What goes to Vegas and doesn’t stay in Vegas


Las Vegas is normally the spiritual home of excess – but it was excesses of the more mundane, insurance variety that were in focus in early October at the inaugural running of the InsureTech Connect conference.  (Sorry, slightly laboured attempt at an insurance pun there.)

InsureTech Connect was, by all accounts bustling with delegates from both sides of the pond and has established itself as a “must-attend” event on the InsurTech circuit.  In fact, Oxbow Partners were going to host a panel but we had to cancel because we were (un)fortunately too busy on engagements.

Instead, we thought we’d ask people who did make it what they learned.

1. What was the most interesting startup that you saw there – and why do you think it’ll have an impact on the industry?

Rob Moffat, Partner at Balderton, the VC firm: Cover, just for the speed they are moving and learning.  Similarities to Trov in that you take a photo to insure something, earlier stage but much leaner and faster.

Dustin Yoder, CEO at Sureify, an InsurTech analytics firm: As a small business owner, I really like what I see with Embroker and Coverhound addressing SMB insurance. Truth is, although I know insurance relatively well, I hate applying for and managing liability, E&O and all the other business insurance.  If they can figure out distribution costs and how to address all the insecurities that arise when getting business insurance “online”, I think they could do well.

Dylan Bourguignon, Founder and CEO at so-sure, an InsurTech MGA: Risk Genius – using AI to evaluate the gaps among different policies to find the best policy portfolio fit.  Interestingly they are focusing on a B2B2C solution – helping brokers survive.


2. What do you think is going to be the hottest technology theme in the next 12 months?

Rob: Maybe a bit dull, but I think the biggest thing will be how working out what natively mobile user acquisition, servicing and claims actually look like. Also the battle between two schools of thought on insurance: The first is minimising the thought users need to give to it (Knip etc.), the second is trying to get people to care more about insurance (Trov etc.).

Dustin: “Digital, realtime, connected policies”, but the innovation will be in new products emerging from the capabilities IoT data creates. I strongly believe that insurers are already starting to create new products that are underwritten and adjusted based on realtime data, thus allowing engagement and better service. That means more insurance for connected homes and cars.

Dylan: IoT in the broad usage. Anything else will likely require more time to be properly implemented.


3. What was an interesting thing you learnt there?

Rob: ​The scale of Zhong An.  Sold 300 million policies in one day [yes, 300m in a day – ed.] on November 11th last year.  Founded 2013.

Dustin: Even with all the InsureTech hype and startup hustle, very little has been done by traditional insurers to holistically change insurance. What I walked away with is that 2017 & 2018 will be the years insurers start truly changing products, channels and pricing models…or the traditional insurers will die due to the most innovative pulling market share in record time. Insurers are all hungry for change, yet very few have taken even the smallest of steps to change. I left optimistic, and excited for the next few years believing the tipping point for big moves in InsureTech is upon us.

Dylan: Three things: 1) the US consumer insurance market is less mature than it is in the UK, 2) P2P is misunderstood & 3) regulation in China is reactive, meaning that the regulator only gets involved when there’s a problem rather than trying to protect customers from problems occurring in the first place.


Thanks to Rob, Dustin and Dylan for their thoughts.

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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 csandilands@oxbowpartners.com.

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