Blog: Want to prove your insurtech credentials? Recruit a Googler or Amazonian

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As Igo4 appoints a Google exec to its board, Jonathan Swift looks at whether the recruitment of Mark Bennett marks a "trend" in terms of insurance turning to digital to fill their top tables.

Last month broker Igo4 recruited Google Play’s Mark Bennett to its senior team as a non-executive director.

The move was the latest by an insurance company looking to boost its ranks with someone from an online business. Perhaps hoping they can sprinkle a bit of tech magic dust over their organisation.

Or in the words of Igo4 someone to help them “cement” their “ambition to capitalise on digital and data strategies” and “reinforce” their “reputation for innovative propositions and partnerships”.

Bennett is the international director for Google Play’s Europe, Middle East, Latin America and Asia markets, and was previously managing director for Blinkbox Music and head of digital at Sainsbury’s.

Although it might not rank as a “trend” yet, Bennett’s appointment, in terms of insurance firms looking to technology brands to boost their credentials in this space, has not happened in isolation.

If it ever turns into a “trend” then people might reflect on the “trend-setter” being Simply Business who at the start of the decade turned to the former boss of one of the world’s biggest dating websites, Jason Stockwood. A man who also had Lastminute and Travelocity on his CV.

Among the most recent additions to the roll call of tech professionals ending up in insurance are Hein Kuiper (ex-Google) at Carole Nash; Joe Hurd (ex-Facebook) and Matthew Crummack (ex-Lastminute) both at Go Compare.

The Go Compare appointments are notable because at last week’s Digital Insurance Collective meeting, one of the most pertinent observations was that the price comparison sites – despite being a disruptive force for the last decade – are possibly being left behind by insurtech. Indeed it was suggested their days could be numbered if they did not act soon.

And secondly, that Esure founder Peter Wood looked to Crummack to take over Go Compare and lead the IPO of the aggregator, dumping insurance stalwart Jon Morrell in the process.

Could the addition of Hurd at Go Compare be a sign that PCSs are not sleeping on their insurtech laurels. And that Wood might again dip into the online space to fill the vacant top spot at Esure to fill Stuart Vann’s shoes?

On the first point, it is now incumbent on the other three aggregators to step up and find their own Googlers, Amazonians or Facebook friends.

Whilst if the latter came to fruition it would certainly mark the most notable tech addition to an insurer board room yet; although whether they supplant traditional insurer exec breeding grounds such as banking, accountancy and the British Armed Forces is probably some time off.

But if a few more tech heads do find their way through the doors then the arrow might start pointing well and truly towards “trend”.

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