While the insurance industry has struggled with adopting new digital paths, insurance companies have noticed the growth of highly digitized new market entrants, some of which they may want to emulate. However, as we have seen from past experiences, the copycat approach is often the least successful as only tested breakthrough ideas can yield high financial returns.
In just 6 years and despite the pandemic, InsurTech startups are now counting at least 23 well-known unicorn startups within their ranks or insurance companies with a billion-dollar valuation. These digital insurers and service providers use digital technologies to design, deliver, and price insurance offers uniquely. We estimate that the total valuation of our selected 23 companies today represents over $60 billion in valuation within an 850 strong global portfolio worth $2.4 Trillion. InsurTech represents 2.5% of this unicorn startup market.
The very best of these InsurTech unicorns are tackling big insurance problems. They combine creative problem-solving skills, innovative ideas, advanced technology, and data analytics; they’ve acquired a clear understanding of how to re-invent customer experiences. And many more will follow suit as we have recently seen several 1 billion dollar club companies emerge.
So let’s discover the 23 InsurTech unicorns that have made the headlines this past year within the insurance industry.
Our European six InsurTech leaders.
Let’s start with the European unicorn startups first. These top six market players include several pure digital players with fully redesigned pet and health insurance services. They also include value chain enablers in the fraud and virtual intelligence claim management spheres and one venture that realized that ignoring the broker channel may not be the wisest of choices.
French Super App health insurance platform for individuals, freelancers, and small businesses, Alan offers many plans such as Alan Green for health care protection, Alan Blue for reimbursement on uncovered hospitals, Alan Pension for employees. This Paris located startup received $220 million in April 2021 to simplify health insurance. This gives Alan a valuation of $1.7 billion.
Bought by Many:
The United Kingdom has a few unicorns too. Following a recent venture capital fundraise of $350 million, Bought By Many reaches a $2 billion valuation. This London-based fast mover has won pet lovers’ hearts and minds with its intuitive and consumer-centric management platform for pet owners. Over 29 venture capital firms are among Bought By Many’s investors with some well-known and respected names.
This second Paris-based startup worked hard to combine AI, fraud detection, and claims management software into one single platform. I remember meeting the team during one of my InsurTech Lounges in London in 2016. Shift Technology raised $220 million in May 2021. The latter fundraise enabled the company to be valued at $1 billion.
In the United Kingdom, visual intelligence-led claims optimization software is gaining more visibility. Unicorn venture, Tractable, integrates machine learning algorithms and software technology that can reliably identify risks while speeding the claims process using object recognition techniques. Tractable accurately calculates the cost of claims for vehicles, fleets, and property and automatically provides quotes from various insurers in less than 30 seconds. Nigel Walsh and I remember the days where we discussed InsurTech innovation at Lloyd’s and ACORD with the Tractable team. The team recently raised $60 million, which brings its valuation to $1 billion.
Germany brings WeFox, a unicorn that enables users to digitally manage policies and quotes for motor, personal liability, and household insurance. With a focus on the broker, this app-based digital comparison environment links multiple stakeholder groups and implies experiences. WeFox raised $650 million from venture capital investors in June 2021, giving it a valuation of $ 3 billion.
Zego, the London-based and usage-led digital motor insurance app for individuals & fleet owners, did very well this past year. Zego focuses on giving gig economy drivers the ability to manage their risk more effectively by charging them insurance based on how much the gig workers drive instead of traditional factors like age, gender, or credit score. The platform combines a series of highly sophisticated data points. As a master of the ecosystem building approach in the United Kingdom and European countries, it raised $150 million of venture capital funding in March 2021, which led to a valuation of $ 1 billion.
The United States leads with 10 unicorns.
Globally, the largest number of unicorns are located in the USA. Out of the 10 names listed below, you will notice that over 50% of these unicorn startups are digitizing health insurance, an area that received major investment over the past 12 months. Winners have aimed to offer completely digitized services within the cyber risk prevention, distribution, home, life, motor, and small business insurance markets.
