Ten insurtech start-ups to watch in 2018 - part two

IX Ledger, Parasol, Stable, Thing Co and Wagel among ten insurtech start-ups to watch in 2018

  • A disruptive cross-border Blockchain entrant
  • An adventure sports specialist
  • A Barclays entrepreneur of the year shaking up agriculture insurance
  • Insure the Box founder pitches new telematics proposition
  • A pet insurance start-up involving an Apprentice contestant   

Today we feature a second quintet of businesses with their eye on the disruption prize, all of which will be worth watching out for as the year progresses.

Yesterday in part one of this blog we learnt how to protect your business from cyber risk through artificial intelligence-based assessment, found cover for freelancers, helped customers cover flights after cancellation and saved the planet while going on holiday amoung others. Here are five more start-ups we think are worth watching.

I X Ledger

Pitch: An alternative marketplace for insurance based on Blockchain. Our mission is to transform the way the market trades and manages insurance products.

The company was originally known as Insure X, but decided the name was ‘confusing’ as it didn’t clarify that it was using Blockchain technology, so it changed it to I X Ledger in August.

Since then, it has sealed a deal with Gen Re to develop solutions for life and health insurance utilising the Ethereum platform and Fidentia X, the self-proclaimed world’s first marketplace for tradable insurance policies.

I X Ledger is currently headquartered in London, with growing interest across the US, Europe and Asia.

It was created by a team with fintech, insurtech and internet backgrounds. These include founder and CEO Ingemar Svensson, who worked two years for Mitsui Sumitomo; co-founder and US president Cristina Dolan, an MIT Media Lab alumna; and co-founder and EMEA president Mikael Olofsson, who was featured here last year with Start-up Bootcamp participant Tikkr, a business he left in June last year to help create I X Ledger.


Pitch: Wander Safely! Get insured on-the-go for all your favourite activities

We’ve had Brolly and Anorak, now welcome the latest waterproof insurtech Parasol.

The start-up claims that traditional insurance plans are not adapted to adventure seekers and travellers as they exclude or poorly cover many activities. It adds alternatives such as brokers are “hard to find, confusing and difficult to use, and offer poor post-sale customer service”.

To combat this, Parasol aims to provide individuals with daily insurance, via their mobile, for the activities they undertake. In the event of an accident, the start-up says its smart technology allows policyholders to get help swiftly and process claims easily directly from their phone.

The London-based business was conceived by a Frenchman Henry de Boysson and a Belgian Laurent Michiels, who have most recently worked for HSBC and Bain & Co respectively. Both have MBAs from business school Insead.


Pitch: Passionate about helping family farms around the world insure themselves from volatile commodity prices.

This insurtech is a collaboration between the Institute for Financial and Actuarial Mathematics at Liverpool University, over 200 farmers and a global team of insurance, software and commodity experts.

In short, Stable seeks to aid dairy, livestock and arable farmers by using public indexes to calculate a quote - based on three questions - to replace any loss of income if an index price falls lower than the price selected.

CEO and founder Richard Counsell’s family are beef farmers from Somerset, and he has run technology businesses such as software firm Warbler.

Counsell started the Stable project after completing a Nuffield Farming Scholarship on Simplification of Financial Risk Management for Farmers, co-opting help from academics from places as far afield as the US and New Zealand, to fine-tune his plan. Work on the current platform began in earnest in 2015 and three years on, the business is poised to launch in 2018.

Thing Co

Pitch: “Thing Co is a new insurtech company, set up by Mike Brockman, focusing on developing the next generation telematics using the latest technology.”

Having begun the process of selling his remaining shares in his last start-up, telematics specialist Box Innovation Group to Aioi Nissay Dowa, insurance entrepreneur Mike Brockman this month announced that he had set up a new business.

Called Thing Co, it aims to work with selected partners – including Aioi Nissay Dowa - from the insurance and technology industries to first build a business-to-business model, offering what it describes as “next generation of telematics”, utilising ADAS, intelligent voice and artificial intelligence.

With an intention of launching in quarter two 2018, Brockman told Post it would subsequently launch a business-to-consumer proposition to complement the incoming General Data Protection Regulation.

GDPR will put more power in the hands of customers when it comes to their data. The device utilises the internet of things and collects a massive amount of data which can work to the advantage of the customers as well as the insurer. In the future we will offer a service whereby customers can receive insurance in exchange for data.”

Coming along with Brockman on the journey, are former colleagues Jonathon Valentine [chief technology officer] and Matt Masters [lead developer], who worked with the Insure the Box brand as head of innovation and core developer respectively.


Pitch: Introducing a new pet insurance model powered by technology and simplified through design. Changing the public perception of insurance by giving back to charity, rewarding proactive behaviour and building a community network.

If there is one area that is well fished in the dog-eat-dog world of insurtechs, it is pet insurance.

Previously we have featured Cat Dog Fish and Pluto Pet Care in our ‘start-ups to watch’ coverage. There are a number of other new digital businesses that include insurance as part of their offering: 1 Part Pet and its Trakz productPlan Pooch; as well as Paw Squad and Pit Pat Pet, which have Direct Line and RSA among their respective investors.

However, our focus here is on Wagel, which was founded by Andrew Leal [chief hustler] and includes Cezar Grigore [chief hacker], Chris Mckee [business savant], Orfeas Iliopoulos [mobile gangster] and Ross Fretten [product ninja] among its start-up team.

Fretten’s name may sound familiar: he is the managing director of dog training and health company Kibble, and was a candidate on the most recent series of The Apprentice. He was fired in the fifth week after telling Lord Sugar: ‘Statistically speaking, I’m very smart. If you take an average room of people from the UK, I’m usually the smartest person in the room. I actually do have the IQ of an official genius.”

As for the insurance knowledge of the team listed on Wagel’s website, the Linked In profiles indicate only Iliopoulos has worked in insurance, with a short stint at Compare the Market, followed by a longer one at RSA. Mckee and Leal both studied at Cass Business School.

The business says it will only take a capped amount of any insurance premium to manage its operations, and donate any other profits to charity. Policyholders will be rewarded for keeping their pets fit and healthy with discounts from third-party partners.

It is worth noting that Wagel “is not yet regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority” but indicates it plans to be; and in a nod to 1970s TV animation and 1990s rave culture its dog and cat chat bots appear to be called Rhubarb and Custard.


If you run an insurtech start-up and would like to be considered for a future blog, then drop me a line at [email protected]

And if you want to stay on top of all things insurtech, don’t forget to sign up for the Post Digital Insurance Collective, with the first meeting of 2018 due to take place on Friday 27 April.

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