Bitesize InsurTech: Coya


Coya are a full-stack digital P&C insurer based in Germany.

The business was founded in 2016 by an experienced team led by Andrew Shaw (former CIO of Fintech business, Kreditech), Peter Hagen (former CEO of Vienna Insurance Group) and Sebastian Villaroel (data and IT specialist, previously at Allianz and Kreditech).

The business has raised $10m in seed funding, assembled a sizeable team (>30 employees) and filed for a license from the German regulator. Reinsurance capacity is provided by SCOR.

Coya plan to go live in 2018 and will initially focus on traditional products (household and personal accident cover) before moving into more innovative covers (private cyber and micro-insurance policies). The business is targeting millennials (who isn’t) with a mobile and web-first insurance experience.

Max Bachem, Coya’s VP Strategy and Operations, tells us the business was founded following the usual frustrations with existing insurance propositions: a lack of personalisation, inflexibility and limited digital capability.

Coya’s proposition to customers will be supplemented with additional services made possible by non-legacy tech and extensive use of data. For example, they will offer a ‘Risk Guardian’ that notifies customers when a new, relevant risk arises that they may require cover for (e.g. a new cyber risk Coya have discovered through monitoring of 3rd party data sources).

Similar to fellow German full-stack startup, Ottonova (see Bitesize here), the firm will not use brokers and agents to distribute, instead preferring digital channels that include:

  • Digital direct (via web or mobile)
  • Targeted marketing (paid for)
  • B2B2C distribution (partnering with businesses in specific target ecosystems)

The Oxbow Partners view

A clear InsurTech trend in 2017 has been the emergence of the “full stack” startup – and interestingly most of these have been in Germany (Ottonova, Element, One).

The Oxbow Partners “house view” on this model is not yet fully developed. Owning the full stack gives businesses more control (but not total control given the importance of reinsurance) over the proposition – but this must be counterbalanced with the greater set-up costs.

Also important is the public perception. At a recent Deutsche Bank conference, Andrew Brem, Aviva’s Chief Digital Officer, said that research indicated that consumers attach disproportionate importance to the solidity of the brand in insurance. That being the case, to what extent does the “modernised” startup proposition outweigh other consumer considerations?

And a final thought on customer-centricity. The sentiment behind the “Risk Guardian” is exemplary – but to what extent is it economic? We frequently talk to established insurers about features that startups are piloting. Feedback is invariably: “tried that, we lost money”. The billion dollar question for insurers is delivering customer centricity with economics that work.


This post has been updated to reflect that fact that SCOR (and not its Channel Syndicate) is providing the reinsurance capacity for Coya.  We apologise for any confusion.

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About the author

Chris Sandilands, ACII is a Partner at Oxbow Partners. Chris advises (re)insurers and brokers on a range of strategy topics and M&A. Chris started his career as a D&O underwriter at Munich Re, before joining Oliver Wyman, the consulting firm. You can reach him at