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Insurance is today’s headline act

Hotwire Global

Ever thought you’d see 1,000+ people @TheO2 for anything but #rockandroll, #insurtech is today’s headline act” – last week’s Startupbootcamp Demo Day summed up neatly by Nigel Walsh, Deloitte partner and programme mentor. Sabine VanderLinden was Master of Ceremonies for the afternoon whipping up enthusiasm around Startupbootcamp’s mission to fuse the traditional and the new to shape intelligent insurance. Becky Downing from BuzzVault followed with a strong opening presentation, speaking passionately about the need to redesign insurance. She argued that the commoditisation of insurance is the reason that the sector is ruled by a meerkat, an opera singer, and a man in hot pants who feels EPIC.

To quote Emerge Analytics, “the solutions to the world’s biggest problems are in the data” – a theme that appeared throughout the presentations as the cohort explained how they could capture, process and make sense of information. For Track Active and AIMO, this centres on personal movement data, to allow personalised self-assessment, improve underwriting accuracy, and help prevent fraud. I suspect this isn’t the last we’ve seen of the growing overlap between the Insurtech and HealthTech sectors. Meanwhile, PORT is focused on regulation, and is busy making it easy for companies to acquire, store, and manage personal information in a legally compliant way, ahead of the upcoming GDPR regulation.

For me, some of the most compelling presentations were those that were focused on a very niche audience – at least in the first instance, as the business finds its feet. Take Tikkr, who are providing on-demand, short-term insurance for specific ‘active moments’ – starting with the 14m uninsured surfers across the UK and EU. Or Insure A Thing, who are very specifically targeting the cycling community, urging them to ‘join the ride’ and try this new breed of crowd insurance. This idea of community is key here, asking ‘pool participants’ to validate the proposed value of each bike, and each pay a small fraction of the cost of claims made within the group. From a marketing standpoint, I see great value in this narrow community targeting – huge potential for laser focused partnerships and promotions, as well as a content strategy that is completely aligned to the needs and interests of prospective users. You only have to look at Insure A Thing’s Twitter feed to see this in action.

Another company with a single-minded mission is Aerobotics, who are using drone tech in the agricultural industry to help farmers farm more efficiently, and make it easier for insurers to price and assess damage. CropTech, anyone?

But away from physical goods, what about experiences, emotions, dreams? For the Spanish team at Sharenjoy, “money is an easy and lousy substitute for an experience” – so traditional insurance won’t cut it. This team stood out with their storytelling to set the scene, and a clever link into Ed Sheeran as an example, who has been back in residence at the O2 from yesterday.

Each entrepreneur was introduced by the teams’ respective Startupbootcamp partners and mentors. These charming short videos each had an outtake at the start, bringing a real sense of the camaraderie of the programme to life, and humanising the impressive list of seasoned industry experts that are guiding and supporting these early stage companies. On the spot to compare their ‘mentee business’ to a superhero or fictional character, responses ranged from Hermione Granger, to Magneto, to Spiderman, to Forest Gump.

I wonder if CBien’s prediction will come true – can InsurTech transform insurance from necessary evil to guardian angel?