Insurtech Insights Insights

Toby MacLachlan, 17 March 2022

I’ve just spent two days at the Insurtech insights conference in London.

First off, the conference was better than I had expected. It had maybe 50 exhibitors and four easily accessible stages with genuinely varied and well curated content. There was a fair amount of the usual corporate billy bollocks of brand ambassadors wheeled out to spout generic nonsense about the importance of ‘data’ and ‘digital’ as a thinly veiled sales pitches for their company’s services. 

But a lot of the content was good. Companies such as Collective Benefits and Bought By Many gave honest and insightful war stories about the reality of building a tech enabled business in insurance. Some of the smaller companies there with less presence in the UK also made some powerful pitches in the 10-minute technology feature slots.

Here are my two main conference takeaways: 

  1. Insurtech is starting to be something I don’t want to be associated with quite so directly
  2. The advantage of experience is becoming apparent – and unproven tech is easier to spot than ever before

Why don’t I like insurtech so much any more? Well lets start with the word: what is Insurtech? It could be defined as anything technological in the insurance arena. This is a pretty useless definition as almost everything done in insurance involves some degree of technology and therefore everything is insurtech.  It’s easier to define things in opposition: insurtech is the opposite of legacy tech.  I think that is how people think of insurtech – as the new and bleeding edge of insurance technology.  

And that was what the conference was full of: companies with great ideas and great tech, almost none of which was proven at scale. All of them claiming it’s possible to launch their product in a matter of days or weeks, and that it is product (i.e. line of business) agnostic.  I’m not a buyer, but if I was I could think of no bigger turn-off than those sort of promises.  It just screams naivety and lack of enterprise experience.  Having taken Ignite from a concept on the kitchen table to processing millions in quotes and premiums every month, I know firsthand the unexpected growing pains of scaling up an insurtech and the utter impossibility of launching a genuinely market-ready and integrated system in days. 

So that is the reason I’m not sure I want to be associated quite so directly with insurtech anymore.  I want to be associated with a new middle ground (let’s call it midtech for want of anything better).  I’d define it like this: a core insurance system that is not AI, not no-code, not blockchain, not embedded, but which is proven at scale, with an established customer base, cloud-based, API ready, and specialist in particular product lines.  Way better than legacy, able to integrate with insurtech, but not insurtech.

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