The In­no­va­tors

Digital Insurance - - COVER STORY - BY NATHAN GO­LIA

For­ward-think­ing ex­ec­u­tives who are lead­ing the in­surance in­dus­try’s dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion

It’s an ex­cit­ing time for in­surance. Startup ac­tiv­ity and in­vest­ment — $1.7 bil­lion in 2016, ac­cord­ing to CB In­sights — are at an all-time high as the grow­ing co­hort of “insurtechs” tar­gets legacy pro­cesses for dig­i­tal rein­ven­tion. On the car­rier side, vi­sion­ary ex­ec­u­tives are spear­head­ing in­ter­nal ef­forts to em­u­late those com­pa­nies’ abil­i­ties to ideate, it­er­ate and ex­e­cute on a 21st-cen­tury time­line.

Over the past sev­eral months, Dig­i­tal In­surance con­sulted with ex­perts across the in­dus­try to as­sem­ble this list of 20 in­no­va­tors who are truly lead­ing in­surance into a new era de­fined by dig­i­tal ef­fi­cien­cies and ef­fec­tive­ness. Th­ese lead­ers are trans­form­ing an in­dus­try known for paper forms and overnight batch pro­cess­ing into a fully dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ence from quote to claim, lev­er­ag­ing real-time data from con­nected de­vices and ad­vanced an­a­lyt­ics to cre­ate new in­surance prod­ucts that meet mod­ern needs.

Alex Timm FOUNDER, ROOT IN­SURANCE

In­surance is of­ten a fam­ily busi­ness, and it was for Alex Timm, the founder of Root In­surance, a us­age-based in­surance com­pany that han­dles every­thing from data col­lec­tion to quot­ing to pol­icy ser­vic­ing through its smart­phone app.

Timm’s first job — at age 14 — was in in­surance, mak­ing phone calls on be­half of his fa­ther’s agency to help cus­tomers man­age poli­cies. But de­spite that bap­tism by fire, he fell in love with the in­dus­try.

“When your neigh­bor’s house burned down, in­surance was right there to help them pick up,” Timm says. “It’s a very com­pli­cated, math­e­mat­i­cally driven in­dus­try, but I’ve al­ways loved that there’s this ‘no­ble cause’ at the same time.”

Even­tu­ally, Timm he got into the ac­tu­ar­ial side of the in­dus­try and worked at State Auto and Na­tion­wide, the big in­surance com­pa­nies lo­cated in his home­town of Colum­bus, Ohio. That’s where he first be­gan to no­tice that the in­surance in­dus­try needed to make some changes. While he was work­ing as a con­sul­tant for Na­tion­wide, “[the in­surance in­dus­try’s] dig­i­tal sat­is­fac­tion rat­ings were worse than govern­ment ser­vices,” he says. He saw an open­ing to cre­ate a new kind of in­surance com­pany that was more cus­tomer-friendly.

“There was very lit­tle in­no­va­tion in the space, and it was frus­trat­ing,” he says. “There were some re­ally ob­vi­ous things that were go­ing on like big data — it was fairly ob­vi­ous that it could tell us a lot about risk pro­files. But we didn’t know how to get it or make sense of it. That’s an in­or­di­nate amount of in­ef­fi­ciency that con­sumers are pay­ing for.”

Timm set out to build a data-driven in­surance com­pany from the ground up that could in­cor­po­rate the full po­ten­tial of ad­vances in an­a­lyt­ics, dig­i­tal chan­nels, and self-ser­vice with the sin­gu­lar goal of mak­ing in­surance a bet­ter prod­uct for pol­i­cy­hold­ers. So in March 2015, he be­gan work­ing on Root.

Root’s goal is to lure good driv­ers with the prom­ise of lower rates. Once some­one down­loads the app, it col­lects data about that driver’s habits over a pe­riod of about three weeks. Af­ter that time, a quote is gen­er­ated.

