal level.

2. Rewarding risk on a personal level

The reason why big organizations usually don’t take risks is that, while it would make sense for the organization, it doesn’t make sense for the individuals behind it. Too easily can your career take a bad turn if you are the guy who screwed up a project.
So, implementing the right culture is the key to getting more innovative, far more important than the usual announcement to “invest 100 Million Euros in digitization in the next 5 years”.
In very rough terms, I suggest to distinguish two steps in getting to the right culture.

Step 1: Don’t punish failed experiments

Imagine a researcher getting fired because a set of new experiments failed – science wouldn’t get very far. The same is true in corporations. If top management wants people to try new things, the career of those people shouldn’t be at jeopardy for it.

Step 2: Encourage intrapreneurship

While step 1 can happen on a case by case basis, step 2 needs a broader shift in corporate culture, where experimenting, failing and improving become more generally accepted, ultimately getting mindset and incentives closer to that of innovative startups and thereby creating “intrapreneurs”.

Startups usually attract the right kind of people for taking risk. They come not because the startup name is great for the CV, or because the job is secure for the next 20 years, they come because they want to change stuff.

The startup’s job is to foster this mindset, and that’s one of my most important tasks at Friendsurance. Apart from implementing the right culture, we also give share options to every employee to make sure everybody can participate in the company’s appetite for risk.

3. Thinking digitally

What insurtechs do is to look how people and digital services can work together to provide the best overall products and services imaginable. We have a more less precise understanding what people are capable of. But the things that machines are capable of change on a daily basis. Only an organization with a digital mindset will keep up with these developments and make sure they are translated into a better experience for your customers.

4. Working digitally

For some things, there is no debate whether a human or machine is better. Sending data is such a thing: a machine is just so much better and faster. And yet, it is incredible to see the mountains of paper that reach us every day, mountains of policies, invoices and other documents that could easily be sent via an API.

Working digitally in insurance is challenging …

Traditional carriers neither have the technical resources, nor the general conviction to change this very soon. We even know of a number examples where APIs do exist, but the people in charge just don’t see the need to use them, because the current paper system is working somehow.

Insurtechs are building up their organizations and their processes digitally from the start. This will become an enormous advantage in the future, not only in terms of cost, but also in terms of service quality and ultimately in customer satisfaction.

5. Focusing on the customer

Whether it’s a service delivered by a person or a machine, the ultimate purpose is always to serve your customers. If you want to understand if you are doing a good job in that, who else should you talk to than your customers themselves.

Friendsurance started its journey with a great idea: Peer-to-Peer insurance. But it wasn’t until we started to systematically turn to our customers that we really started being successful, everything before that was theory.

And that is why:

  • We run user tests on a weekly basis.
  • We design our processes around a set of ever-evolving personas.
  • We measure the NPS (net promoter score) along the customer lifecycle.
  • We have an inter-departmental team that meets every week to discuss the results of these efforts, potential solutions and open questions.

In insurance companies, services and products are often produced in the silos of the different departments: actuaries, product managers, sales people. There is no holistic view for the customer. The result: according to a representative study by Emnid in Germany, insurance is seen as the least customer friendly industry of all.

6. Solving problems in iterations

The core of Friendsurance’s Peer-to-peer approach is still the same as it was in the beginning: people connect in small networks to support each other in case of a claim.

Everything around this concept, however, has evolved …

  • how we communicate our concept,
  • how we build up customer relationships,
  • how we integrate with our insurance partners.

If we had continued with the original set-up, we’d long be gone. It’s only because of continuous iterations and problem solving that we got to where we are today.
This is often different in big organizations: a project is planned with a certain setup and resources, it’s executed according to plan, and then it’s evaluated. Depending on the result the topic is continued or not. The problem with this is that throughout the project phase, not a lot of adjustments are possible, so unless the setup was close to perfect in the beginning – and it rarely is – the chances of success are slim.

The “lean startup” method

With smaller test setups and faster iteration cycles, the chances of producing a minimum viable product (MVP) become much higher. This approach is known as “lean startup” method, and there is a bunch of literature around it. While from my experience, sticking to the exact methodologies is less important, the general mindset is of incredible value.

My conclusion: Insurtech startups do not have all the answers but are best positioned to find them

This list could easily be expanded. The general point is this: the digital transformation has reached insurance, as one of the last big offline industries. There are big barriers to entry, but they are not insurmountable. And while insurtech startups do not have all the answers and the solutions yet, they are best positioned to find them.

We have only seen the beginning of the amount of talent and money that will pour into this industry. Companies who think they can still wait a couple of years until they start to embrace digital innovation will cease to exist 10-15 years from now.

