How is new technology disrupting the insurance industry?

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Nobody likes dealing with insurance companies. But imagine someone who will pay your request in seconds rather than weeks or months. That’s the promise of Lemonade, the flagship carrier of new insurtech companies trying to disrupt the sleepy and conservative insurance industry. In 2017, Lemonade set a new world record for clearing a claim in just three seconds.

A New Yorker named Brandon stole his $1,000 Canada Goose coat on a freezing January night. So to report a claim, she opened the Lemonade app on her iPhone and recorded a one-minute video report of where she bought the jacket and what had happened. Three seconds after hitting the submit button, the claim was accepted by the firm’s anti-fraud algorithm and the cash was in Brandon’s bank account.

The worried CEOs of traditional insurance companies in New York and London couldn’t believe it when the news began to spread. On July 2, 2020, Lemonade held its initial public offering (IPO). The company was backed by high-profile tech investors like SoftBank and Baillie Gifford. At the end of the day, the share price rose 139% from its IPO price of $29 to over $69, prompting market commentators to say bankers sadly underestimated the shock suffered by Lemonade and auto insurance peers Metromile and Root. they would give it to the old-fashioned insurance market.

Lemonade was the new Amazon to take over the tired Barnes & Nobles of the insurance world. By August 2021, Lemonade’s market cap had reached $10 billion. Metromile, a pay-as-you-go car insurer for occasional drivers, and Root, which bases its prices on driving data collected from policyholders, were listed on the U.S. stock market soon after.

Growth is slowing, not losses

A lot has changed in the 20 months since then. Three major disruptors failed to make the breakthrough that analyst cheerleaders predicted, and all three are currently trading around 80-90% below their highest prices. This is partly because “jam tomorrow” tech stocks like Lemonade are no longer in vogue, as investors favor companies that are profitable today.

But more importantly, it turns out that selling insurance isn’t as easy as selling books or even providing banking services to small business customers. So what went wrong and what do the current numbers look like? All three continue to grow their revenues, but growth slows and remains an insignificant part of the $1.3 trillion US insurance market.

Unfortunately, the losses are growing much faster. When an insurer underprices its business, it is very difficult to fix while it continues to grow. Rising prices are driving business away, and the young customers of these insurtechs are particularly price sensitive. It is also an industry with limited economies of scale.

The biggest cost is to pay compensation and this grows in proportion to the number of customers. Lemonade had to raise additional funds, diluting shareholders and causing the share price to plummet.

The concept behind these companies’ business models was to enable technology to accurately price insurance risks, understand claims trends, and target pricing more effectively to maximize sales.

They are considering hiring more coders and data scientists than insurers, claims and call center staff. To use the Canada Goose example, if your technology can verify certain elements of the claim – such as whether the shop from which the coat was purchased is a registered stockist and the price appears to be correct – then you don’t need to use expensive compensation assessors. to process the claim.

Three basic mistakes

Unfortunately, Lemonade and others made some fundamental mistakes in their business model. While it may seem obvious to target the tech-savvy millennials, in practice they make poor customers for insurers because they have little insurance. The asset-light generation that rents out their accommodations, uses Uber and Zipcar instead of owning a car, and even rents out their music collections from Spotify. Lemonade has also decided to have an “everything zero” offer where no rate hikes are guaranteed and no overruns are applied to claims. This encouraged customers to simply use their policy as a cash machine and claim for every little scratch. The timing of the launch and expansion of these challengers also coincided with the absolute bottom of the insurance pricing cycle after several years of price drops. Gaining market share from officials meant further reducing already low prices. Insurance is also a highly regulated industry, particularly in the United States, where pricing must be filed and agreed with the state insurance commission.

Finally, selling insurance is not like selling books. Insurance is an intangible product, a promise to pay in the future if something bad happens. This is why reputation and brand awareness are more important than most other industries. Will a start-up with a silly name really be there for you when you need it — when your house floods or you get sick on vacation?

Knowing that your policy is with a well-established firm will help you sleep at night. Some of these pitfalls could have been avoided if there had been a few more people with insurance industry experience on the management staff and boards of Lemonade and others.

lessons for industry

The future looks tough for these new insurers. They had to raise substantial additional funds to offset losses, and this drove their share prices down. In November 2021, Lemonade announced a merger with Metromile that should be completed this year.

