On December 6th, MassChallenge held its “The Future of Insurtech” event at its offices just outside the Seaport District. Tweets before the event, with the hashtag #Insurtech16, hyped the expected opportunities for startups to revamp the insurance industry stating in their 140 characters, comments such as:
To see more, the Twitter feed from the event can be accessed here: #Insurtech16
The buzzword of 2016
“Insurtech”, has undoubtedly been the buzz word in insurance during 2016. For those looking for a more formal definition of what exactly “Insurtech” is, it the melding of insurance and technology and includes those companies designing or creating any technologies or systems aimed at “disrupting” the insurance industry. The goal is to “disrupt” or shake up the insurance industry, the way other industries have been disrupted by the Internet and mobile technologies.
Agency Checklists has been following this trend with particular interest because of the part that both Boston and Massachusetts seems to be playing in this new field. Aside from being crowned the most innovative city this year, the city has already begun to hold meet-ups (InsurTech Boston) and other events and is home to at least five different on-line platforms including Insurify, EverQuote, Goji, Poncho, Insuramatch and MyLifeProtected, not including still others aimed at helping agents like AskKodiak, Veruna and Apliant.
Free event with food and drinks
The event had free admission and was well attended by approximately 150-200 interested persons who seemed primarily to be tech-types. The few insurance types seemed to stand out by the occasional suit and sport jacket.
MassChallenge provided to all a well-stocked buffet-style supper along with an open bar of beer, wine and soft drinks.
Panel of experts discussing potential of “InsurTech”
The focus of the event was a panel discussion of Insurtech opportunities and issues with four panelists:
- Sandy Kreis, Director of Labs, North America: Lab of Forward Thinking (LOFT) at John Hancock. The LOFT explores emerging technologies, new business processes, and consumer needs to deliver innovative solutions as well as how technology can be implemented in old corporate infrastructure.
- Chris Cheatham, CEO and Founder of RiskGenius: a company focused on providing a platform to analyze insurance policies through computer algorithms to categorize and structure the content of the policy documents so that they can be reviewed to find the gaps in coverage and the policy conditions.
- Murli Buluswar, Chief Science Officer, AIG: Mr. Buluswar leads the newly created Science Team, whose mission it is to help AIG achieve a competitive advantage through science-driven innovation. He is tasked with establishing a world-class research and development function, focusing on data to support decisions in how AIG can adapt strategies for better business results and more value delivered to the AIG customer.
- Shereen Shermak, Director of Good Growth Capital: Shereen Shermak is a Manager and member of the investment committee of Good Growth Capital, a venture capital firm she founded in 2015. Ms. Shermak has extensive investment experience in the financial service industry.
The discussion was necessarily general in nature except for Mr. Buluswar who gave an interesting prediction about smart sensors and the internet of things (devices with communications) potentially causing a revolution over the next five to seven years in underwriting property risks. He foresaw insurance carriers interfacing with the sensors of a risk’s locations to monitor underwriting risks in real-time.
Some pictures from the Future of Insurtech event
MassChallenge is a not-for-profit startup accelerator helping entrepreneurs across any industry with the objective to:
- Promote innovation, collaboration and commercialization;
- Address the seed-stage investment gap, empowering novice entrepreneurs;
- Provide educational opportunities for entrepreneurs; and
- Showcase entrepreneurship assets and infrastructure locally, nationally and internationally
As always, we will keep you updated about any future “InsurTech” Events in the area.