James York is an insurtech influencer, the founder of Worry+Peace, a tech business and intermediary with an FCA license. With +33k hours of sector experience, he is a frequent commentator and advocate of what he calls #TeamInsurance. A member of the CII’s Broker Faculty Board, BIBA’s Innovation Working Group and POST magazine’s Digital Collective Board, he’s working closely with insurers and specialists across the sector to improve its reputation and opportunities.
1. Please name 3 most promising Insurtech startups, feel free to add your comments why.
Cuvva have a smart founder and a good team. Their UX is great and in a tough market, they’ve generated premium. Kodiak are a US startup and they solve a problem modern insurance probably doesn’t realise it has, one that’s super bad for customers – I like where they position themselves. As for our colleagues – one is pioneering drone insurance via an app and the other is making freelancer insurance services more personal, passionate and beautiful.
2. What is the biggest obstacle on the way of insurance startups to disrupt the market?
Two things, firstly it’s too hard to start a new micro-insurer model in the UK. I would suggest the government provide a 3-year micro-insurer incubator where new insurers have a capped premium limit and their adequacy is provided by QE. I don’t know if that constitutes state aid, but it’s one possible route around S2. Secondly, access to product is still not fluid enough.It's too hard to start a new micro-insurer model in the UK / James York @worryandpeace Click To Tweet
When we think of UK insurance, we often think of Lloyd’s of London. People also talk about the “London market”. But it’s not really a market that any intermediary can access and stock up on customer solutions – not like, say, Covent Garden flower market is for florists. UK insurance needs a bourse-like institution, a general insurance market where approved intermediaries are guaranteed agencies. I think there would be economics involved in that, but too often insurers cite high costs of operating agencies despite none ever backing their brand and ‘charging’ for one. I think that lack of an actual market for incumbents has a knock-one effect for startups.
3. Are you betting more on the innovation from insurance companies or from startups, why?
Both. Only through collaboration is innovation possible – for the reasons outlined above.
4. If you were to establish your own insurance startup what problem would you like to solve with that?
I have and we’re solving the problem of inconvenient choice. With so many solutions out there, we think there needs to be a site that is the go-to industry vertical to browse or manage your insurance needs as a consumer or business.UK insurance needs a general insurance market where approved intermediaries are guaranteed agencies @worryandpeace Click To Tweet
5. What is your biggest concern regarding insurance future?
That choice dies and consumers continue to subsidise excessive and unnecessary marketing budgets.
6. What will disrupt the insurance sector in 2017?
Well, without blowing our trumpet too loudly – we think our next update, code-named “Sherbet Pips” is pretty epic. I also see new underwriting capital allocation models coming to the table. But there are so many ways the market could be improved, it’s exciting to say – I have no idea! But we’ll be ready…
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