And while of this sounds very dramatic, the overall picture is very bright: new markets will be discovered, new products and services created. There is a huge potential to do more business and at the same time create a much more customer friendly industry.

10 opinion leader in insurtech to follow on twitter

• Tim Kunde • Keine Kommentare • 

The worldwide insurtech sector booms and gets more and more divergent. How to deal with the mass of daily messages and upcoming trends? Who gives the best overview, features the important insights and is always at the cutting edge of insurtech innovations? Friendsurance CEO Tim Kunde presents his Top 10 insurtech opinion leaders really worth following.

Insurtech Opinion Leader Twitter

1. Florian Graillot, @Fgraillot

Florian is a VC Investor at AXA Strategic Ventures. Starting his career as a strategic consultant at Boston Consulting Group in 2007 he became Investment Manager at Affine, a French-listed property company. Before joining AXA Ventures he worked for the Paris based VC fund Newfund.
Florian twitters about #Startup, #VC #FinTech #InsurTech #Blockchain #AXA.

2. Matthew Wong, @mlcwong

Matthew Wong
Matthew works as senior research and data analyst at the New York-based structured data startup CB Insights. He creates data-driven analysis and research reports on private company financing, exit and performance trends.

In November 2015 he launched the “Insurance Tech Insights”, a data-driven research publication and newsletter which covers the latest news about innovative technologies, companies revolutionizing distribution, underwriting, claims management and the insurance value chain.

3. Nektarios Liolios, @nekliolios

Nektarios Liolios
Nektarios is Co-Founder and Managing Director of the Startupbootcamp Fintech in London. SBC is the leading innovation program and accelerator in the financial industry which provides funding, mentorship, office space and access to a global VC-network for up to 10 special selected international Fintech startups. He is driven by entrepreneurship and “desire to transform the financial industry”. Calls himself a “global nomad, travel geek and sneaker freaker”.

4. Insurance Technology Daily, @InsTechDaily


The Twitter Channel Insurance Technology Daily covers the latest insurtech news around the Fintech and Insurance Industry. Shares Tweets about #instech #fintech #insurtech #insurancetech and #insdisrupt

5. Rick Huckstep, @rickhuckstep

Rick Huckstep

Rick is a Strategic Advisor, Keynote Speaker, Adviser and Consultant in the area of digital insurance innovation. As European MD for The Digital Insurer he published over 40 research notes in 2015 on the rising insurtech innovations. The Digital Insurer is an online forum for professionals interested in digital insurance topics around the world.
Tweets about #digital #Insurance #innovation #coach #writer #speaker #investor #blockchain.

6. Oliver Ralph, @oliver_ralph

Oliver is an Insurance Correspondent at the Financial Times and twitters on his own channel about insurtech, Insurance Industry News, Digital Insurance Innovation and Fintech.

7. InsurTechnews, @insurtechnews


On Insurtechnews you get breaking news, insights and analyses from the area of digital insurance. The Twitterfeed of Insurtechnews keeps Insurers, Distributors, Tech Plavers, Investors and Insurance Sector Stakeholders updated with the latest relevant insurtech trends.

It also offers a weekly Wednesday Newsletter that keeps you posted on breaking news, trends and events. The project InsurTechNews is designed by a international startup based in Milan, Italy, that provides digital services for the Insurance Industry. Tweets around #insurance #digital and #insurtech trends.

8. Axa Lab, @AXALab


AXA, a French based insurance company boosting innovation in the insurance sector. AXA creates an ecosystem of structures dedicated to investment and innovation with the AXA Lab, Kamet (an incubator), the AXA Factory (an accelerator) and AXA Stratetic Ventures (venture capital fund). AXA Lab is the so-called trend-detector based in the heart of the leading technology enterprises in Silicon Valley and Shanghai. With @AXALab they share tweets around #InsurTech #Fintech and all events, innovational trends and news out of the AXA and InsurTech laboratory.

9. Mundi Lab, @MundiLab


Mundilab is the insurtech acceleration program of the Munich RE that facilitates the go-to-market of startups with solutions for the insurance industry. It’s a partnership between Munich RE (worldwide leading risk carrier) and Alma Muni Ventures (Venture Capital firm focused on technology-based companies).

10. Bought By Many, @boughtbymany


Bought By Many is an insurtech startup offering a free but members-only service to help you find a special insurance out of the ordinary. Therefore it encourages groups of people with specific similar insurance needs together to get insurance in order to become cheaper policies. Bought By Many was awarded with Fintech Innovation of the Year 2016.

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