In the latest in his series of Insurtechs to Watch, Post content director Jonathan Swift casts an eye over six more start-ups looking to make a splash in the UK insurance sector.
The insurtech scene continues to attract attention and investment.
Yes, there are the failures as proven recently by Trov in the UK, Ageas’ Back Me Up and Kinsu; but that has not put off entrepreneurs from looking to making a splash in the insurance market by using the latest digital technologies.
Following on from my new year round up of start-ups to watch, here is my latest batch of insurtechs – some more progressed than others – that will be worth keeping an eye on for the rest of the year and into 2020.
“Risk is dynamic and so is our approach to managing it. We use a wide range of data sources to predict and score risk dynamically, help our customers actively mitigate future threats and obtain better coverage from the insurer in return.”
The story to date:
There must be something going on in Essex – see also Insurami below – with Colchester-based Balkerne one of two insurtechs here that have connections to the county.
The start-up was founded by Harsih Pesala in January this year and numbers Jonathan Crook as its only other director according to Companies House.
The one business that ties them together is Stonehaven Technology, also based in Colchester, which Crook is also a director of.
Among the four Balkerne employees listed on Linkedin is another Stonehaven alumini – James Lowry.
According to Angel List Balkerne “is currently a tech company looking to become a ‘virtual insurer’ in 12-18 months time. Along with providing insurance we will provision a risk management solution which enable customers to understand property specific risk, dynamic threats related to flooding, crime and be provided with the means to proactively manage the risk to reduce incidences of property loss and damage”.
As to the name, one suspects given the start-ups heritage it is likely named after the Balkerne Gate, a 1st-century Roman gateway in Colchester.
“Fast & flexible insurance for small businesses. Easy monthly payments. No fees, no contracts that tie you in.”
The story to date:
Coverly managing director Jodi Cartwright spent eight years at Aviva, latterly as head of private clients, before joining Brokerbility as commercial director.
However, it was her next experience which most likely laid the foundations for her pedigree as Coverly boss, when she joined a team – that also included HSBC’s digital project manager Terence D’Souza – looking to set up the ‘digital insurance broker’ Tock in 2016.
When the team disbanded a year later D’Souza joined Aviva briefly as a digital change lead – but Cartwright kept on the insurtech start-up path which has led to Coverly.
Backed by invoice finance specialist Bibby Financial Services and an appointed representative of Davies-owned Ambant Underwriting the team includes Bryan Philips and Jonathan Dodds as product directors, Richie Young as underwriter and Sarah Leigh as customer experience executive.
Fittingly for a company that has the stated intention to ‘push the boundaries of the 100 year old insurance market’ – of that quartet only Young has any traditional general insurance experience, with the likes of Philips spending almost a decade at the BBC.
However, it has found a fitting underwriter if it is to make waves in the insurtech space, as its business is underwritten by MGAM, a business that works with the likes of British Insurance Award winning start-ups Laka and Bought By Many, as well as Zego.
“We’ll help you find your lost property and protect your valuables.”
The story to date:
Found is the brainchild of Lance Plunkett, who before setting up the business was a digital strategist and ambassador for the States of Guernsey, where the start-up is registered.
At the end of 2018 he was joined by CTO Andrew Ogier, who helped found online pet product supplier Petwell and tech veteran Andrew McCartney as a non-executive director.
According to their Linkedin blurb London-based Found is “an innovative, community-focused, technology-driven lost property management start-up with an exciting ‘insurtech’ offering.
“The Found team are creating innovative changes in the way the lost property is managed and in how insurance is offered to the public for gadgets and other valuable items. We are all about ethical, fair and honest insurance.”
Based around an app that allows people to register their possessions, making claims easier to verify if items are subsequently lost, the model also features a proposed extensive network of Found partners.
“As the coverage of our Found partner network rapidly increases, so does the chance of finding your lost valuable. If your item is discovered, we’ll connect you with the person or organisation that found it so you can arrange its safe return,” it explains.
The business also has a cute robotic mascot Sir Foundalot, who has a passing resemblance to Eve from Pixar’s Wall-E film; and a business offering that aims to help clients free up space taken by unclaimed items – or even outsource the whole storage and logistics process.
“Finally, big company benefits for freelancers. Join Collective, a community rebuilding benefits from the ground up.”
The story to date:
It is an interesting way to introduce your start-up, but founder Anthony Beilin chose to open the doors for people to express early interest in The Collective by using the popular children’s picture book The Tiger That Came to Tea.
He correctly notes that it tells the story through a lens of 1960s Britain and suggests a rewrite for the modern freelance economy where Sophie’s dad is a now a freelance web designer working from the box room on the third floor; the milk man is replaced by a Hermes delivery man; Sophie doesn’t open the door straight away, she checks the Ring App to make sure it’s safe to answer; and the tiger still enjoys his cup of tea, but he insists on almond milk in the milk jug.
I think you get the picture.
On The Collective holding site Beilin introduces himself as a proud dad and passionate Liverpool fan. What he doesn’t outline is his credentials for start-up success that include being global head of innovation at Aviva until February this year.
