Canadian Underwriter

A common mistake P&C organizations make when working with insurtechs

August 28, 2020   by Adam Malik

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A common blunder the insurance industry makes when working with an insurtech is mistakenly expecting the partnership to be a one-size-fits-all for every issue they’re facing, according to insurtech leaders.

In fact, experts said during a recent webinar, you are better off partnering with multiple insurtechs to tackle multiple problems. In other words, work with one insurtech to solve one particular issue, and then a different one for a separate challenge. And the various insurtech companies can work together collaboratively to move the company forward.

“It’s important as a company to understand where you want to park and understand that you’re not going to find a ‘one-size-fits-all,’” said Ian Jeffrey, co-founder and CEO at Breathe Life in Montreal. “But some of these insurtechs play very, very nicely together and having a group of them working together to solve your need, is, I believe, the key to success.”

Insurance companies and brokers are better off finding the best company in each area rather than a mediocre one that dabbles in multiple areas, he added during the webinar, Innovating with Insurtechs — A How To. “Finding the ‘best-in-breed’ for each one of them is really, really important.”

Clockwise from top left, Jason Gross of EMC Insurance (moderator), Ian Jeffrey of Breathe Life, Jane Wang of Optimity, and Harsh Shah of Socotra take part in a webinar, “Innovating with Insurtechs — A How To.”

Essential for undergoing a digital transformation is to put the customer at the centre of everything you do, observed panellist Jane Wang, CEO at Optimity, a Toronto-based company that works with 11 carriers between Canada and the United States to provide corporate wellness solutions through a digital platform. Any digital advancement needs to be done with the strategy of making the experience better for the customer first and foremost.

“If you look at these carriers that we work with…we’re at the heart of that consumer-centric, customer-centric, digital strategy,” she said. “They have us embedded in their strategic plans and in their roadmap.”

Failing to commit to a consumer-centric approach is a warning sign for Wang. If a carrier or broker isn’t going to make that commitment, then things won’t work out between that P&C organization and the insurtech, she said.

“The red flags and the positive factors that I’m looking for is that alignment to the strategy, and looking at bandwidth and resource allocation from both the carriers and our side,” Wang said.

There are ways to find out which insurtech company would make for an ideal partner, webinar panellists noted. For example, Harsh Shah, director at San Francisco-based Socotra, said P&C organizations should be asking current insurtech partners for recommendations.

He also pointed to the venture capital network. “Many of these folks are investing in [insurtech]; they’ve done the research, they’ve done the due diligence for you,” he said. “They’re already evaluating the landscape and placing bets on who they think has a viable business, a strong product, [and] impressive traction.”

Shah also recommended keeping up with the business and trade publications. “Who is consistently showing up?” he said. “Analysts are another great source…Who are they seeing in this space?”


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