TechExec: Nikolaus Sühr, CEO at KASKO
December 5, 2020 Greg Brown
In this post, we chat to Nikolaus Sühr, CEO at KASKO, a technology platform that allows clients to rapidly build and scale digital insurance propositions. To date, over 250,000 policies have been placed via the KASKO platform.
Greg: Tell us a bit about KASKO for those who don’t know you
Nikolaus: We provide our insurance and MGA clients with a technology platform that allows them to rapidly build and scale digital insurance propositions – a typical configuration time is 4-8 weeks. Our platform is wholly focused on decreasing the cost and time to develop products and our full service, ‘InsurTech as a Service’ model supports this ambition. In practice, this means that we work with our clients to initially help them identify when and where to inject technology and then work with them across the product development and launch lifecycle.
Technology-wise, our platform is modular and is built to the depth of an MGA. So whilst you will find micro services for rating engine, front-end, FNOL etc. within our platform, you will not find in-depth finance and accounting functionality. This is because our modular platform is designed to plug in to the core administration systems of our clients. It is worth noting that we haven’t aspired to rip and replace legacy – yes legacy is clunky, but it is also 20 years of functionality. We think it’s important to partner with the legacy system and to connect to their policy admin, claims, accounting and so on, and that helps us to get off the ground quickly and focus on the differentiative part, rather than re-inventing the wheel.
Use cases for our platform to date have been varied and range from simply quickly launching and updating products, through to assisting in legacy portfolio transfers. Our clients span 8 countries and to date, over 250,000 policies have been placed via the KASKO platform.
Greg: What led you to found KASKO?
Nikolaus: We initially founded KASKO with the ambition to build a B2B2C MGA focusing on affinity business. However, after founding the business, we increasingly realised that insurers are not just product providers, but also very sophisticated distributors of insurance – both directly and via partnerships. We felt this was something we couldn’t easily compete with and this led us to pivot towards the business we are today.
Greg: What were some of the problems you saw in old and new policy admin/core systems that you felt needed to be addressed?
Nikolaus: In terms of the problems we have observed in the current relationship between insurers and their technology platforms, there are three things that I’d point to:
Firstly, there is huge technology deployment risk today due to significant up-front cost and implementation timeframes. This means that insurers have to ‘buy the cat in the bag’ and hope that it works down the line. KASKO instead focuses on minimising the cost and timeframes associated with deploying its platform.
Secondly, there is an inward and backward focus when thinking about product development and technology. Too often, the focus is to fix what has already occurred, rather than think-forward and plan for the future. KASKO’s technology and full-service model helps our clients maintain a future-focus.
And finally, technology is sold to, and bought by, IT functions in insurance businesses. Traditionally, there is no concept of a ‘Product Owner’ at insurance companies – someone who can decide the trade-offs of technology platforms in the business setting, as well as the trade-offs between distributor requirements and insurance product design. These are intricately linked and optimising for one means ripple effects to the others. This means that technology platforms can be (and often have been) selected which do not solve the functional needs of those ‘at the coal face’. For this reason, at KASKO, we always try and work with the business to configure a solution that solves a real business need.
Greg: Could you tell us a bit more about what differentiates you from your competitors?
Nikolaus: I have two answers to this question – my stock RFP answer and my candid thoughts on our competition. The RFP answer is that we are much faster and more cost-effective to deploy than our competitors and that our modular solution is supported by a full-service option. The perhaps more interesting, candid answer, is that we don’t see other technology providers as competitors in the classical sense. Instead, we see the opportunities that could come from collaboration.
For example, imagine you are an insurer with a legacy policy administration system and an ambition for a greater digital capability. We see the opportunity to help avoid a costly rip and replacement exercise by layering our quote-bind, front-end and policy admin on top of the legacy technology. Now imagine that instead you are an insurer with a modern policy administration system. Here, there are other opportunities to work together – for example, KASKO can augment the purchase front-ends via our developer self-service front-end.
Greg: What can clients look forward to seeing from you in the future?
Nikolaus: We will continue to pursue our dual strategy of a full-service offering and modular deployment. This means that clients can engage us on a strategy, product development, business development or even MGA-setup basis prior to a technical implementation.
Furthermore, we are developing out our platform self-service capability and will increasingly make this available to clients. The initial focus – which is already live – has been on allowing clients to self-serve the design and management of the platform’s front-end. Overt time, more of the platform will become ‘open’ for self-serve.
The Oxbow Partners view
We first wrote about KASKO in our inaugural InsurTech Impact 25 report back in 2018. They had just launched over 20 products across 14 insurance partners and demonstrated an impressive speed and cost to market for launching new products – something which has clearly continued.
There is an ever-growing trend of insurers and MGAs – both large and small – considering their core platform strategies. For the large players this involves thinking about niche platforms for specific products, innovations or markets. For smaller players it is the realisation that the ‘household names’ are not the only viable options. We believe that KASKO is well positioned to capitalise on this accelerating trend.
Make sure to read more of our TechExec interviews with other senior executives at insurance technology firms and download this years InsurTech Impact 25 report.
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