Before that he was a co-founder and chief operating officer of Unbound Global, a media company that aspires to connect founders, entrepreneurs, investors, corporate and brand executives and opinion-formers through innovation festivals, bespoke content and corporate programmes.
In a second blog Beilin comments how many of his friends “have ditched their nine to five corporate jobs and taken up arms as participants in the “gig revolution” as entrepreneurs and independent consultants. But adds that none of them have insurance or decent savings as a “safety net”, something he is hoping to provide.
Beilin’s co-founder Benjamin Hay, who describes himself as ‘a recovering barrister’, was formerly a director at Virgin Unite, the entrepreneurial foundation of the Virgin Group.
The only other employee listed on Linkedin is head of product Dan Symons, who formerly cut his teeth at Folio, a social savings app – which closed in 2017 after a failed fund raise.
With that broad collection of experiences it will certainly be interesting to see if the Insurtech Gateway incubated The Collective earns its stripes.
“In Share exists to help businesses make more money by stopping bad stuff from happening”.
Story to date:
Like Coverly and Freelance Collective, In Share is another start-up that can trace its heritage to Aviva, in this case with co-founder Graeme Thurgood, who worked at the insurer between 2008 and 2016, latterly as strategic initiatives manager, corporate and specialty risk.
In between Aviva and In Share, Thurgood worked for Regis Mutual Management.
His co-founder Gareth Eggle has more of an insurtech background. With over a decade in recruitment he has more recently acted as an adviser for rental market disrupter Canopy and drone insurance specialist Flock; and is a mentor at StartUp Bootcamp.
Eggle’s most recent venture – outside In Share – is Eggle Consulting which he created “to support both start-ups and incumbents in the insurance sector, and to encourage greater collaboration across the market”.
In Share’s website is currently under construction, but it does offer a hint of what it plans to offer: “We believe that any interruption to a business’s normal operations can have a lasting impact on their performance – customers may not return; staff motivation and productivity may flounder; credit worthiness and financial relationships become strained – all of which can undermine profitability and long-term success.
“Our vision is to increase business resilience across every sector, raising the minimum standards in all industries, and ensuring the continued uninterrupted operation of any organisation.”
On its Linkedin page In Share suggests that its eco-system might involve an element of peer-to-peer risk sharing – a model that’s had its ups and downs in insurtech in recent years - as well as setting out an objective to automate “the traditionally painful analogue journey of obtaining financial protection”.
“We developed our Deposit Guarantee platform as a way of improving on-boarding and risk management for landlords and tenants.”
The story to date:
The business was devised by Majed Chaaraoui (CEO) and Icelandic entrepreneur Arnor Davidsson (CTO).
Before launching Insurami Chaaraoui was an investment manager at Blenheim Chalcott and analyst at Paradigm Change Capital Partners; Davidsson help found Fanaments, a fantasy sports start-up and moved to the UK as a senior software engineer for Checkit, an IoT product for automated monitoring and work management.
So far, there is not much in the way of insurance and risk management here, which is where 2019 recruits Jonny Hawkins (head of risk and analytics) and George Archer (senior underwriter) come in.
Hawkins includes Liberis on his CV where - among other things - he led the Liberis Data Science team responsible for employing machine learning techniques to optimise risk splitting and deliver maximum profit from its portfolio; while Archer was a credit analyst at Tokio Marine. Interestingly Archer has also enjoyed a stint as a poker analyst and coach.
If this wasn’t enough, the business is an appointed representative of Colchester-based Independent Broking solutions which includes over eighty year of insurance experience in its chair and CEO alone, David Pye and Nick Reading respectively.
Reading is also listed on Companies House as a director of Insurami Technology Solutions alongside Chaaraoui.
Having received £1m of seed investment in December 2018 led by Global Founders Capital, with Clocktower Technology Ventures, Entreprenuer First and angel Charles Songhurst (a founding partner of Katana Capital), also participating, Insurami already has international expansion in its sights which shows confidence for a business so young.
Creative and Innovation Awards
Post has launched the new Creative and Innovation Awards to celebrate collaboration and fresh thinking within insurance.
Combining the best elements of two previous Post events, The Insurance Marketing and PR Awards and The Digital and Insurtech Awards, this showcase will give you a chance to toast the ideas and forward thinkers that are shaping the future of the market.
The ideas and forward thinkers that are not only improving the customer experience of policyholders; the standing of individual brands; and the overall reputation of the insurance sector.
But the ideas and forward thinkers that are allowing insurance to adopt technology to facilitate improved customer journeys and use data to customise and personalise offerings.
If you have something innovative you want to shout about; if you have a collaboration that got the creative juices flowing; or an initiative that made customers and/or employees go ‘wow’, then this is the platform for you.
Thank you to everyone who came to the @InsCharities golf tournament yesterday. The sun shone eventually and a great day was had by all. Well done to the Team @WTW_ins who took the team trophy with 89 points! 👏👏👏 #golf #insurance #insuranceindustry pic.twitter.com/12i7aqV1bz— Insurance Charities (@InsCharities) September 12, 2019
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