“We pull the data that we col­lect from the car, pass it to the data sci­ence team and run pre­dic­tive an­a­lyt­ics on it” to get a han­dle on how a driver op­er­ates, he ex­plains. “The smart­phone data is un­be­liev­ably gran­u­lar — an ac­celerom­e­ter can pick up very minute de­tails.”

Root’s early days were “much like start­ing a tech­nol­ogy com­pany” Timm re­lates. That’s be­cause his goal from the start was a fully in­te­grated app ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We were fo­cus­ing on the app, be­cause the first big piece was the tech­nol­ogy. Con­sumers want to do busi­ness on a smart­phone, there shouldn’t be 100 dif­fer­ent fields to fill out with two thumbs. It should be easy, not con­fus­ing.”

Twelve of the com­pany’s 20 em­ploy­ees are in the tech­nol­ogy depart­ment, a 60% ra­tio that Timm ex­pects to keep up even as it ex­pands into new mar­kets.

The fact that Root doesn’t rely on legacy sys­tems and is build­ing every­thing from scratch is to its ad­van­tage, he says.

“Tech­nol­ogy changes so quickly and so fast, that if you’re not con­sis­tently rein­vent­ing your en­tire code base you’re go­ing to be left out,” he says. “We have that ag­ile mind­set that will en­able us to in­no­vate as we scale and al­low us to avoid a lot of bu­reau­cracy.”

Ac­tu­ally tak­ing on risk and sell­ing cov­er­age was a cru­cial com­po­nent to his plan, he as­serts: The idea of sim­ply de­vel­op­ing tech­nol­ogy to sell to in­surance com­pa­nies never crossed his mind.

“You can’t rein­vent the in­dus­try by sit­ting next to it,” Timm says. “Many of our startup com­peti­tors are mak­ing mo­bile apps and try­ing to sell to or part­ner with an in­surance com­pany. But then you have to suc­cumb to [that com­pany’s] busi­ness model.”

When dis­cussing how his com­pany is dif­fer­ent, Timm is fairly crit­i­cal of es­tab­lished in­surance prac­tices. For ex­am­ple, he says that the cur­rent sys­tem of pric­ing is “ex­tremely bro­ken” and not “based on the right data.” But that’s to be ex­pected be­cause of his pas­sion for serv­ing the in­surance cus­tomer. Timm truly be­lieves in the trans­for­ma­tive power of dig­i­tal.

“The way you do it bet­ter than ev­ery­one else is data sci­ence,” he says, ex­plain­ing that tech­nol­ogy takes some of the pres­sure off of con­sumers at ap­pli­ca­tion time and re­duces the need for eso­teric links like credit scor­ing to re­fine pric­ing.

“What it will do is it will be­gin to make in­surance a lot more con­sumer-friendly,” he says. “We can cut out a lot of those naive as­sump­tions about th­ese old un­der­ly­ing vari­ables. When we be­gin to mea­sure th­ese things bet­ter, we can make the world fairer.”

At the same time, Timm and by ex­ten­sion Root are acutely aware of the fur­ther dis­rup­tions com­ing to the in­surance in­dus­try. The com­pany re­cently an­nounced a pro­gram for Tesla own­ers who use the au­tomaker’s Au­tosteer driver-as­sis­tance tech­nol­ogy. Through an in­te­gra­tion with Tesla’s on­board com­puter, Root can iden­tify when driv­ers switch to Au­tosteer and pro­vide a dis­count when it is on. The pro­gram is bold, but it’s the data-driven ap­proach that led Root to em­brace au­ton­omy

“We pull the data that we col­lect from the car, pass it to the data sci­ence team and run pre­dic­tive an­a­lyt­ics on it.”

at a time when many in­sur­ers are not sure how to re­spond. That comes from Root’s be­lief that it’s how you drive that mat­ters.

“We be­lieve that th­ese self-driv­ing cars are per­form­ing bet­ter. It’s been proved very strongly in the data,” he says. “In­surance is go­ing to have to evolve, be­cause [au­tonomous ve­hi­cles] will make in­surance far cheaper over time.”

