Notes from a Startup in the London Insurance Market
Being a startup in the insurance business often feels like being a first-time footballer in the Champions League.
The insurance industry, by its very nature, is extremely conservative and competitive, which is why a company must be very careful before adopting the title of “startup”. However, there are a number of positive attributes to being a startup in this industry. It gives an immediate impression of innovation, conveying the message that you intend to be disruptive and that you plan to grow rapidly. So when Insly talks to talented professionals, investors, and the FinTech community, we often choose to call ourselves a startup.
In my position, I frequently talk with clients and partners, whether they are insurance brokers and agents from London or around the globe. However, to retain their respect and confidence, I need to use more than the fact that Insly has established itself in the industry, with more than 70 brokers using our services for a number of years. Granted, Insly has over 25 employees and has already made an agreement with the experienced team at ABC Insurance Brokers, but that isn’t enough. You need to demonstrate results and ambition.
One of our fundamental goals when we started Insly was to grow quickly, so we chose to apply to a startup accelerator in order to boost our business. Obviously, choosing the best accelerator was a crucial decision, so we applied to Startupbootcamp FinTech, knowing that insurance was an essential part of FinTech in London. I have personally worked in the insurance industry for the past 15 years, in which time I realised that in London, insurance is nearly as important as red telephone boxes and the Queen. My extensive experience has also led me to believe that insurance is directly involved in London’s Fintech scene.
However, when I arrived in London, I found that the reality of the situation was quite different. When you walk around the City of London, you still meet a great number of insurance professionals (wearing their obligatory suits and ties), but in London’s FinTech community you rarely find any insurance professionals.
Why is it like this?
Let’s be honest – insurance is not a particularly sexy or interesting business. Generally, neither is banking, but there are some elements of banking (for example personal finance, remittances and cryptocurrencies) that are a bit more attractive to creative minds. The startup sector has identified certain areas where disruption is possible and has begun entering those narrow niches to challenge the established order of the banking industry.
However, the only way to cause a disruption in the insurance industry is to provide unique, valuable services to established insurance companies, but as a startup, it can be very difficult to get your proverbial “foot in the door”. It will likely take you two months just to secure an initial meeting with a major insurance company, and you probably won’t even meet with the right person. Furthermore, they probably won’t understand what you’re offering and will hold back on trusting you.
That being said, there are exceptions to this case. Insly is not the only insurance startup in London, although many of the others have not yet been launched, and many of the founders of these companies do not even have experience in the insurance sector. Inevitably, they are also considerably younger than the insurance market average. These are the components that make for disruptive, agile, and profitable startups.
In my opinion, the London insurance market is in a prime position to change the established insurance industry and begin a disruption that could quickly be exported to the rest of the globe. I will go into more detail about how this process could (and likely will) happen in my upcoming blog posts.