The swell of FinTech over the last several years has enabled entrepreneurs and venture capital to stumble into the insurance industry in a major way. The $1.2 trillion industry (trillion with a “t”!) that is largely entrenched in 1990’s technology has gotten a lot of people’s attention, and rightly so.
Based on the simple thesis above, many pitches have been spun and hundreds of millions of dollars in capital have been invested. It’s become cliche to state that the insurance industry is tragically uninspiring when it comes to innovation. But it’s also fair to say that we’re still waiting for all this excitement to bear some fruit. It still remains to be seen if InsureTech is here to stay or if it’s just a blip that will eventually sputter.
There is no doubt in my mind that this is more than just a blip. In fact, having been in this space for close to 5 years (in different capacities), real progress feels more imminent right now than it has at any other time. I am more bullish on InsureTech today than I have been in the past.
I feel this way primarily because:
- It’s become common and fashionable for large industry incumbents (insurance companies, agents/brokerage, etc.) to support and partner with InsureTech startups in formalized ways. Incumbents have turned the corner from being resistant/skeptical to being enablers of change.
- Technology changes rapidly and consumers expect more. It’s proven challenging for industry incumbents to learn and deploy these new technologies independently within their existing legacy infrastructure.
- A wealth of ready venture and corporate capital remains enthralled with the $1.2 trillion industry opportunity and shows no signs of drying up.
Sure, there will be companies that struggle and never find the right model, the right product/market fit, or the right balance of technical/insurance talent that is critically needed. However, generally speaking, I think we’re about 6–12 months shy of seeing several major InsureTech successes.
I believe we’re entering Phase 2 of the InsureTech progression and it will be much more impact-driven than Phase 1. Phase 1 was largely focused on bringing startup driven principles and methodologies to the space in an effort to drive better user experiences. This is enormously needed and essential to success, but also a bit of table stakes.
Phase 2 will be more substantive. I see deeper relationships and partnerships being codified between startups and incumbents, more focus on end-to-end experience as opposed to just front-end flashiness and more real insurance product disruption as opposed to just facade.
At QBIS, we believe that emerging innovators will thrive if the segment as a whole continues to thrive. The “all boats will rise” metaphor makes sense to us and it’s why we try to take an open-source approach to the advancement of the InsureTech ecosystem.
The more we collaborate and share with others, the more influence and credibility we will all have on making a lasting and valuable contribution to the insurance value chain. The space is large and there is plenty of room for many companies to succeed.
Our ambitions at QBIS lie in empowering outside organizations to better transact with the insurance consumer of the future and engage in more modern and efficient ways. We think we have a pretty good idea of what it’s going to take on our part to be successful – and it won’t be easy – but our chances of success will certainly be increased if the whole movement continues to thrive.
I can only hope that Phase 3 is one in which startups work together and start to embed themselves into existing insurance structures and systems in fundamental and permanent ways.
There certainly is more opportunity, support and optimism for our ideas than there ever has been in the past 5 years. Incumbents have embraced the fact that startups can help them stay competitive in a consumer-centric driven world.
So as startups, it’s really on us now to deliver real value to prove that we’re here to stay.