Daniel Schreiber CEO & CO-FOUNDER, LEMONADE

Lemonade CEO and co-founder Daniel Schreiber laments the dis­trust con­sumers have for in­sur­ers. A ma­jor goal of his com­pany, a renters in­surance car­rier, is to turn that on its head.

In an­nounc­ing Lemonade last fall, and in in­ter­views and pub­lic ap­pear­ances since, Schreiber ex­plains that be­cause cus­tomers don’t trust in­sur­ers, its easy for them to ra­tio­nal­ize mis­lead­ing car­ri­ers. He be­lieves that con­sumers need a big­ger stake in the in­surance prod­uct in order to dis­in­cen­tivize that be­hav­ior.

In many ways, Lemonade is like many insurtechs: It lever­ages smart­phones heav­ily, as the main cus­tomer-ac­qui­si­tion chan­nel and claims-re­port­ing tool. That meets cus­tomers’ de­mands for a mod­ern in­surance ex­pe­ri­ence, Schreiber says.

How­ever, go­ing be­yond that is the com­pany’s fi­nan­cial model. At the time they sign up, cus­tomers se­lect a char­ity to which Lemonade will do­nate un­used claims re­serves at the end of each year. This means that cus­tomers know that they will only be hurt­ing their cause of choice by ex­ag­ger­at­ing losses.

“We cre­ate a group, in a sense, of peers who are de­fined by their com­mon cause,” he ex­plains.

Early on, Lemonade at­tempted to term this “peer-to-peer” in­surance, but the com­pany aban­doned that term due to im­pre­ci­sion. “We had ex­pected it to be some­thing that would help peo­ple un­der­stand the model, but it gen­er­ated more ques­tions than an­swers,” Schreiber ex­plains.

Now, tech­nol­ogy is more of a sell­ing point and dif­fer­en­tia­tor for Lemonade. Schreiber points to its ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and be­hav­ioral sci­ence as­pects as ways that it stands out from the crowd of renters in­surance. That doesn’t mean the be­hav­ioral side is ig­nored. Lemonade em­ploys a be­hav­ioral econ­o­mist— former Duke pro­fes­sor Dan Ariely — to help re­fine its mes­sag­ing as it gets more data on its cus­tomers. But Schreiber also is work­ing to hire ad­di­tional tal­ent and build out Lemonade’s tech in­fra­struc­ture.

The com­pany op­er­ates a com­bi­na­tion of server-side tech­nolo­gies — rat­ing en­gines and back of­fice tools — and front-end tech that en­hance the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence. Th­ese in­clude AI chat­bots named af­ter real-life em­ploy­ees to con­trol claims, en­roll­ment and cus­tomer ser­vice via its mo­bile app.

“The idea that you can file a claim without fil­ing a piece a paper, without speak­ing to a hu­man be­ing, by a few taps on a phone and record­ing a short video of your­self so that it is all over in three or four min­utes, is a pretty rad­i­cal de­par­ture from the in­cum­bent ex­pe­ri­ence,” he says.

Fund­ing comes from in­vestors in­clud­ing XL In­no­vate, Se­quoia Cap­i­tal, and Tusk Ven­tures. Lemonade is based in New York, but does some back-end work in Tel Aviv, Is­rael. It is li­censed to sell in­surance in New York and Illi­nois, and is hop­ing to be in 47 other states by the end of this year. In its first quar­ter of oper­a­tion in New York, the com­pany sold 410 poli­cies, it says.

Dan Pre­ston CEO, METROMILE

Metromile is a trail­blazer among in­surtech com­pa­nies. It is one of the first U.S. car­ri­ers to fo­cus only on us­age-based in­surance. And CEO Dan Pre­ston has presided over ma­jor ad­vance­ments at the com­pany since his ap­point­ment in 2014.

