COVID-19 has made people acutely aware of the pressures placed on health professionals and insurance systems. Insurtech solutions that alleviate this are valuable, a point recognised at this year’s Efma-Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards.

Winning Gold in this year’s Insurtech category was bAIby (pronounced “baby”, but with AI – for “artificial intelligence” – in the middle). As any parent knows, the early days of infanthood are a rollercoaster of emotions, because knowing what a baby wants can be difficult. Persistent crying can lead new parents to dash to the doctor or to the hospital, although over the past year many will also have been deterred from doing so by the pandemic, adding to the stress of the situation.

bAIby’s BabyT translator uses AI to interpret a baby’s cries. In the first six months of his or her life these cries are a universal language that have five distinctive sounds, reflecting:

  • hunger
  • sleepiness
  • discomfort
  • trapped wind
  • and stomach pain

Zoundream is the brain behind the BabyT, the team that created the AI solution. But developing an AI solution for babies requires the collection of massive datasets. And this is exactly how HITS and Jeniot, two Generali innovation companies, helped Zoundream by enrolling young parents from Generali to test BabyT with their newborns in Italy and Switzerland to collect more baby cry data.

“Newborns talk with us, every time they cry. Every second of sound is an incredibly precious source of information, with literally millions of data points about baby needs, physical and mental status,” says Roberto Iannone, co-founder of Zoundream. “Today we finally have the tools to decipher that information.”

The technology even allows for the early detection of pathologies such as autism, hyperthyroidism, and hearing impairment. This kind of technology has the potential to change the relationship between insurers and their customers.

“Becoming a Lifetime Partner of our customers is the ambition that Generali anchored to its strategy, and young families are a key segment for the global insurer,” says Samyr Mezzour, Chief Innovation Officer at HITS.

“In other words, Generali would offer services, prevention and assistance beyond the classic protection provided by insurance coverage,” says Michele Serra, Head of Product Development, Delivery and R&D at Generali Jeniot. “If the first purpose of an insurance service is – first of all – to provide peace of mind, what better period to offer support to families than when there’s a new life?”

Finding a doctor in unfamiliar places

Easing pressures on individuals and health systems is also a major benefit of the Silver Award winner, Air Doctor. Those of us who have ever fallen sick overseas know the first temptation is to go to the hospital. The idea of finding a general practitioner can seem too difficult when navigating an unfamiliar health system. But going to the hospital is not always the best idea, sometimes incurring unnecessary costs and, as COVID-19 has shown, potentially adding another burden to an overloaded emergency department.

That’s where Air Doctor comes in. This digital platform provides travelers and expatriates with a network of physicians across 70 countries and six continents, along with details of their locations and specialisms in four languages. It provides a digital means through which to book appointments with them, whether at a clinic, at home or via telemedicine.

For insurers, Air Doctor affords a digital link to their customers, a network of physicians they can vet and approve, and a means of keeping patients out of high-cost hospitals, as well as away from hospitals potentially over-burdened by the pandemic. Again, Air Doctor is an example of how smart networks on an easy-to-use platform can make life easier for both consumers and providers.

Bringing insurance to customers in new ways

The Bronze winner in the Insurtech category is bolttech. Launched in 2020, bolttech spans 14 markets across North America, Asia and Europe, its platform responsible for more than US$5 billion in premiums. At the centre of bolttech’s ecosystem is its insurance exchange, the world’s largest platform of its kind. The exchange allows insurance underwriters to scale up their distribution instantly, reaching agents, brokers, carriers and even non-traditional distribution partners like retailers and telcos.

The company’s tech is underpinned by a rigorous testing philosophy and agile software development techniques that allow this digital native to pivot quickly when the market demands it.

“Innovation is in our DNA – we love experimentation, and we value the process as much as the outcomes,” says Rob Schimek, Group CEO at bolttech. “We place a premium on speed so we build our solutions in-house, allowing us to go to market faster and maintain our competitive advantage.”

As its name suggests, bolttech makes it as easy as possible for non-insurers to “bolt on” insurance to their customers’ online purchase journeys, deepening the relationship and easing concerns over, for example, buying a new phone and then dropping it on a hard floor.

This is particularly valuable in under-served markets where insurance penetration is low – cover against COVID-19 is one of the insurance lines that bolttech makes easier to access. In Thailand, the medical plans on the platform have self-declared underwriting – bringing instant, easy cover, with an average onboarding time of just 90 seconds.

The future of insurance is digital. bAIby, Air Doctor and bolttech demonstrate how the power of digital networks is making our lives healthier and less stressful, using Insurtech to mitigate risks in smart new ways that bring providers and customers closer together.

Insurtech mitigates risks in smart new ways that bring providers and customers closer together.


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