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6 Questions with InsurTech Influencer Dr. Robin Kiera

Dr. Robin Kiera one of the most known insurtech and fintech thought leader and influencers. In his talks as well as behind the scene Robin is known for his clear and concise analysis, roadmaps with hands-on actions and large network that stretches around the world.

1. Please name 3 most promising Insurtech startups, feel free to add your comments why.

I am still very impressed by Lemonade, but my motives changed. At the beginning, their story struck me. Then their user interface and speed blew me away. Now I am excited about their success in raising significant funds. I keep fingers crossed for Daniel, Shai and their world-class team. Besides Lemonade there are a lot of impressive start-ups or incumbents pushing the boundaries. Wesure, the insurance platform integrated with Wechat by the Chinese Tech giant Tencent, excites me or Amazon - if we believe the rumors in the market - seemingly secretly recruiting for a large insurance practice in London. I personally work on the German iOS-App Ownly - so I am a big fan of that.

2. What is the biggest obstacle on the way of insurance startups to disrupt the market?

Google is the party pooper for insurtech start-ups. The exploding user-acquisition-cost increase the barrier for entrepreneurs and VCs to enter the market. With 10 Euro commission a year for a private liability insurance you need 10 to - in some cases - 40 years to generate a return on investment. So there is a huge pressure on the cross- and upselling. I know of full digital insurers who try to solve this problem by buying the portfolio of thousands of customers from insurers or brokers. This enables them to test their tech and products on them without spending tremendous budgets on Google Ads.

3. Are you betting more on the innovation from insurance companies or from startups, why?

I am betting on all: incumbents, insurtech start-ups, tech-giants, and reinsurers. Despite all voices proclaiming the end of insurance there will be incumbents still standing. Some will surprise us - positively and negatively. I also see startups as potential unicorns changing the market. I would like to add tech companies like Google, Facebook, Tencent, Alibaba and of course Amazon, that just seems to open large insurance offices in London. The most underestimated and most innovative players are the reinsurers. It seems that they have silently implemented exciting digital strategies. At a conference in San Francisco some time ago a senior manager of a direct insurer complained at my table to a c-suite of a reinsurer why they help the insurtech competition. The reinsurer answered: “Well, we don’t believe that you guys are going to make it. We build our customer base for tomorrow.” No need to say, that they did not become best friends on that conference anymore.

4. If you were to establish your own insurance startup what problem would you like to solve with that?

Due to my know-how of large corporations and fast-growing start-ups inside and outside the finance and insurance industry I prefer to support start-ups as advisor focusing on contributing to their product portfolio strategy, product strategy and product development process increasing their chances of success by transferring best practices from other companies and industries. My USP is setting up structures for a sustainable and stable way addressing all product-related complex issues. In the end, only a team of experienced experts, talents and smart investments is able to solve the problems of the industry - not one individual.

5. What is your biggest concern regarding insurance future?

Strong hierarchical corporate culture has generated in the insurance industry impressive successes. I believe the time of guidelines for corner offices and privileges due to seniority is coming to an end. I witnessed the founding of a corporate start-up with substantial investment. A 59-year-old buddy of the main investor - an insurer - was appointed one of the managing directors. The first question he asked after the official set-up was not about the business strategy, was not about the product portfolio and was not on the roadmap to success for the year to come. It was: “Does the company car guideline of the investors apply here too.” For him, it was all about corporate privileges not contributing and building. No wonder that project is going down. With failing projects and people like that insurers are wasting billions of Euro. I fear that this corporate culture and outdated management principles prevent innovation and in the end may cause downfalls of giants.

6. What will disrupt the insurance sector in 2018?

If I would be a CEO or CDO of an insurer, I would think about two things for 2018. First, I would think about the entry of Amazon in the insurance market and radically prepare myself for that. Second, I would scout ideas that could help me to save cost. Conducting meetings with powerful VR systems, for example, could reduce travel cost tremendously in the insurance industry. The large impact of IoT, smart devices and connected cars I see for the time after 2018.
About: Dr. Robin Kiera one of the most known insurtech and fintech thought leader and influencers. In his talks as well as behind the scene Robin is known for his clear and concise analysis, roadmaps with hands-on actions and large network that stretches around the world. For over 10 years Robin worked for large insurers and start-ups setting up structures and processes to increase the chances of success for innovation and product development. He founded Digitalscouting.de.