Pre­ston started out at Metromile as its CTO un­der co-founders Steve Pre­tre and David Frei­d­berg. His in­ti­mate fa­mil­iar­ity with the com­pany’s core data model and tech­nol­ogy plat­form served well as he took over the CEO role. Un­der Pre­ston’s watch, Metromile has be­come a full-stack in­surer (it was a man­ag­ing gen­eral agent when he took over), moved into big­ger of­fices in San Francisco and be­gun an ag­gres­sive cam­paign of value-added ser­vices, claims in­no­va­tion and ex­pan­sion.

Metromile works by us­ing on-board telem­at­ics de­vices to track how many miles cus­tomers drive each month, then charges them based on that. It’s not as in­ter­ested in how peo­ple drive, but rather how much. That’s be­cause, Pre­ston says, driv­ing less is a big­ger pre­dic­tor of loss than al­most any­thing else. So the com­pany uses tra­di­tional underwriting meth­ods to set a price — but it’s per-mile, rather than per-an­num.

Of course, that means the com­pany’s model of me­tered in­surance isn’t for the gen­eral auto in­surance mar­ket. Metromile tar­gets ur­ban driv­ers who don’t take to the road as much. That’s driven some of the in­no­va­tions Pre­ston led over the past few years. Metromile’s lo­ca­tion-aware tech­nol­ogy is able to no­tify cus­tomers if they need main­te­nance or if they are in dan­ger of re­ceiv­ing a park­ing ticket, for ex­am­ple.

“What’s cool about that from a cus­tomer per­spec­tive is not only are you sav­ing money with us but you’re also get­ting more value,” Pre­ston ex­plains. “You may be sav­ing $500 a year with our in­surance prod­ucts, but you’re also prob­a­bly sav­ing like an­other $300 or $400 on park­ing tick­ets and maybe a few hun­dred dol­lars on get­ting your car re­paired cor­rectly.”

In late 2016, Metromile crossed an im­por­tant bound­ary: With the ac­qui­si­tion of Mo­saic In­surance, it be­came a full-fledged in­surance car­rier, li­censed in all 50 states. Pre­ston says that was a goal from the early days of the com­pany: It never wanted to be a ven­dor to the in­surance in­dus­try or just an MGA — though those were im­por­tant steps.

“One of the chal­lenges was that an in­cum­bent try­ing to take this prod­uct to mar­ket would can­ni­bal­ize their own busi­ness in such a way that it would be ex­cep­tion­ally dis­rup­tive,” Pre­ston says. “The only way to get this prod­uct off the ground, we felt, was to start from scratch and ac­tu­ally build up [to an] in­surance com­pany.”

Now that it’s open for busi­ness in all states, Pre­ston says that he’s ex­cited to en­ter into states like New York, Florida and Texas, where the op­por­tu­ni­ties are greater for Metromile’s unique model.

“I think the over­all trend is to­ward driv­ing less, es­pe­cially in cities,” he says. “The ac­tive use of Uber and other ride-shar­ing ser­vices, like car-shar­ing, bet­ter pub­lic tran­sit, more bike lanes, means the car is be­ing used less for com­mut­ing.

Rooney Glea­son PRES­I­DENT, U.S. RE­TAIL, ARGO GROUP US

As a bro­ker for Argo Group, work­ing with gro­cery and re­tail clients for the com­mer­cial car­rier, Rooney Glea­son iden­ti­fied an op­por­tu­nity to dig­i­tal­ize store in­spec­tions, with an eye to­ward re­duc­ing slip-and-fall ac­ci­dents. The logic was that if stores had a more reg­u­lated process for in­spec­tions, trou­ble spots would be caught ear­lier. So he started a tech com­pany, Glea­son Tech­nol­ogy, to de­velop it.

