It has been over a year since Tapoly embarked on our journey to create on-demand insurance products. We have made great progress in building our platform to price insurance on demand and have learned a lot along the way.
If you are an insurtech start up or are about to enter this space, you may be familiar with the issues you face. But how does it look from the other side? What points should start-ups bear in mind when approaching an incumbent with a view to making a deal? We put the question to some insurance leaders, and collated their answers below:
“It very much relates to the business of the incumbent. One of the fundamental problems is that the product on offer tends to be niche and although the insurer may be interested in some small undertakings the real attraction is in respect of the mass market. If the start-up can offer a product that the insurer can see will eventually develop to appeal to the entire demographics of its book of business, then a deal will materialize very quickly. Therefore, my advice to a start-up is to get to know the insurance company and in particular get to know its existing book of business!” – Marc Sordoni, Head of Reinsurance at UnipolSai Assicurazioni S.p.A and Chief Executive Officer at UnipolRe Dac.
“When interacting with a large organisation, be aware of the of the roles of the people you talk to. Some of them will focus on the details of how your product works, while others may be thinking in broader terms of market fit, integration with existing products, or investment, so make sure you tailor your conversation accordingly. Also, you should make your goals and expectations of the meeting clear, as they may seem obvious to you, but employees of a large organisation may not think in the same way.” – Martin Henley, Group Chief Information Officer of XL Catlin.
“Think about how your proposal fits in with the insurer’s existing offerings, and approach them with a plan for how to integrate your product with theirs. You should be clear about what stage of development you are in with your concept – insurers will be looking for proof of concept as a minimum. Also be clear about what you are looking for – support, investment, co-operation, help with distribution or with technical underwriting – there are lots of possibilities for partnership and the insurer won’t necessarily know what you have in mind unless you tell them.” – Jacob Abboud, Chief Information Officer, Allianz Insurance (UK)
“It is crucial that the start-up does their research before approaching incumbent insurer. This research should include what the insurer’s lines of business are and strategically where they are headed. This will help them build alignment and create synergies between the start-up’s proposition and the insurer’s long term growth.” – Parul Kaul-Green, Head of UK Strategy, M&A and Innovation at AXA.
As with anything, it seems that communication is key. Be clear about what you propose and what you expect. Insurers will have seen lots of start-ups with different proposals, so you have nothing to lose by being open and straightforward. And don’t be discouraged by a “No” – there are lots of insurers out there, and they will all have different risk appetites and areas of focus. Eventually you will find a match. Good luck!
One thought on “What does an insurer look for in a start-up?”
Saw the article yesterday in Exponential Investor. I am an active investor in start ups; primarily tech. I was wondering where I could get details of your proposal and fundraising.
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