5 Questions with Insurtech Influencers – Roger Peverelli
Today we’re sharing the conversation we had with Roger Peverelli, Co-founder of Digital Insurance Agenda. Roger is a recognised insurtech thought leader and often asked to match insurtech solutions with the challenges of insurers.
Looking at the insurtech space, he says that there are no signs of a shortage in capital - there is especially a lot of later-stage capital available in the market. We see a strong increase in growth investments, but a reluctance to invest in early-stage companies. Scale becomes essential for insurers as well as investors. Take a look at the rest of his thoughts below.
1. Please name three of the most promising insurtech start-ups in 2021. Why exactly these?
I can’t mention just three. I would like to expand on where we see the growth based on “The Pulse of Insurtech”, a study we did with our knowledge partner McKinsey, for which we spoke to more than 100 leading insurtechs and investors from around the globe.
First, we concluded that the pandemic triggered more demand for online, digital, and remote services. Incumbents are really retooling themselves. Everything from distribution tools to claims or back-office solutions to entire IT back-end systems will show an even stronger increase. This will continue to stay so.
We also concluded that insurtech is at the beginning of a new chapter. Starting on the demand side, we see that incumbents prefer to team up with more mature insurtechs who already have a track record, to help them transform or innovate critical business processes. This sort of coincides with what we see among investors. There are no signs of a shortage in capital - there is especially a lot of later-stage capital available in the market. We see a strong increase in growth investments, but a reluctance to invest in early-stage companies. Scale becomes essential for clients of insurtechs (insurers) as well as investors.
2. What is the biggest obstacle for insurance start-ups that holds back market disruption and meaningful change?
I think it is the size of insurers. Think of Allianz’s 85 million customers, AXA’s 105 million customers, or Ping An’s 215 million customers (and 580 million internet users). The scale benefits of these incumbents make them hard to beat. It makes it virtually impossible for start-ups to really disrupt the market all by themselves within the next decades. This does not mean that challengers are not important. The impact they have on market dynamics is on a different level. Their focus on new service levels has changed the expectations of customers. New entrants set new standards. Customers expect the traditional players to offer comparable innovative services as well. This makes incumbents realise that they really need to step up to the plate if they want to keep up.
Having said that, if the question was what is the biggest driver, instead of an obstacle, my answer would have been exactly the same - the size of insurers. Insurance start-ups can really create meaningful change if they work together with incumbents, leveraging that same size. In one scenario by offering their solutions to insurers and accelerating innovation in these big companies. In another scenario by leveraging the brand, distribution power, and capital of incumbents.
3. If you were to establish your own insurance start-up, which problem would you solve and why?
Across the globe, customers have the same kind of complaints about insurance firms. We looked into this and concluded that virtually all pain points are related to . All these issues are in scope of operational excellence and digital transformation programs of insurers. Many of these issues are solved already, Net Promoter Scores are improving everywhere. Consequently, the focus on solving frictions is simply not enough to create a sustainable competitive advantage. Winning new entrants not only solve pain points but have a truly distinctive new business model on top of that. Take Lemonade - they combine AI with behavioural economics into a new business model, and moreover, new value for customers.
Rather than looking for problems to solve I would focus on new opportunities. Think of all the new data streams, think of all that AI has to offer. It allows us to immerse in the daily life of customers and provide entirely new added value. Help them to stay out of trouble, in every sense. From optimising the cost of ownership of their car to supporting a healthy lifestyle to prevent all sorts of health issues, making sure they feel safe and pleasant in their home, etc. The big opportunity for entirely new revenue streams and profit models is in these kinds of adjacencies.
4. Which insurtech field will be the most impactful and attract funding in 2021?
Let me take a long-term view and also the perspective of an incumbent: where should insurers invest in with the longer term in mind? On the one hand, it is tempting to invest in insurtechs that will help to pick up the pace of digital transformation. At the end of the day, this is all just deferred maintenance. These investments are about catching up, repairing the past, but not about taking a leap forward, creating a new future.
If I were an insurer looking for investment opportunities, I would look beyond the immediate problems. Now and in the coming years, consumers and businesses will be looking for a new generation of products and services. The pandemic changed customer behaviour permanently. Insurers that also want to be successful in the next decade must understand these changes in customer behaviour and turn this understanding into propositions and experiences that strike the right chord. They should start thinking ahead and reimagining the way they can stay relevant. Health and connected living are two key areas insurers should tap into to reimagine customer relevancy and where they can provide everyday added value.
If I were an insurer, I would invest in insurtechs that help us to create platforms in these domains or to be part of such ecosystems. For example, in insurtechs that give us access to new data streams, AI and other capabilities, new customer propositions, and new ways to monetise all that data.
5. The future of insurance: what makes you hopeful, what worries you?
There is not that much that worries me. The future of insurance is looking bright - the changes in customer behavior, the new digital mindset in the boardrooms of insurers, all the new data streams and the advances in new technologies, and the significant funding availability for insurtechs. These four trends are taking place simultaneously and are enhancing each other. It’s a “perfect storm”.
We believe this offers all sorts of new opportunities, a “Next Level of Insurance Innovation in the Age of Data”. That is why we created an executive education course with the same title together with the University of St.Gallen Institute of Insurance Economics, the leading business school in insurance science, with a great line-up of academic and guest lecturers like Jonathan Larsen, the Chief Innovation Officer of Ping An, Leanne Kemp, the founder and CEO of Everledger; and Curtis Scott, the VP Customer Platform of Lyft. The opportunity to learn from the leaders. If you’re interested, check Digital Insurance Agenda or send an e-mail to request the brochure.
Roger Peverelli is an experienced keynote speaker at conferences and boardroom sessions, as well as a guest lecturer at various universities and business schools. He is the Co-founder of Digital Insurance Agenda, the first and largest insurtech community worldwide to connect insurance executives to insurtech leaders. Roger has authored worldwide bestsellers and numerous articles on the digital future of banking and insurance. He has helped a range of financial institutions to develop new business models and revenue streams, combining deep consumer insights and the latest technologies.
Follow Roger on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Don’t forget to check out our insurtech influencer stories with Mark Breading, Steve Tunstall, Spiros Margaris, Jan Kastory, Sabine VanderLinden, Ed Halsey, Rick Huckstep, Paolo Cuomo, and Robin Kiera!