Enough for now on COVID-19- let’s consider what can the insurance industry expect as the world slowly pivots back to normalcy, whatever that will be? The insurance industry is a five trillion USD business, and while aspects of the industry remain in flux as of this date, insurance does carry on as a foundation of business, ownership, contracts, transportation, life, etc. Insurance has been undergoing innovation focus for some years so in anticipation of what’s next, let’s take a look at one organization’s view of that very thing- ideas that are made to influence insurance change- the Global Insurance Accelerator (GIA).
Patrick Kelahan is a CX, engineering & insurance consultant, working with Insurers, Attorneys & Owners in his day job. He also serves the insurance and Fintech world as the ‘Insurance Elephant’.
The GIA functions as “a mentor-driven business accelerator designed to foster innovation in the insurance industry by supporting InsurTech startups targeting the global insurance industry.” As such the GIA hosts a selected cohort of startups over a one-hundred-day period at their facilities in Des Moines, Iowa, a full-immersion environment of mentored development of the respective firms’ concepts. GIA Managing Director, Nicole (Cook) Gunderson notes another key aspect of this accelerator- sponsorship by established carriers and a token equity position being taken by the sponsor firm(s).
The recent graduating cohort was comprised of seven firms from diverse insurance line focus:
- DenScore, software solution for dental insurers, leveraging dental claims data and patient feedback to measure dentists’ clinical performance
- Caregiven, digital engagement and support tool offered as a group benefit by employers, ensures aging or ailing loved ones benefit from a higher quality of life.
- Kiwi Insure, a social media focused analytics firm that risk scores customers before engagement in outdoor or sports activities and distribute personalized insurance products to customers on a demand or ‘gig’ basis.
- Summary Medical, innovation to search and auto-review medical records, a hub for the review of medical records in life insurance underwriting.
- Insurevite, virtual claim service focused on medical claims utilizing claim bot technology.
- UdoTest, at home health screening developer and marketer with a full suite of do at home health tests.
- Gerald Technologies, B2B digital SaaS acting as an info bridge between the insured and insurer.
With the GIA’s goal of providing a fertile development environment and intensive advisory services within the Accelerator’s 100 day period, the cohort went full steam ahead January 14 of this year. As with the rest of the business world, the GIA began its required virtual operation March 16. The apparent success of the virtual adaptation was evident in the Virtual Pitch Event the program sponsored on day 100, as the reader can access here on the presentation video- 2020 GIA Cohort Companies’ Presentations.
As I listened to each org’s pitch I considered the respective firm’s goals, the approach and delivery as currently exists, and then posed a question or two by email for each founder. While I was unable to obtain responses from all of the cohort’s members, I did receive information from a majority. My thoughts- no matter how engaging the idea there has to be a purpose customers see and are willing to pay for.
Knowing that DenScore’s focus is helping program enrollees make better choices about dental care based on a ‘best dental providers’ network, I asked founder KyleGernhofer:
DF “Does the proposed rating service provide information that carriers will pay for absent immediate proof of financial worth?”
KG “Absolutely! In addition to DenScore’s financial appeal, most of our conversations with dental insurers circle back to their desire to better serve their stakeholders (ie. enrollees, employers, dentists, brokers) which has been so refreshing to hear! Dental insurers love the fact that we’ve designed DenScore to provide added value to their entire customer base because this will ultimately lead to a stronger network and a resulting boost in net earnings.”
So it seems the ongoing potential benefit of the firm’s concept is through continuing assessment of patients’ experiences, carriers’ use of real-time ratings monitoring dental providers in not only knowing who is a good performer, but in providing under-performers feedback to improve how they serve clients.
A provider of a safe, convenient and easy to use caregiving platform for family members to use for structure, support, and guidance needed to manage the final years of a loved one, Caregiven is the idea of founder Candice Smith. The service is marketed to life and health insurance companies, and to employee benefits providers as a digital engagement and support tool.
DF “Soft benefits can get lost in the suite of benefits an employer can provide. Seems awareness is the first hurdle for Caregiven; what other marketing avenues are being considered besides employee benefits presentations to build exposure for the firm’s services?”