This will help him grow and diversify his business. However, in many ways this lack of success is embarrassing, as there is so much to learn from these businesses for mainstream insurers. Their marketing and branding is extremely slick, and their apps and websites are very intuitive and easy to navigate. It is important to focus on data analytics, process automation and streamlining the underwriting process.

Traditional insurers are finally responding to this challenge and are increasingly working with tech companies, from small start-ups to giants like Alphabet, to help them create complex pricing models to automate much of the underwriting process. These can connect to big data companies like Experian and automatically fetch risk data linked to a company name or address. This may include construction details, flood exposure and local crime statistics that can help assess risk and calculate the required premium. By combining the latest technology with a deep understanding and experience in taking these risks, many traditional insurance companies are now better equipped to face and beat new competitors.

Better times for traditional insurers The last time I looked at the insurance industry at MoneyWeek at the beginning of last year, I predicted better times would come for traditional insurers. The pricing cycle had turned decisively in their favour, and pricing levels continued to rise at a strong pace, with compounded increases of around 60% over five years (see chart below). Unlike Insurtechs, most of my recommendations have produced impressive results. For example, commercial insurance giant AIG (NYSE: AIG) reported a pre-tax profit of $12 billion for 2021 versus a $7.3 billion loss in 2020 affected by Covid-19. The share price has risen nearly 50% since my tip.

In the UK, the London insurance market remains the leading global market for all types of commercial insurance. It is centered around the Lloyd’s of London market, where around 80 unions compete for jobs. Lloyd’s recently reported a massive return on wealth for the market when it posted a total profit of £2.3 billion for 2021 after a loss-making year in 2020.

Some Lloyd’s syndicates are backed by major global insurance companies, others are backed by pension funds or private equity, and a few are listed on the stock exchange. Of the listed firms, Beazley (LSE: BEZ) experienced a significant change in fortune, with a profit of £370 million in 2021 after a loss of $50 million the previous year. Lloyd’s peer Hiscox (LSE: HSX) had its best result in five years.

Only Lancashire (LSE: LRE) was disappointed by the heavy exposure to catastrophic events last year and investors’ concerns over possible war losses from the Ukraine conflict. My preferred Lloyd’s of London game remains Helios Underwriting (LSE: HUW), which I own.

This company has stakes in several of the best syndicates on the market, has a diverse portfolio and a long history of outperforming the broader market. It has grown significantly over the past year as it receives funding from industry-leading organizations such as Polar Capital. It used the capital to acquire syndication capacity from private Lloyd’s investors.

I anticipate that the insurance sector results will be even stronger next year, because the return on high premiums is reflected in profitability. If traditional insurers can learn the right lessons from insurtechs, the outcome could be even better.

