Interview with Rintu Patnaik about the future of Insurtech


Insurtech started later than BankTech but the disruption seems to be happening faster. As the Insurance market globally is over $5,000 billion a year, this is a big deal and why we have been covering Insurtech every day since this first post in 2015.

As 80 percent of Insurance growth comes from Emerging markets, it made sense to talk to somebody in one of these markets. 

So I was delighted when Rintu Patnaik, an Insurtech expert based in India, agreed to speak to me about how Insurtech innovation will change our world.

I started off by asking Rintu to tell us a bit about his background and how he got involved with Insurtech.

The lockdown induced WFH rekindled my writing verve. I’ve been an active contributor on Insurtech for the past few months. I graduated in the nineties in engineering and finance, in an India that was opening up and Y2K was facing us. Over the first decade, I worked in South East Asia and US, in finance and health tech. Over the last decade, I’ve gravitated to insurtech and digital health businesses. I hope to leverage my rounded experiences of working in senior positions in the insurance/tech sector and as an entrepreneur in health tech, in leading discussions on current trends and future course.

I then asked Rintu to tell us 5 things:

What do you think has been holding back the wider adoption of Insurtech?

I think what is holding back the wider adoption of insurtech is in the mind of the customer. They do not see insurance as it exists today, to be valuable enough. They would buy it most typically when they have to. The day this battle is won, insurers will start to write a bold, new chapter. There are multiple ways in which we are gaining an edge in this battle, by improved customer proximity, by a shift from protection to prevention, by transforming into a trusted partner with innovative products that upend the traditional indemnity concept and service models that trump the customer experience.

What has been the single most critical innovation in the history of Insurtech to date?

To my mind, the single most critical innovation has been the seamless extension of the value chain via open and interconnected platforms. With that, the ability of carriers to expand their reach, build stronger customer intimacy and piggyback on adjacent market players has received a tremendous boost. While carriers using banca models to sell insurance or through travel agents and other affinity partners isn’t new, the ability to do so with little friction using technology has been a game-changer. With this, innovators from elsewhere have also joined the fray and are vying to disrupt.

– What is the one innovation currently lacking in  Insurtech that you would like to see?

The subject of innovation is intriguing. It occurs gradually and then suddenly it inundates us. There is a surfeit of innovation and probably there is someone already working on your idea. Having said that, the industry seems to be far from achieving the holy grail of data intelligence. Key to that is the ability to tap into data points, complement it with diverse other signals and coerce it all to personalize, predict and profitably pervade the user experience. As DLT, IoT and other new tech reach mainstream adoption, the need to be much smarter with data will likely consume inordinate attention.

In which parts of the market do you see  Insurtech having the biggest impact?

I see the pace of insurtech adoption accelerating in most parts of the world, taking shape differently based on local contexts. One area ripe for a large impact is microinsurance at the base of the pyramid, in the developing world. It’s a big market, relatively untapped and necessary for financial inclusivity. The next one I would say, comprise lines where smart devices, wearables and IOT have become the rage, starting with auto to property to health. Of these, I believe health is where both from a payor and provider perspective, insurtech can have a substantial influence.

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