CS “One of Caregiven’s values is to reach those individuals who need it, when they need it, in as frictionless a way as possible. Therefore we are going-to-market as an employee benefit because there is such a gap in the services offered to employees caring for an aging or ailing loved-one. Caregivers themselves suggested this channel as one of the first entities impacted by their new family caregiving obligations and proclivity they have to trusting benefits provided by their employer.”
Build the tool as a soft benefit an employer provides and build from the employee community aspect one can get from one’s employer and leverage the organizational and prompting aspects an application can provide a family caregiver. That’s the firm’s unique approach.
Per Kiwi Insure’s founder, Evgeny Aleksandrov, “Insurance is hard. It’s hard for customers because it’s poor experience, confusing and prefer to not think about. It’s hard for insurance companies because it’s expensive to sell, takes long time and often times the ultimate customers are not clear. Using analytics to distribute with personalized offers at the time the product is most relevant to the customer and the design innovative products that fit people’s lifestyle.”
DF “Kiwi Insure provides a variety of covers- are they all indemnity-based, or are some simply triggered by an occurrence? Kiwi has an insurance partner; is Kiwi an MGA, full stack carrier with rei backing, or other? Is the insurance partner also assisting with claim handling and severity spikes?”
EA “Kiwi offers product that fits people lifestyles. They are easy to understand, fit for purpose, and on-demand. We currently focus on offering individual indemnity accident / injury product that insured can turn on/off whenever they need it most. Kiwi acts as an agency passing on the capital risk to our carrier. Our carrier assists with claims.”
Clever social media analysis that can prompt a customer to trigger cover for the ‘adventure’ period and can provide additional intelligent ‘nudges’ for cross sold products. As a sort of MGA the firm’s utility to its carrier partner(s) is essentially prequalified leads.
As many others have found there is a need to better organize medical records for use in many healthcare or insurance tasks, including wrestling the demon of unstructured data- both in volume and in accessibility. Summary Medical’s founder, Clint Laskowski, has first hand knowledge of the challenges being an IT professional working with large life carriers.
DF “OCR, NLP, and security/privacy protection are not entirely unique concepts. What differentiation does Summary Medical provide that would be a discouraging barrier to entry for other firms with similar AI tech?”
CL “With regards to the excellent points in your second question, I can’t get into specifics other than to say that we believe we have some advantages, but (1) we are not ready to share these yet, and (2) we see a bright future in the application of NLP and ML when it comes to understanding unstructured data.”
I like the no-answer answer- confidence in the pursuit, not yet at proof of concept but cognizant that at first blush the idea appears to be more of the same. Looking at the three words, “understanding unstructured data” hints at the firm not only organizing medical records/data, but doing it in a manner leveraging NLP and ML such that the access software provide an optimized search tool that is superior, less costly, and faster than competition. How they look in the Fall of 2020 will tell.
As an enterprise InsurTech, InsureVite’s founder, David Yeng advises the firm “helps insurers transform customer experience through messaging apps.” The concept is designed to provide bilateral claim handling benefits to carriers and insureds through accessibility, ease of submission, and speed of resolution enhancements.
DF “Who pays for the InsureVite costs, and what prevents other carriers from developing parallel or replacement tech?”
DY ” We combine communications and automation into one, and is probably the first in the insurtech industry to do so on messaging apps. Our target payors are the traditional Property & Casualty insurers, who struggle to transform digitally and have spent large amount of money trying to do so with little to no success. Our defensibility is our flexibility, speed and cost of deployment. Whilst insurers can try to emulate us, it’ll cost them 10x as much, and up to 18 months longer.”
So an “off the rack”, buy, not build option for incumbents that are searching for answers to improve customer communication through digital methods. Of course it is then on the carriers to build efficiency behind the communication (can’t effectively place lipstick upon a pig.)
The other firms in the cohort, Gerald Technology (Ola Okeshola), and Udo Test ( Allison Martin ), had not had time to finalize their responses to the DF questions prior to publication, but it’s certain the answers would have ‘fleshed out’ the short pitches the firms’ founders provided in the virtual presentation. I recommend watching the pitch video to get an idea of what projects the GIA found meaningful, and the projects that some major carriers found useful to support.
Credit is to be given the GIA and the cohort for adapting to the virtual environment needed to complete the session, and for the successful virtual pitch finale. Whether the startups’ respective success carries on to integration into the insurance and customer service environment- that we will all wait to see.
What is certain- innovative ideas will carry on past the immediate COVID-19 period.
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