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But imagine one that will pay your claim in seconds rather than weeks or months. This is the promise of Lemonade, the flag carrier of the new insurance technology (insurtech) companies that are trying to disrupt the sleepy and conservative insurance industry. In 2017 Lemonade claimed a new world record for settling a claim in just three seconds.u003c/p>\n””,”wordCount”:65},{“__typename”:”DataBlock”,”type”:”TEXT”,”data”:””u003cp>A New Yorker called Brandon had his $1,000 Canada Goose coat stolen on a freezing January night. So he opened the Lemonade app on his iPhone to report a claim and recorded a minute-long video report stating where he had bought the coat and what had happened. Three seconds after hitting submit, the claim had been agreed by the firm’s anti-fraud algorithm and the cash was in Brandon’s bank account.u003c/p>\n””,”wordCount”:70},{“__typename”:”DataBlock”,”type”:”TEXT”,”data”:””u003cp>He couldn’t believe it – and neither could the worried chief executives of traditional insurance companies in New York and London when the word started to spread. On 2 July 2020, Lemonade had its initial public offering (IPO). The company was backed by highprofile tech investors including SoftBank and Baillie Gifford. By the end of the day the share price had reached over $69, up 139% from the IPO price of $29, prompting market commentators to state that the bankers had woefully underestimated the shake-up that Lemonade and its car-insurance peers Metromile and Root were going to give the old-fashioned insurance market.u003c/p>\n””,”wordCount”:102},{“__typename”:”DataBlock”,”type”:”TEXT”,”data”:””u003cp>Lemonade was the new Amazon taking on the tired Barnes & Nobles of the insurance world. By August 2021 the market cap of Lemonade had reached $10bn. Metromile, a pay-as-you-go car insurer for occasional drivers, and Root, which bases its prices on driving data collected from the policyholders, both floated on the US stockmarket shortly afterwards.u003c/p>\n””,”wordCount”:56},{“__typename”:”DataBlock”,”type”:”HEADER”,”data”:”{“text”:”Growth is slowing, losses are not”,”size”:”3″}”,”wordCount”:null},{“__typename”:”DataBlock”,”type”:”TEXT”,”data”:””u003cp>Much has changed in the 20 months since then. The three great disruptors have failed to make the breakthrough that the analyst cheerleaders predicted and all three are now trading at around 80%-90% down from their peak prices. In part this is because “jam tomorrow” tech stocks such as Lemonade are no longer in vogue as investors prefer companies that are profitable today.u003c/p>\n””,”wordCount”:63},{“__typename”:”DataBlock”,”type”:”TEXT”,”data”:””u003cp>But, more importantly, it seems that selling insurance is not as straightforward as selling books, or even providing a banking service to smallbusiness clients. So what has gone wrong and what do the current numbers look like? All three are continuing to grow revenues, but the growth is slowing and they remain an insignificant part of the $1.3trn US insurance market.u003c/p>\n””,”wordCount”:61},{“__typename”:”DataBlock”,”type”:”TEXT”,”data”:””u003cp>Unfortunately, losses are growing at a much faster rate. When an insurer has been underpricing its business it is very difficult to correct this while maintaining growth. Increasing prices drives business away and the young customers of these insurtechs are particularly price sensitive. It is also an industry with limited economies of scale.u003c/p>\n””,”wordCount”:53},{“__typename”:”DataBlock”,”type”:”TEXT”,”data”:””u003cp>The biggest cost is paying claims and this grows proportionately with customer numbers. Lemonade has had to raise additional funds, diluting shareholders and causing the share price to tank.u003c/p>\n””,”wordCount”:29},{“__typename”:”DataBlock”,”type”:”TEXT”,”data”:””u003cp>The concept behind these companies’ business models was to use technology to price insurance risks accurately, understand claims trends and to make it easier to target pricing more effectively to maximise sales.u003c/p>\n””,”wordCount”:32},{“__typename”:”DataBlock”,”type”:”TEXT”,”data”:””u003cp>They look to employ more coders and data scientists than underwriters, claims and call-centre staff. To use the Canada Goose example, if your technology can confirm certain elements of the claim –such as whether the shop where the coat was bought is a registered stockist and whether the price looks right – then you