25 September 2017Insurance

Adapt to survive an uncertain future, warns insurtech start-up founder

“The difficulties that the car insurance industry faces today are the ones of a legacy industry adapting in a fast-changing world.”

That is how Andreas Alamanos, founder of insurtech start-up PODIS, and Harry Mylonas, partner at the start-up, define this part of the insurance sector. As such they argue that the industry must adapt to survive in this not-so-well defined future.

Alamanos is one of more than 20 start-up founders discussing how insurers can engage with consumers at the annual Intelligent InsurTECH conference on October 3 in London. Click here to find out more.

With new technologies constantly being developed and clients that live in the online world, the client relationship is being transformed and insurers need to figure out which course of digital innovation to follow.

“New strategic plans must be defined in order to realise a concrete digital innovation path along with its success factors, one that now must be flexible enough to change,” said Mylonas.

Alamanos expects change management to become critical for car insurers.

This is because the insurers have to make sure that everyone in their team is working towards the same goal, while creating the mentality that any direction may well change, without this being perceived as having taken a wrong decision earlier, he explained.

Although insurers are taking advantage of new technologies with a strong preference towards cloud and public cloud offerings, the uptake rate is “notably slow”, said Mylonas.

He added: “It’s important to keep in mind that this is happening in the context of organisations that evolved in a legacy environment. The first insurance contract was documented in the 14th century, while more sophisticated ones appeared in London in the 17th century.”

But over the past ten years, the car insurance industry has definitely changed on the client side of things, and the majority of insurers have fallen behind in this evolution.

“This can be hard to address when an organisation is partially working in a legacy manner exactly as they did ten years ago,” said Alamanos.

It’s not all doom and gloom—nowadays, car insurance companies have access to large insurtech market that can help them move forward on the digital innovation front.

Mylonas went on to caution: “Internal and cultural changes remain, however, a responsibility of the insurance companies themselves.”

The idea behind PODIS (POst DIstress Signal) began with the IoT evolution, explained Alamanos.

The team was convinced that mobile phones would act as catalysts for the IoT expansion for three reasons: they’re designed to sense their environment, they don’t demand any infrastructure investments, and they’re commodities.

PODIS’s patented technology offers a cloud-based automatic crash notification solution, an app that users install on their smart phones.

“We disrupted the market because we’re using a commodity, a smartphone, to provide a life-saving solution,” added Mylonas.

Alamanos admitted that the smart phones lack the functionality and reliability required for a life-depending device.

However, “a smartphone using its sensors can recognise an impending accident from an unusual change of its kinetic state and pass this critical, but not definite, information to an external monitoring system before it is destroyed by the crash”.

A distress signal leaves the phone, before its possible destruction. The alarm will be cancelled if phone remains operational after the suspicious event.

PODIS is one of more than 20 insurtech startups attending Intelligent Insurer’s Intelligent InsurTECH conference on October 3 in London. Click here to find out more.

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