Even­tu­ally, Glea­son re­turned to Argo and brought his tech­nol­ogy, now called Argo Risk Tech. The plat­form lever­ages mo­bile de­vices that pair, us­ing near-field com­mu­ni­ca­tion or Blue­tooth tech­nol­ogy, with a se­ries of sen­sors, bea­cons or QR codes placed around a busi­ness. This al­lows a su­per­vi­sor to track an em­ployee’s path dur­ing a safety check. Any records re­quired dur­ing the safety checks are logged elec­tron­i­cally and are stored in the cloud, for easy ac­cess and search­a­bil­ity. An ar­ray of In­ter­net of Things de­vices are worked into the process — for ex­am­ple, for per­ish­able item checks, Argo’s plat­form sup­ports Blue­tooth ther­mome­ters that can send the tem­per­a­ture read­ing di­rectly to the log without re­quir­ing any in­put.

When there’s an in­ci­dent, the em­ployee only needs to bring their mo­bile de­vice, which will walk through the process of tak­ing pic­tures and record­ing im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion. That cre­ates a first no­tice of loss that is im­me­di­ately sent to Argo. It can then be cross-ref­er­enced with the in­spec­tion in­for­ma­tion to help ad­ju­di­cate the claim.

Now, as part of its in­surance prod­uct for the gro­cery in­dus­try, Argo will set up Risk Tech for new clients, po­si­tion­ing it­self as a full part­ner in risk man­age­ment. “There hasn’t been much new of­fered in what is a ma­ture in­dus­try,” Glea­son says. “This re­ally dif­fer­en­ti­ates us be­cause what we’re lead­ing with is tech and not in­surance.”

Shobana Sankaran GM OF IN­SURANCE, NAUTO

For star­tups tar­get­ing the in­surance in­dus­try, com­ing up with an idea that may im­pact the sec­tor is one part of an equa­tion. But mar­ry­ing an idea to the ac­tual pain points of in­surance is a sep­a­rate task en­tirely. At Nauto, a telem­at­ics startup based in Palo Alto, Calif., that’s where Shobana Sankaran comes in. She is GM of in­surance for the com­pany and a more than 15 year vet­eran of the in­dus­try, in­clud­ing stints at Pro­gres­sive, Esurance and Metromile. Nauto of­fers a plat­form to help mea­sure driver skill. The tech­nol­ogy in­cludes in­ward and out­ward-fac­ing cam­eras, as well as sen­sors, to de­tect road con­di­tions and mon­i­tor how well a driver re­acts to them. Sankaran’s ex­pe­ri­ence helped her com­mu­ni­cate the com­pany’s value propo­si­tion ef­fec­tively, and a panel of in­surer judges se­lected Nauto as the win­ner of Plug & Play’s in­surtech expo late last year.

“It’s hav­ing the abil­ity to mea­sure risk holis­ti­cally – com­bine driver, ve­hi­cle and con­tex­tual data and act as a preven­tion mech­a­nism, so that in­sur­ers can move away from man­ag­ing losses to pre­vent­ing loss,” Sankaran ex­plains.

Gareth Ross CHIEF CUS­TOMER OF­FI­CER, MASSMUTUAL

Since join­ing the in­surer in 2008, MassMutual’s chief cus­tomer of­fi­cer Gareth Ross has emerged as a cham­pion for dig­i­tal­iz­ing his com­pany, mak­ing it a leader in the life in­surance in­dus­try.

Ross led the charge for MassMutual to em­brace data sci­ence, cul­mi­nat­ing in the com­pany open­ing a data sci­ence lab in 2015. He also cham­pi­oned the devel­op­ment of a data tal­ent pipe­line, part­ner­ing with lo­cal col­leges to sup­port ed­u­ca­tion in the field and re­ward­ing stu­dents with po­si­tions at the lab.

From that an­a­lyt­ics-driven foun­da­tion, Ross keyed the launch of MassMutual unit Haven Life, which uses an al­go­rith­mic underwriting en­gine that lever­ages data, mo­bile tech­nol­ogy and ma­chine learn­ing to help cus­tomers to get life in­surance in a fully on­line ex­pe­ri­ence, of­ten without a med­i­cal exam.

It’s all part of Ross’s greater vi­sion for the com­pany. He be­lieves that dig­i­tal’s prom­ise for chang­ing the in­surance in­dus­try comes down to pro­vid­ing a bet­ter cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence.