don’t need to employ expensive claims adjusters to handle the claim.u003c/p>\n””,”wordCount”:65},{“__typename”:”DataBlock”,”type”:”HEADER”,”data”:”{“text”:”Three fundamental errors”,”size”:”3″}”,”wordCount”:null},{“__typename”:”DataBlock”,”type”:”TEXT”,”data”:””u003cp>Unfortunately, Lemonade and the others made some fundamental errors in their business models. While it may seem obvious to target tech-savvy millennials, in practice they make poor customers for insurers since they have very little to insure. They are the asset-light generation who rent their accommodation, use Uber and Zipcar instead of owning a vehicle and even rent their music collection from Spotify. Lemonade also decided to have a “zero everything” offer with no rate rises guaranteed and no excess applied on claims. This only encouraged clients to use their policy as a cash machine, claiming for every little scratch. The timing of the launch and expansion of these challengers also coincided with the absolute bottom of the insurance-pricing cycle following several years of pricing declines. To take market share from incumbents meant cutting already depressed pricing still further. Insurance is also a highly regulated industry, especially in the US where pricing needs to be filed and agreed with the state insurance commission. u003c/p>\n””,”wordCount”:163},{“__typename”:”DataBlock”,”type”:”TEXT”,”data”:””u003cp>Finally, selling insurance is not like selling books. Insurance is an intangible product, a promise to pay in the future if something bad happens. For this reason, reputation and brand recognition is more important than for most other industries. Will a start-up with a silly name really be there for you when you need it – when your house has flooded, or when you are taken ill on holiday?u003c/p>\n””,”wordCount”:69},{“__typename”:”DataBlock”,”type”:”TEXT”,”data”:””u003cp>The knowledge that your policy is with a long-established firm helps you sleep at night. If Lemonade and the others had had some more people with experience of the insurance industry in their management teams and on their boards then some of these pitfalls might have been avoided.u003c/p>\n””,”wordCount”:48},{“__typename”:”DataBlock”,”type”:”HEADER”,”data”:”{“text”:”Lessons for the industry”,”size”:”2″}”,”wordCount”:null},{“__typename”:”DataBlock”,”type”:”TEXT”,”data”:””u003cp>The future looks tough for these new insurers. They have had to raise significant additional funds to offset the losses and this has depressed their share prices. In November 2021, Lemonade announced a merger with Metromile, which should complete this year.u003c/p>\n””,”wordCount”:41},{“__typename”:”DataBlock”,”type”:”TEXT”,”data”:””u003cp>This will help it bulk up and diversify its business. However, in many ways this lack of success is a shame, as there is much to learn from these businesses for mainstream insurers. Their marketing and branding are exceptionally slick and the apps and websites very intuitive and easy to navigate. The focus on data analytics, process automation and streamlining of the underwriting process is important.u003c/p>\n””,”wordCount”:66},{“__typename”:”DataBlock”,”type”:”TEXT”,”data”:””u003cp>Traditional insurers are finally now responding to the challenge and increasingly working with tech companies from small start-ups to giants such as Alphabet to help them build sophisticated pricing models to automate much of the underwriting process. These can be linked to big data companies such as Experian and automatically bring in risk data connected with a company name or an address. This can include construction details, flood exposure and local crime statistics, which can all help to evaluate the risk and calculate the required premium. By combining the latest technology with a deep understanding and experience of underwriting these risks, many traditional insurers are now better equipped to take on and beat the new challengers.u003c/p>\n””,”wordCount”:116},{“__typename”:”DataBlock”,”type”:”TEXT”,”data”:””u003cp>Better times for traditional insurers When I last looked at the insurance sector in MoneyWeek at the start of last year I was forecasting better times ahead for traditional insurers. The pricing cycle had turned decisively in their favour and pricing levels have continued to rise at a strong clip (see chart below), with compound rises of around 60% over five years. In contrast to the insurtechs, many of my recommendations have had impressive results. For