The October second and third conference of InsureTech Connect at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas lived up to its hype. The conference had over 200 presenters, more than 175 companies, and nearly 6,000 attendees. Five hundred of the attendees were from outside the United States: Many from Canada but others from all over the world.
A large list of insurance company and Insurtech startup speakers
Among the conference’s 200 speakers there was a mixture of both established insurance players and entrepreneurs looking to shake up the insurance establishment.
Some of the executives speaking representing the traditional insurance market included:
- Michael Consedine, CEO, National Association of Insurance Commissioners;
- Inga Beale, CEO, Lloyds;
- Dan Glaser, President & CEO of Marsh and McLennan Companies;
- Brooks Tingle, President & CEO of John Hancock Insurance;
- Pina Albo, CEO at Hamilton Insurance Group;
- Gaurav Garg, CEO–Personal Insurance,
Some of the representatives from the more numerous Insurtech camp included:
- Daniel Schreiber, CEO & Co-Founder, of Lemonade Insurance;
- Dustin Yoder, CEO, Sureify;
- Inaki Berenguer, CEO & Co-Founder, of Coverwallet;
- Ilya Bodner, CEO & Founder, Bold Penguin;
- Chris Cheatham, CEO & Co-Founder, RiskGenius;
- Jennifer Fitzgerald, CEO & Co-Founder, Policygenius;
- Ken Lin, CEO, Credit Karma, who attended to announce his company with over 80 million subscribers was now providing auto insurance quotes.
Few services or products for independent agents
While the conference had over two hundred exhibitors, products or services targeted for the independent agent were not easily found. However, there were three companies that I thought had a definite or potential advantage for agents to improve their marketing or operations.
These companies in alphabetical order are:
Exhibitor’s summary: CardTapp is a business engagement and marketing platform that connects prospects, customers, sales, and marketing through a trackable mobile solution that enables targeted and timely follow-up to win more deals. https://www.cardtapp.com/.
AgencyChecklists’ take: Beyond the exhibitor’s Insuretech jargon, CardTapp offers a pretty slick product. Essentially, it sells a personalized app for smartphones that an agent or an agency can brand and distribute to existing or potential customers. CardTapp already has insurance company and agency clients using the app per its website. The company was listed this year in Inc. Magazine’s 37th annual list of the 5000 fastest-growing companies in the nation as number 1088.
Exhibitor’s summary: InsuredMine provides a suite of digital products which help insurance agents enhance customer experience and loyalty, increase retention, and sell more using the InsuredMine insurance digital wallet mobile App, AI-driven chatbot, Analytics powered–Agent portal and social media triggers for coverage gap. Web: www.insuredmine.com.
AgencyChecklists’ take: This company is a startup that is targeting its product at insurance agents and agencies. It offers a mobile app similar to CardTapp which provides the agent or agencies customers a digital wallet to maintain policy information for their policies. The product also has an agency portal in the short demo I saw that seemed to offer a lot of information. The company claims its product integrates with agency management systems and allows data transfers. The app also has a chatbot feature that allows the agent and the customer to communicate and, according to the company, will answer basic questions related to policies like expiration dates and premiums.
Exhibitor’s summary: Zipwhip is revolutionizing business texting for insurance companies by enabling text messaging for existing landline, VoIP and toll-free phone numbers. With same-day setup, Zipwhip’s cloud-based text messaging solution allows companies to immediately have more personalized, real-time, secure and reliable communication with clients. Built using modern APIs, Zipwhip allows enterprises to leverage a deeper integration within their existing workflows, applications and archiving systems. Zipwhip is the only business-texting provider with direct network connectivity, and owning our infrastructure uniquely provides our customers with the highest degree of service, quality and security. Learn more about Zipwhip at www.zipwhip.com.
AgencyChecklists’ take: For agents and agencies to be able to text to their customers is rapidly becoming a necessity. Zipwhip allows an agency to use its existing business phone numbers for texting. The pricing seems reasonable, and the service integrates with a number of CRM systems. The Zipwhip product seemed to me to offer agents and agencies a simple product that would enhance agency operations with minimal interference with existing systems. This company also has insurance companies and agencies using their product per their website.
This chart shows why agents and agencies should get their customers’ smartphone numbers before their competitors do.
50+ state insurance regulators attended InsureTech Connect 2018
Besides angel investors, venture capitalists, and hedge fund managers attending this conference to find an Uber-type disruptor of the existing insurance marketplace, insurance regulators are also involving themselves in understanding Insurtech’s promises and risks.
More than fifty insurance regulators attended this third InsureTech Connect conference to learn about the effect that the latest insurance innovation could have on consumers. These regulators came from thirty different states including major insurance states such as California, Connecticut, Illinois, Ohio, and Virginia. However, Massachusetts did not send any attendees.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ CEO, Mike Consedine participated as a panelist during the conference. Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Katharine L. Wade also took part in the conference’s “So You Want to Be an Insurtech?” panel, which gave Insurtech startups insight into the process of understanding the role insurance regulators play in bringing a new product to market.
“Insurance regulators are active in these spaces because we want to be engaged with innovators early in the process,” Commissioner Wade said. “Attending events like InsureTech Connect allows us to explain to entrepreneurs how insurance is regulated and answer their questions, which gives us the opportunity to encourage innovation while protecting consumers.”
Office hours for venture capitalists
Clearly, for many attendees, the pursuit of investor capital was a draw. At the end of the first day, twenty-three venture capital companies set up shop on the large tables outside the exhibition hall. Using the app supplied by the conference, interested attendees could schedule a meeting with the venture capitalists to give the elevator pitch.
A walk-around this bustling area quickly gave you the idea that a lot of money was trying to find the big idea that might disrupt the insurance industry the way Uber and Lyft disrupted the taxi industry.
The money looking for an Insurtech home did not just come from venture capitalists. Before attending the conference, I saw a post on LinkedIn from a development officer of a large insurer soliciting any startups to schedule a meeting at the conference. The come-on to this solicitation essentially said this insurer wanted to spend money on Insurtech.
A possible harbinger for some of the Insurtech startups may come from the statements of Lemonade’s president at the conference. Lemonade has raised over $120 million in venture capital, but presently has what some say are excessively high loss ratios. Lemonade’s president said critics were missing the point in questioning Lemonade’s high loss ratios because the changes from Insuretech were “bigger than one company.”
Those of us who remember the dot-com debacle of 18 years ago may recall that then there was also a disdain for profitability, “because the Internet will change everything.” It did, but not before investors in dot-com companies saw a $1.75 trillion loss of value when the bubble burst.
Insurtech investment in comparison to the crazy initial public offerings in the dot-com era are small, and while people at the conference did not talk of a bubble, they did describe the environment as getting a bit “frothy.”
It will be interesting to see how Insurtech Connect 2019 will develop. Agency Checklists will keep its readers posted.