“As a prod­uct, life in­surance looks pretty much the same as it did in the 1950s, yet it’s how we in­ter­act that needs to con­tinue to evolve,” Ross ex­plains. “Peo­ple now ex­pect our cus­tomer ser­vice to be as prompt as Ama­zon’s, our re­sults as quick and ac­cu­rate as Google’s, and an interface as sim­ple as Uber’s.”

Ryan Kot­ten­stette CEO & FOUNDER, CAPE AN­A­LYT­ICS

Ryan Kot­ten­stette is no stranger to the trans­for­ma­tive power of tech­nol­ogy on es­tab­lished busi­nesses. Be­fore start­ing Cape An­a­lyt­ics, he worked at a ven­ture-cap­i­tal firm, Khosla Ven­tures. There, he saw the trend to­ward us­ing ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence to rev­o­lu­tion­ize busi­nesses like lo­gis­tics and agri­cul­ture. Cape’s tech­nol­ogy ap­plies the power of geospa­tial im­agery, com­puter vi­sion and ma­chine learn­ing to ex­tract and an­a­lyze prop­erty data that’s cru­cial to in­sur­ers. That al­lows in­sur­ers to shorten the ap­pli­ca­tion process and get real-time vis­i­bil­ity into their rein­sur­ance needs, all without hav­ing to send out ad­di­tional man­power to get the in­for­ma­tion.

Louis Ziskin CEO & FOUNDER, DROPIN

Louis Ziskin started DropIn, a plat­form that al­lows in­sur­ers to use stream­ing video from drones and other sources in underwriting and claims. The of­fer­ing has been praised by in­sur­ers such as State Farm for its flex­i­bil­ity and adapt­abil­ity. That’s all part of Ziskin’s over­all goal to im­prove the ex­pe­ri­ence for all in­surance stake­hold­ers. “Typ­i­cally when you im­prove the bot­tom line, it is at the ex­pense of cus­tomer ser­vice, and vice versa. I saw the unique op­por­tu­nity to im­prove the bot­tom line and cus­tomer ser­vice con­cur­rently,” he says.

Brian Heme­sath MAN­AG­ING DI­REC­TOR, GLOBAL IN­SURANCE AC­CEL­ER­A­TOR

Great ideas need great vi­sion­ar­ies to ex­e­cute them, and that’s what Brian Heme­sath did as di­rec­tor of the Global In­surance Ac­cel­er­a­tor. At once tasked with sell­ing in­sur­ers on the value of in­surtech, and sell­ing insurtechs on the po­ten­tial for Des Moines, Iowa, Heme­sath has grown the num­ber of par­tic­i­pat­ing star­tups, in­surance com­pany men­tors, and no­to­ri­ety of in­surtech through each of the pro­gram’s three years. “We see the im­pact in [in­sur­ers] dig­i­tal ini­tia­tives by in­tro­duc­ing new part­ners that, frankly, would have never even made it onto their radar without the GIA,” he says.

Sne­jina Zacharia CEO & FOUNDER, INSURIFY

Dis­tri­bu­tion is one of the most-tar­geted as­pects of in­surance, but many tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies have sim­ply put a dig­i­tal skin on the ex­ist­ing form-driven, agent-cen­tered process and called it a day. Not so for Sne­jina Zacharia’s Insurify. The MIT grad­u­ate set out to re-ar­chi­tect the in­surance agency from the ground up, us­ing ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, op­ti­cal data recog­ni­tion, and chat­bots to give cus­tomers ac­cess to in­surance prod­ucts from Pro­gres­sive, Safeco, and more than 30 other in­sur­ers in a fully dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ence from quote to bind. Ear­lier this year, Insurify cre­ated a chat­bot for Face­book, al­low­ing cus­tomers to buy poli­cies on the so­cial network’s chat ap­pli­ca­tion. “We are re­defin­ing the in­surance dis­tri­bu­tion net­works with car­rier and agency part­ners,” she says.