example, commercial insurance giant AIG (NYSE: AIG) reported a pre-tax profit of $12bn for 2021 versus a $7.3bn loss in Covid-19-affected 2020. The share price has risen some 50% since my tip.u003c/p>\n””,”wordCount”:108},{“__typename”:”DataBlock”,”type”:”TEXT”,”data”:””u003cp>In the UK, the London insurance market remains the pre-eminent global market for commercial insurance of all kinds. It is centred around the Lloyd’s of London marketplace, where some 80 syndicates compete for business. Lloyd’s recently reported a major turnaround in fortunes for the market when it announced an overall profit for 2021 of £2.3bn following a loss-making year in 2020.u003c/p>\n””,”wordCount”:61},{“__typename”:”DataBlock”,”type”:”TEXT”,”data”:””u003cp>Some Lloyd’s syndicates are backed by major global insurers, others by pension funds or private capital and a few are listed on the stock exchange. Of the listed firms Beazley (LSE: BEZ) has also had a significate change in its fortunes with a 2021 profit of £370m following a $50m loss the year before. Its Lloyd’s peer Hiscox (LSE: HSX) had its best result in five years.u003c/p>\n””,”wordCount”:67},{“__typename”:”DataBlock”,”type”:”TEXT”,”data”:””u003cp>Only Lancashire (LSE: LRE) disappointed due to a heavy exposure to catastrophe events last year and investors’ concerns about possible war losses from the Ukraine conflict. My preferred Lloyd’s of London play remains Helios Underwriting (LSE: HUW), which I own.u003c/p>\n””,”wordCount”:40},{“__typename”:”DataBlock”,”type”:”TEXT”,”data”:””u003cp>This company has stakes in several of the best syndicates in the market, has a very diverse portfolio and a long record of outperforming the wider market. It has grown significantly over the past year as it raised funds from institutions such as Polar Capital, which are specialists in the sector. It has used the capital to acquire syndicate capacity from private Lloyd’s investors.u003c/p>\n””,”wordCount”:64},{“__typename”:”DataBlock”,”type”:”TEXT”,”data”:””u003cp>I anticipate insurance sector results to be even stronger in the coming year as the benefit of the higher premiums flows through to the bottom line. If traditional insurers can learn the right lessons from the insurtechs then the outcome could be better still.u003c/p>\n””,”wordCount”:44}],”primaryMedia”:{“__typename”:”Image”,”src”:”https://media.moneyweek.com/image/private/s–mTdItVcw–/v1649351828/editorial/2022/insurance.jpg”,”caption”:”Selling insurance is not as straightforward as selling books, or even providing a banking service to smallbusiness clients.”,”credit”:”© Getty “,”alt”:”Woman using online account”},”isSponsored”:false,”monetising”:[{“__typename”:”Monetising”,”service”:”digiteka”,”enabled”:true,”config”:[{“__typename”:”KVP”,”key”:”id”,”value”:”02314201″},{“__typename”:”KVP”,”key”:”zone”,”value”:”2″}]}],”sponsor”:null,”resources”:{“__typename”:”Resources”,”whitepaper”:{“__typename”:”Whitepaper”,”whitepaperAssetId”:””,”formName”:””,”locale”:””}},”teaserImage”:{“__typename”:”Image”,”src”:”https://media.moneyweek.com/image/private/s–mTdItVcw–/v1649351828/editorial/2022/insurance.jpg”,”width”:1408,”height”:792,”caption”:” Selling insurance is not as straightforward as selling books, or even providing a banking service to smallbusiness clients.”,”credit”:”© Getty “,”alt”:”Woman using online account”}},”pagination”:{“__typename”:”Pagination”,”currentPage”:1,”totalPages”:0}}},”Article:604672″:{“id”:”604672″,”__typename”:”Article”,”title”:”Are gold miners finally set to outperform plain old gold? “,”altTitle”:null,”subtitle”:”Gold miners are meant to outperform gold. Yet since 2003, that hasn’t been the case. What’s changed – and will they ever make a comeback? Dominic Frisby explains.”,”url”:”https://moneyweek.com/investments/commodities/gold/604672/fsfs”,”teaserLabel”:”Gold”,”teaserImage”:{“__typename”:”Image”,”src”:”https://media.moneyweek.com/image/private/s–9IhJItrl–/v1649235952/editorial/2022/goldminer.jpg”,”width”:1408,”height”:792,”caption”:null,”credit”:”© Getty “,”alt”:”Hand holding golden stones “},”updated”:”2022-04-06T12:18:00+00:00″,”isSponsored”:false,”sponsor”:null},”Article:604671″:{“id”:”604671″,”__typename”:”Article”,”title”:”Homebuilders look cheap, but this is a better bet on the UK housing market”,”altTitle”:null,”subtitle”:”If you’re looking to get exposure to the UK housing market, don’t buy the builders – buy this stock