TechExec: Tim Hardcastle, CEO at INSTANDA
April 11, 2020 Greg Brown
This is the first of our TechExec interview series. In this series we will be interviewing senior executives from insurance technology companies to understand how they are helping clients and their plans for the future. We will cover a range of companies from the industry stalwarts to the new-comers looking to make a mark on the industry.
Oxbow Partners is experienced in insurance technology strategy and vendor selection. If you are considering your technology options we can help. Please get in touch.
In this interview Greg Brown, Oxbow Partners’ Technology Lead, talks to Tim Hardcastle, CEO at INSTANDA. We promise that there is no Coronavirus content.
Product: Digital Policy Administration
HQ: London, UK
Live clients: 50+
Target clients: Carriers, MGAs
Investment: $19.5m in February 2020
Impact 25 Member 2018
Greg: For those that don’t know you, can you briefly introduce INSTANDA?
Tim: We are a digital policy administration platform built because of our core belief that insurance can and must change for the better. We provide a seamless and straight-through experience for customers, businesses and our clients. Our platform is designed to be ‘no code, allowing business users to build and launch products both quickly and efficiently without the need for IT intervention. We’re live in 12 countries across 2500 products created.
Greg: What is the story behind INSTANDA?
Tim: Much like other startup founder stories, it was much harder and took a lot longer than we thought.
I was working at Hiscox as the CIO. I was new to insurance. Despite Hiscox being perceived as one of the market leaders in technology, I quickly realised that insurance technology is far from amazing. Hiscox were doing their best to deal with the challenges but there were many gaps in the underlying technology and how it was architected.
So, determined to find a better, more reliable route for insurers to drive their businesses forward and create an insurance industry fit for the future,
my co-founder and I gave up the comfort of corporate life and set up a technology consultancy. We spent two years working with clients to test, and eventually prove our hypotheses on market need. We also invested the consulting income in to building the platform.
The journey has had its lumps and bumps. We initially partnered with a third party tech firm. That failed spectacularly. We then hired the wrong people – a team of technologists more interested in the beauty of the technical tools rather than the laser focus on delivering to user needs. Third time lucky.
We then spent a lot of time on the design philosophy – how to abstract the insurance configuration away from the code base. At the time this felt rather indulgent, but we’ve not looked back. Without that we couldn’t provide a truly business configurable platform.
Greg: How are things looking today?
Tim: We couldn’t be more pleased with our progress. We started out targeting innovation budgets in MGAs as they had the reputation for agility and innovation. We quickly realised that larger carriers were actually better placed to take on these types of projects. Our client base is growing into larger and larger carriers. This clearly helps create confidence that INSTANDA is a credible option.
We’re also expanding heavily into new areas, for example Life and Health. As well as new countries such as US and Japan.
We’re also increasingly being used by clients as an end-to-end platform, not just a digital distribution platform. Clearly, we’re not yet in the place where we’re going to be the full stack platform for a $5Bn carrier, but we’re certainly heading that way.
We also see the carrier attitude to system replacements changing. The desire for full stack rip and replace is waning, particularly given the challenging ROI. Carriers are investing more in building digital ecosystems, which plays to our strengths.
Through the use of agile technology, we truly believe that INSTANDA is opening a new pathway towards a more streamlined, reliable and efficient way of doing business. A pathway that is based on a culture of continuous improvement for the benefit of companies, teams and customers alike.
Want to know more about technology ecosystems and what this could mean for you business? Read more in our recent blog post ‘The rise of technology ecosystems‘.
Greg: What does your recent $19.5m Series A funding mean for the future of INSTANDA and your clients?
Tim: We’re very excited. It’s been a long journey to get here but it puts us in a fantastic place to grow capability and expand into new international markets in the United States, Europe, Asia and Latin America following several years of triple digit growth.
We’re looking forward to being able to bring better insurance to more clients and businesses around the world. It will also allow us to make the platform better too. For example we’re going to build a full digital claims capability building on our simple, FNOL focused, claims module.
We’re deepening our partnership network too. For example we’re launching the world’s first insurance application available via the azure marketplace. Anyone with an azure logon can access the INSTANDA platform.
Finally we’re extending our employee benefits offer. This will allow employers to offer a broader marketplace of insurance products to their employees.
The next 24 months are going to be an exciting time for INSTANDA and our clients.
We’re also particularly pleased with our choice of financial partner. I can’t give the team at Assembly Partners enough plaudits. They are emotionally and strategically invested in us, not something you can say about all VCs. They also really understand insurance and the dynamics of insurance technology businesses. Sales cycles can be long so capital needs to be patient.
The Oxbow Partners view
We have been following the progress of INSTANDA since the early days. It’s great to see them develop and grow.
We also like their ‘business-led configuration’ model, allowing clients to make changes to products and pricing without reliance on technical resource. This puts control in the hands of those that directly derive the value. Clearly this needs robust governance and change control around it to avoid over enthusiastic business users making undesired changes.
The recent investment is also a clear demonstration of strong backing. Many ‘InsurTech’ policy administration systems, whilst compelling, fall down when robustly assessed by procurement and finance teams. This backing will help to alleviate any concerns of choosing the platform.