My dad worked in insurance for forty years and he subscribes to the RiskGenius blog. One day he emailed me: "Why aren't you writing about RiskGenius?"
We just published a RiskGenius ebook on insurance innovation, which you can download now. If you read it -- you have read it, right? -- you will notice that we feature eight insurance technology ("insurtech") startup companies. There is no mention of our product, RiskGenius, until the very last page. This was entirely on purpose.
I can think of three good reasons for why I like to focus on everything but RiskGenius when writing these blog posts.
Reason 1: Insurance Technology Domain Expertise is Essential
When the idea of RiskGenius started percolating among me and my co-workers, none of us knew about "insurtech" or realized it was a burgeoning industry. For the previous four years, we had been struggling to build our claim document management business. Before we named our new product, we simply were building a machine learning policy review application. I will never forget where I was when we came up with the name RiskGenius (a hotel in Chicago).
Now fast forward two weeks from the birth of the RiskGenius name: that's when I found out about PolicyGenius. And all of the other crazy insurance company names that are out there. I found out about these names because I started paying attention to the insurtech scene. It would have been helpful to have this information before naming our product (sorry Jennifer!).
Since then, I have been paying close attention. There are some extremely cool ideas in the insurtech space. I've met one group of smart insurtech folk and we have created a secret Slack channel. I met up with a number of insurtech folks over the last few months at conferences -- these meetups would not have happened if I did not plug myself into the insurtech community.
If you are building an insurtech product, you need to know what else is out there. If you work at an incumbent insurance technology vendor (sorry, not insurtech in my book) then you better figure out what insurtech is up to. And, if you are a carrier or broker, you better figure out how to leverage the right sector of the insurtech community or have a darn good theory on why you can ignore insurtech.
To summarize, writing about insurtech helps me figure out what everyone else is up to.
Reason 2: Founders Deserve Recognition
Recently, on Linkedin, a poster commented something to the effect that insurance technology startups are "pimples" on the billion dollar insurance industry. This comment annoyed me for a number of reasons. First, at one point, all insurance carriers, brokers and technology vendors were "pimples" that started with zero revenue and just a product idea. Second, rooting for companies or people to fail is a bad form. And third, the insurance industry needs innovation. These insurance technology startups are filling an important void whether they succeed or not.
I can personally be hard on insurtech startups. I have told insurtech founders that they need a new business model, that their pitch deck is ugly, or that they aren't solving a real pain. But that does not mean the insurtech builders don't deserve respect.
For the haters out there, we get it: most insurtech companies will fail. The ridiculously long sales cycles are enough to make a sane person lose their mind. But, to quote one of my favorite artists:
"At least I tried."
Hopefully, the RiskGenius blog, and all of the other incredible insurtech publications out there (I have found a few), can do these aspiring insurtech companies justice.
So for all the insurtech haters out there -- At Least They Tried.
Reason 3: Focusing On Others Helps Me Focus on RiskGenius
As I have studied other insurtech companies, I have learned from them and extrapolated lessons to my company.
There are three big lessons I have learned from insurtech startups that I have applied to my business. I will likely expand on each of these in a later blog post:
- Do you have an insurtech monopoly? (Explain it in a simple positioning statement)
- Are the carriers ready for your tech? (Short Answer: NO)
- Do you *really* have interesting, structured data and what can you do with it?
Now go read some Seth Godin. It's good for your business soul.