Tim At­tia CO-FOUNDER, SLICE

Tim At­tia and his part­ner Ernie Hursh were among the few peo­ple who were un­daunted by Google’s auto in­surance ag­gre­ga­tor, help­ing de­velop the tech­nol­ogy that con­nected it to in­sur­ers at their pre­vi­ous com­pany, Bolt So­lu­tions. Af­ter Google shut down that ag­gre­ga­tor, At­tia and Hursh resur­faced in short order with Slice, an in­surance com­pany that pro­vides cov­er­age for the shar­ing econ­omy. Peo­ple rent­ing their homes on Airbnb or sim­i­lar ser­vices can pur­chase in­surance for the con­tents of those homes on-de­mand, through Slice’s app, and if there’s a claim, can up­load im­ages through the same app to get paid quickly.

Michael Ru­doy & Luke Cohler CO-FOUNDERS, JETTY

One of the ways in­surance is chang­ing through dig­i­tal­iza­tion is through more value-added ser­vices. That’s the core con­cept be­hind Michael Ru­doy (far left photo) and Luke Cohler’s renters in­surance startup, Jetty. In ad­di­tion to pro­vid­ing stan­dard renters in­surance cov­er­age — up­dated to re­flect the new re­al­i­ties of young pro­fes­sional ur­ban liv­ing — the com­pany also of­fers surety bond prod­ucts to help renters pay se­cu­rity de­posits and meet guar­an­tor re­quire­ments. And it takes un­der two min­utes to ap­ply through the com­pany’s on­line por­tal.

Scott Walchek CEO & FOUNDER, TROV

Way back in 2013, Scott Walchek took his “dig­i­tal locker” idea to AIG and Fire­man’s Fund and of­fered it to them as a ben­e­fit for their cus­tomers. Orig­i­nally, Trov — pro­nounced like “trove” — al­l­lowed pol­i­cy­hold­ers to cat­a­log their pos­ses­sions on­line for easy re­mu­ner­a­tion in case of a loss. But as the in­surtech in­dus­try con­tin­ued to evolve, so did Walchek’s vi­sion. To­day, Trov di­rectly of­fers in­surance cov­er­age, un­der­writ­ten by Mu­nich Re, for those pos­ses­sions. The sup­ple­men­tal in­surance pro­tects cus­tomers’ most valu­able items specif­i­cally, rather than buck­et­ing them un­der other in­sur­ances like home­own­ers, renters, or auto, of­fer­ing peace of mind around par­tic­u­larly ex­pen­sive or rare items like in­stru­ments.

Sean Katz CIO, VI­TAL­ITY

When South African health in­surer Dis­cov­ery first launched its Vi­tal­ity pro­gram in 1997, it was sim­ply a way to re­ward mem­bers for us­ing gyms to stay healthy. Now, nearly two decades later, the pro­gram has been spun off and is work­ing with sev­eral in­sur­ers to help quan­tify bio­met­ric data from wear­able tech­nol­ogy de­vices like FitBits and Ap­ple Watches. Katz runs the tech­nol­ogy depart­ment at Vi­tal­ity in the U.S., work­ing with part­ners like Man­ulife and John Han­cock on un­lock­ing the trends re­vealed by cus­tomers’ data and find­ing the right mix of dis­counts and perks to en­cour­age healthy be­hav­iors .

Mariel Devesa HEAD OF IN­NO­VA­TION, FARM­ERS

Farm­ers In­surance is tak­ing dig­i­tal­iza­tion very se­ri­ously, and Mariel Devesa is lead­ing the charge. A vet­eran of the com­pany, Devesa has served since 2013 as head of in­no­va­tion, with re­spon­si­bil­ity for not just com­ing up with new ideas, but an­tic­i­pat­ing broader cul­tural shifts that could im­pact the in­surance in­dus­try. Un­der her watch, Farm­ers was one of the first in­sur­ers to of­fer in­surance specif­i­cally for rideshar­ing driv­ers, in 2015. And this year, Devesa keyed the launch of Sig­nal, the com­pany’s us­age-based in­surance pro­gram that specif­i­cally tar­gets dis­trac­tions be­hind the wheel.