instead.rn”,”url”:”https://moneyweek.com/investments/stockmarkets/uk-stockmarkets/604671/homebuilders-look-cheap-but-this-is-a-better-bet-on”,”teaserLabel”:”UK stockmarkets”,”teaserImage”:{“__typename”:”Image”,”src”:”https://media.moneyweek.com/image/private/s–qySYuGI3–/v1649169010/editorial/2022/barrat-developments.jpg”,”width”:1408,”height”:792,”caption”:null,”credit”:”© Getty “,”alt”:”New Barratt Houses Site”},”updated”:”2022-04-05T14:44:24+00:00″,”isSponsored”:false,”sponsor”:null},”Article:604690″:{“id”:”604690″,”__typename”:”Article”,”title”:”The UK’s new energy strategy has been revealed – here’s how you can profit”,”altTitle”:null,”subtitle”:”The UK has just released details of its long-term energy strategy, which emphasises offshore wind power. Rupert Hargreaves explains how you can invest.”,”url”:”https://moneyweek.com/investments/604690/the-uks-new-energy-strategy-has-been-revealed-heres-how-you-can-profit”,”teaserLabel”:”Investments”,”teaserImage”:{“__typename”:”Image”,”src”:”https://media.moneyweek.com/image/private/s–EB87IqHJ–/v1649410019/editorial/2022/offshorewind.jpg”,”width”:1408,”height”:792,”caption”:null,”credit”:”© Getty “,”alt”:”Drone view of a wind farm”},”updated”:”2022-04-08T09:23:16+00:00″,”isSponsored”:false,”sponsor”:null},”Article:604642″:{“id”:”604642″,”__typename”:”Article”,”title”:”Will there be a recession this year?”,”altTitle”:”Will there be a recession this year?”,”subtitle”:”With household finances getting squeezed hard, the UK’s consumption-led economy could be heading for a recession. 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John Stepek explains what is going on. “,”url”:”https://moneyweek.com/economy/inflation/604678/how-to-invest-in-an-environment-of-rising-inflation-and-unpredictable”,”teaserLabel”:”Inflation”,”teaserImage”:{“__typename”:”Image”,”src”:”https://media.moneyweek.com/image/private/s–z-96ZvYN–/v1649350629/editorial/2022/edletter1098.jpg”,”width”:1408,”height”:792,”caption”:null,”credit”:”© Getty “,”alt”:”Lael Brainard “},”updated”:”2022-04-09T08:01:03+00:00″,”isSponsored”:false,”sponsor”:null},”Article:604342″:{“id”:”604342″,”__typename”:”Article”,”title”:”The charts that matter: dollar hits a two-year high on higher rate expectations”,”altTitle”:null,”subtitle”:”The dollar hit a two-year high this week after minutes by the Federal Reserve were seen as increasing the chances of a half-percentage point interest rate hike next month. Here’s what happened to the charts that matter most to the global economy.”,”url”:”https://moneyweek.com/economy/global-economy/604342/the-charts-that-matter”,”teaserLabel”:”Global Economy”,”teaserImage”:null,”updated”:”2022-04-09T07:00:00+00:00″,”isSponsored”:false,”sponsor”:null},”Article:604691″:{“id”:”604691″,”__typename”:”Article”,”title”:”Two of the best airline stocks to invest in as the travel industry rebounds “,”altTitle”:null,”subtitle”:”The travel industry still faces severe challenges, but there are signs of recovery. These two airlines look well-placed to ride out the turbulence, says Rupert Hargreaves.”,”url”:”https://moneyweek.com/investments/stocks-and-shares/share-tips/604691/two-of-the-best-airline-stocks-to-invest-in-as-the”,”teaserLabel”:”Share tips”,”teaserImage”:{“__typename”:”Image”,”src”:”https://media.moneyweek.com/image/private/s–FMCrUQDY–/v1649432331/editorial/2022/airlines.jpg”,”width”:1408,”height”:792,”caption”:null,”credit”:”© Getty “,”alt”:”airplane”},”updated”:”2022-04-08T15:40:24+00:00″,”isSponsored”:false,”sponsor”:null},”Article:604679″:{“id”:”604679″,”__typename”:”Article”,”title”:”Tokyo Stock Exchange launches shakeup to attract foreign investors”,”altTitle”:null,”subtitle”:”Japan’s flagship Tokyo Stock Exchange launched its biggest shake up in decades to attract foreign investors. Alex Rankine explains why Japan’s investment prospects are attractive right now. “,”url”:”https://moneyweek.com/investments/stockmarkets/japan-stockmarkets/604679/japan-launches-shakeup-to-attract-foreign”,”teaserLabel”:”Japan stockmarkets”,”teaserImage”:{“__typename”:”Image”,”src”:”https://media.moneyweek.com/image/private/s–TnYYDsAr–/v1649349907/editorial/2022/markets21098jpg.jpg”,”width”:1408,”height”:792,”caption”:null,”credit”:”© Getty “,”alt”:”Japanese markets “},”updated”:”2022-04-08T14:50:00+00:00″,”isSponsored”:false,”sponsor”:null},”Author:602563″:{“id”:”602563″,”__typename”:”Author”,”name”:”John Chambers”,”url”:”https://moneyweek.com/authors/john-chambers”,”image”:null}};

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