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Digital innovation appears to be gathering momentum in the insurance industry.
Accenture conducts a worldwide survey of insurance leaders every year as part of the research for the annual Tech Vision for Insurance report. The results this year reveal near-unanimous agreement among insurance leaders that the pace of technological change is picking up.
Firms that specialize in using cutting-edge technology to add value to insurance sit at the intersection of these trends. Their products leverage technologies like artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and big data analytics.
According to CB Insights data, investment in insurtech firms hit $1.6 billion last year. In 2015 insurtech firms attracted nearly $2.6 billion, but that figure includes two outlier deals: a $500 million investment in the HR software firm Zenefits and a $931 million investment in the Chinese insurer Zhong An. If those two deals are excluded, 2016’s total represents year-over-year growth of 37.2 percent.
The number of insurtech deals has increased at a greater rate in recent years, reaching 216 in 2016 from 140 in 2015 and 102 the year before that. The sector has attracted almost $6.3 billion in investment to date.
Insurtechs run from San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and New York City have traditionally attracted the most investment worldwide. This held true in 2016, with American-based firms pulling in 56 percent of all investment.
Outside the US the distribution is much more diffuse. The number two investment destination, the UK, attracted just 7 percent of all investment. Germany at 6 percent, China at 5 percent, and Canada at four percent round out the top five countries for insurtech investment.
Though still heavily skewed in favour of the US, this global investment breakdown actually reveals a shift away from earlier years of even greater US domination. The more global flavour of today’s insurtech space is most apparent if investments are examined on a city-by-city basis.
Accenture analysis reveals that 136 insurtech investment deals were executed in Silicon Valley last year. San Francisco attracted 82, while New York City rounds out the top three with 58. Outside this the distribution becomes more global, with firms based in cities like London, Gurgaon, Berlin, and Toronto attracting significant numbers of deals.
At the beginning of this year Accenture research tallied all publicly known insurtech investments. These are the ten biggest insurtech firms by investment.
1. Zhong An is an Internet-based P&C insurer headquartered in Shanghai. It has received $931 million in funding in two deals since launching in late 2013. It generates most of its revenue through return-delivery insurance for buyers on Taobao.com, Alibaba’s flagship online marketplace in China.
2. Oscar Health is a New York-based insurtech which has received $728 million in funding to date from six different deals. Oscar uses natural language processing technology to analyse the symptoms reported by patients and connect them with appropriate doctors.
3. Zenefits provides cloud-based HR services, with a focus on managing health insurance benefits. Headquartered in San Francisco, it has received $584 million in funding in six deals.
4. Clover Health combines analytics with health insurance claims data to help health care providers proactively manage patient health. The San Francisco-based firm has received $295 million in funding in four deals.
5. MetroMile is a pay-as-you-drive insurer. Based in San Francisco, it has received $206 million in funding in five deals since its founding in 2011.
6. Castlight Health helps employers and employees save money and make smarter choices with an innovative online health insurance app. It has received $178 million of funding in four deals.
7. Collective Health is a cloud-based health insurance platform run from California. It has received $119 million in three deals since 2013.
8. Namely is a brokerage platform for HR, benefits, and payroll software. Based in New York City, it has received $153 million in funding.
9. Goji is an online insurance agency. It allows users to easily compare prices across 12 different P&C insurance carriers and pick policies. Based in Boston, it has received $95 million in funding in nine deals.
10. PlanSource is a cloud-based HR and administration platform. Headquartered in Orlando, it has received $94 million in funding in three deals.
This list provides a thumbnail sketch of the insurtech space. Nine of the 10 firms are based in America, while a plurality are connected with the healthcare industry. Yet the list is not exclusively American nor exclusively connected with health insurance; a sign that insurtech has started to diversify.
Yet this still captures just one side of the story. Who are the investors supplying the funds listed above? Come back next week for a look at where insurtech funding is coming from, and for some analysis of insurtech’s implications for the industry as a whole.
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