Future.Talk 1 / 2017 The Current InsurTech Landscape: Conference summary

What are the new InsurTech business models of the future? The first of 2017's Future Talks by the Institute of Insurance Economics of the University of St. Gallen (I.VW-HSG), in collaboration with the Swiss Re Institute, revealed the findings of their study at the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue. The panel was moderated by Prof. Dr. Alexander Braun, member of the executive board of I.VW-HSG.

The new academic study on the current InsurTech landscape, has been prepared by I.VW-HSG in cooperation with the Swiss Re Institute. The release of the study, which is coauthored by Prof. Dr. Braun and Dr. Florian Schreiber (also from I.VW-HSG), was embedded in a high-class program with four presentations by distinguished speakers. In the first presentation, Mr. Schreiber provided an outline of the study, particularly focusing on the results of a corresponding survey. In summary, the study takes a detailed look at the current InsurTech landscape from the angle of the academic management literature. Its goals are to establish a common understanding of key concepts, to facilitate the navigation of this rapidly evolving sector, and to provide an intuitive toolkit for an assessment of the entrants’ disruptive potential as well as the selection of adequate response strategies by incumbents.

Following the talk of Mr. Schreiber, Dr. Andreas Schertzinger (Swiss Re) presented on the growth opportunities and challenges associated with the rise of the InsurTech sector. Mr. Schertzinger pointed out that there is a real opportunity in managing new risks, tackling unmet consumer demands, and taking advantage of the ability to serve consumers better. Furthermore, he suggested that moving towards a fully digital value chain, insurance companies should be able to increase efficiency and offer additional value for their customers. Finally, Mr. Schertzinger discussed the potential of InsurTech to reduce global protection gaps, which, at the same time, would be a means for established industry players to grow their insurance premium volumes.

The third talk of the day was given by Julian Teicke, CEO of the InsurTech startup wefox (formerly known as Finance Fox). Based in Germany, Switzerland, Spain, and Austria, wefox is the largest InsurTech startup in Europe. It was founded in November 2014 in Switzerland and grew to 120,000 customers in only 18 months. Essentially the firm offers an app and web-based service platform that combines insurance expertise with the latest digital technology and enables consumers, brokers, and insurance companies to manage their insurance products and processes intelligently and efficiently. During his presentation, Mr. Teicke gave a detailed introduction to the digital broker business model of his firm and emphasized opportunities for cooperation with insurance companies and traditional brokers.

The last presentation was held by Minh Q. Tran, general partner at AXA Strategic Ventures, a venture capital fund dedicated to strategic innovations in the financial services industry. Mr. Tran analyzed the InsurTech space from the venture capitalist’s perspective, thereby focusing on early stage investments. His talk conveyed three main points. First, investors need a clear framework that enables them to search worldwide for disruptive innovation. Second, he pointed out that due to its size, its entry barriers, its clear use cases for technology, and its late start in terms of digitization, the insurance industry is a natural target for disruption. Third, successful investing in the InsurTech space can be supported by a new-fangled investment platform, which automatically screens the startup landscape on a global scale and enables smaller investors to access attractive club deals.

Finally, Prof. Dr. Braun moderated a panel discussion with all four speakers. Focus areas of the discussion included the potential of the digital broker model, business model innovations of digital insurance companies, the evolution of the InsurTech sector along the insurance industry value chain, and a vision for the ecosystem in 2025. After a final Q&A session, the Future.Talk ended with a networking opportunity at the Center for Global Dialogue, which allowed participants to exchange thoughts and discuss their views with the speakers.

Summary of the Future.Talk1 2017 hosted by the Swiss Re Institute in May 2017 at the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue.