Munich Re is investing in insurtech start-ups via its subsidiary Digital Partners as it seeks to develop new insurance products and ways to sell insurance to consumers or small businesses.
Munich Re has, for example, in November 2016 partnered with app-based insurance provider Wrisk, an Insurtech venture, to become its exclusive carrier for business underwritten in the UK, Europe and US.
It is also funding California-based insurtech start-up Trov which offers on-demand insurance, enabling users to buy insurance for specific products, for specific amounts of time through their smartphones. Users can turn insurance on and off with a swipe and also file claims through the app.
The German reinsurer has also provided funding to Insurtech start-up Bought By Many which uses social media and search data to offer “insight-driven insurance”
At the same time, Bought By Many signed a long-term insurance agreement with Munich Re and with its Digital Partners business unit that encompasses underwriting, technology, carrier licenses, regulatory permissions, and venture capital.
Digital Partners continues to actively explore the market for new opportunities, said CEO Andy Rear in Willis Towers Watson’s Quarterly InsurTech Briefing.
“Our underwriting is automated, and we are interested in partnerships which enable automated data-gathering and machine learning,” Rear said.
“In the future, as the business reaches scale we will seek to innovate customer servicing and, in particular, claims,” Rear added.
To find new opportunities, Digital Partners typically uses a small team focused on meeting new partners and understanding the space, providing the first filter, Rear explained. Once this team has identified an interesting potential partner, the commercial team has a discussion about the parameters of a potential partnership. If a partnership is established, the delivery team will work with the partner to determine key deliverables and timing.
“This entire process takes 1-2 weeks. This is followed by a fairly intense 3-6 month period during which we develop the product and build the technology,” Rear explained.
After the partnership goes live, integrated data feeds allow Digital Partners to continuously monitor the business and explore where the partnership may go next.
Digital Partners seeks to build strategic partnerships rather than to act purely as a venture capital provider. But there is a lot of overlap between what the company looks for in a strategic partner and what a VC (Venture Capital) looks for in an investment. This includes a quality team, ambition to build a sizeable business, good technology, and a scalable business model.
Digital Partners also needs to ensure that its entrepreneur partners understand and respect that insurance is a highly regulated business, and that this will shape what is and is not possible, Rear noted.
“What I hope is that the ability to purchase insurance digitally will offer consumers the opportunity to share in the benefits of reduced operating cost, but also to be able to make their choice based on product quality and on the claims experience, rather than purely on price,” Rear said.
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Munich Re, Insurtech, Digital Partners, Technology, Insurance, Europe, UK