Far­ron Blanc VP, IN­NO­VA­TION STU­DIO, RGAX

In his role at RGAx, an in-house in­cu­ba­tor that’s part of Rein­sur­ance Group of Amer­ica, Far­ron Blanc is tasked with iden­ti­fy­ing com­pa­nies that can, he says, make in­surance a “more de­light­ful” ex­pe­ri­ence. Since 2015, Blanc has led in­vest­ments in five star­tups, the most re­cent be­ing in­surance so­cial me­dia plat­form Denim in April. But it’s Ever­plans, a dig­i­tal ar­chive that stores pol­i­cy­hold­ers’ cru­cial doc­u­ments for their loved ones to ac­cess af­ter death, that he says, which sums up RGAx’s mis­sion most ef­fec­tively. “Tra­di­tion­ally, the in­dus­try views pay­ment of a claim as hav­ing solved a ben­e­fi­ciary’s prob­lem,” he says. “It’s about tak­ing a wider view of a con­sumer’s life stage and cre­at­ing an ap­pro­pri­ate de­light­ful jour­ney to pro­vide them with pro­tec­tion and peace of mind.”

An­drew Rear CEO, MU­NICH RE DIG­I­TAL PART­NERS

Mu­nich Re is one of the most ac­tive in­sur­ers in sup­port­ing star­tups, and lead­ing that charge is An­drew Rear, head of the com­pany’s Dig­i­tal Part­ners divi­sion. Dig­i­tal Part­ners cur­rently works with eight star­tups and in­tends to grow part­ner­ships by at least 10 each year. It cur­rently backs some of the most promi­nent insurtechs in the mar­ket, in­clud­ing Trov and Slice, pro­vid­ing fi­nan­cial back­ing for their non­tra­di­tional in­surance prod­ucts.

Greg Barats PRES­I­DENT & CEO HARTFORD STEAM BOILER

In his po­si­tion as CEO of Hartford Steam Boiler, Barats has led the com­pany’s com­mit­ment to lev­er­ag­ing the power of the In­ter­net of Things for com­mer­cial lines. Un­der his watch, HSB has ac­quired two com­pa­nies that make man­age­ment plat­forms for con­nected de­vices: Meshify and Waygum. The car­rier also pro­vided the tech­nol­ogy pow­er­ing a model smarthome at sis­ter com­pany Amer­i­can Mod­ern. Most re­cently, it part­nered with Church Mu­tual to in­stall smart leak-de­tec­tion de­vices at sev­eral places of wor­ship, which tend to have prob­lems with older pipes that can freeze, burst and cause wa­ter dam­age or mold build-up. “This use of sen­sor tech­nol­ogy pro­vides an easy and ef­fec­tive way to help pre­vent losses and re­duce the dam­age when a loss does oc­cur,” Barats says.

Kuang Chen CEO & FOUNDER, CAPTRICITY

For life in­sur­ers, glean­ing in­for­ma­tion from paper forms has been a chal­lenge. Kuang Chen’s com­pany, Captricity has emerged as a leader in doc­u­ment dig­i­tal­iza­tion in that sec­tor, not just with the ac­tual con­ver­sion projects but also by mak­ing those doc­u­ments search­able and ap­ply­ing an­a­lyt­ics to the data within them to help life in­sur­ers bet­ter un­der­stand their cus­tomers and de­sign prod­ucts to serve them. Captricity’s plat­form is cur­rently in use by 13 life in­sur­ers. “Now more than ever, in­sur­ers need high-qual­ity, nor­mal­ized data to de­liver rev­enue-gen­er­at­ing busi­ness in­sights,” Chen says. “un­lock­ing the hid­den value in cus­tomer data presents a unique op­por­tu­nity to drive growth and cus­tomer ac­qui­si­tion.”

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