Bitesize InsurTech: ONE
August 25, 2017 Chris Sandilands
ONE is a startup composite insurer operating in German-speaking Europe.
ONE’s CEO is Stephan Ommerborn, formerly an executive board member in Zurich’s life business in Switzerland. Whilst still at Zurich, he saw WeFox, the German online insurance agent, successfully launch and innovate around the front-end insurance experience. But, as Stephan says, “it took WeFox about 18 months to realise that incumbent insurers couldn’t follow-up with a nice back-end fulfilment process”.
The take-away was that someone had to set up a new, legacy-free insurance carrier – and that’s what Stephan left Zurich to do.
The business launched in 2016 and has raised $33m. This includes the portion required as solvency capital by the Liechtenstein regulator, where ONE’s carrier is regulated. The investor base (Salesforce and a number of continental European VCs) is identical to the WeFox investor base – investors see ONE as an opportunity to turbo-charge WeFox’s proposition, as well as making money stand-alone.
Munich Re receives special mention from Stephan in our discussion. They have been “extremely helpful” as reinsurers, providing both reinsurance capacity, data & analytics support, and a supervisory board member. (Incidentally, this partnership is being run out of Munich Re’s reinsurance coverage team in Germany, not Digital Partners – link to Bitesize.)
The business is on track to launch in September 2017 with a home and personal liability product in Germany. They then plan to move into life products in Germany before expanding into Switzerland and Austria.
The name is a reference to the business’s ambition to create a unified customer proposition. Whilst there are regulatory (and practical) reasons why you can’t combine a motor and life policy, Stephan notes that “the insurance industry could be much better at bundling policies” into a single customer proposition.
The Oxbow Partners view
The business has built its own technology stack and aims to settle 60% of claims without human involvement. Naturally, some comparisons will be made with Lemonade (view our coverage). Indeed, the company published a blog post recently called “Will ONE outgrow Lemonade right from the start? Yes!“. It’s a punchy read.
Culturally, there will be differences between ONE and Lemonade. For example, Lemonade advertise records for the speed to pay claims, whereas Stephan is more keen to emphasise that ONE has spent a lot of time establishing service level agreements with their claims partner, established TPA Schweitzer. It’ll be interesting to see how this approach resonates with target customers (Millennials, of course).
One challenge that ONE shares with Lemonade is search engine visibility. Whilst Lemonade competes for clicks against Beyoncé (we won’t assume that our readers all know that her latest album is called Lemonade), ONE Insurance needs to find a way of popping up in search results before things like “hole in one insurance”. Stephan points out that this particular problem won’t be relevant for his German-speaking customers – but in any case a digital marketing team is lined up for launch.