This healthcare startup enables others to access, verify and certify patient information via an insurance verification system.
In 2016 by Bob Sheehy, Kyle Rolfing, and Tom Valdivia tackled “data opacity” issues within healthcare. Bright Health‘s first product offering verifies patients’ coverage data to ensure that their medical bills are paid correctly. With over 623,000 customers, the company raised $500 million in Sep 2020. In a recent Reuter article, Tiger Global and Blackstone shared that they expect a more than $14 billion valuation in their U.S. initial public offering.
Online automotive insurance unicorn, ClearCover started with just one car insurance product in 2015. Today it provides the cheapest auto insurance rates with high-quality customer service across multiple states. It raised $200 million in April 2021, which gives it a valuation of $1 billion.
Online insurance platform for healthcare, retail, IT, legal, and energy providers, Coalition offers policies for error & omission, cyber insurance, professional liability, computer replacement, or lost business income. Coalition was founded by serial entrepreneurs who believed that building an easy-to-use online digital environment for small business owners would help them buy commercial business insurance. The company raised $175 million in March 2021, valued at $1.75 billion.
Collective Health is a San Francisco-based provider of a cloud-based self-insurance platform for employers to sponsor their employees. The firm aims to shift health insurance focus from profit to people who need better health plans. It raised $280m in May 2021. The investment is an endorsement of their success within the health space, one of the insurance markets that has welcomed a large portion of the InsurTech investment to date. Valuation stands at $1.5 billion.
This second San Francisco-based firm has become one of the fastest-growing usage-based digital term life insurance startup without a commissioned salesperson on staff. Ethos’ technology compresses the multi-week underwriting process into an intuitive online sign-up engagement process. It is dedicated to improving people’s lives through smarter and more personalized life insurance and protection solutions. In May 2021, Ethos raised $202m, which gave it a valuation of over $2 billion. The company raised another round of $100m in July 2021 too.
Hippo provides an online portal and mobile app to get quotes, select a policy, pay premiums, and manage claims in one place. More than 450 000 customers use the company’s home insurance products globally, which enabled Hippo to raise $350 million in November 2020. The InsurTech startup went public through a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, valued at $5 billion.
Next Insurance offers online business brokerage services for health, life insurance, general and professional liability insurance, errors & omissions, and commercial auto insurance. Next Insurance’s clients are self-employed professionals who work independently without employing company staff such as engineers, architects, carpenters, contractors, cleaners, beauty salons, and accountants. The startup provides them with insurance services to cover risks related to their profession. Its most recent raise was $250 million, which brought its valuation to $4 Billion.
Secured cloud is on the card for many insurers. New York-based SecurityScorecard developed cloud-based solutions for security ratings, cyber insurance and risk management, threat intelligence, and risk awareness by automated monitoring risk factors in real-time. The company also offers a cybersecurity rating platform that helps companies know their vulnerability to cyber risk, made available for executive-level reporting. It raised $180 million in March 2021 for a valuation of $ 1 billion.
Another fastest-growing digital insurance startup, Zebra, offers a comparison platform for individuals, employers, and small businesses to find a series of insurance offers to protect domestic drivers, homeowners as well as international coverage for both US drivers and international residents. It received $150 million in April 2021 for a valuation of over $ 1 billion.
Asian InsurTechs are mastering Distribution, Data, and Intelligence.
We often read about the ABCDs, or Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Cloud, and Big Data. Asian InsurTechs have grown from implementing the ABCD of technology and combining those with intelligence and flexible techniques to distribute, price or service customers.
China-based AInnovation assists insurance companies in analyzing the data underlying various types of customer negligence intelligently. It then provides flexible pricing through its Artificial Intelligence-based image recognition and text analysis platform to support underwrite and claim management activities. It also provides cloud-based real-time risk assessment and generation of loan strategies for housing, car, and consumer loans, then augmenting the full value chain. Recent series D funding from Softbank Vision Fund is undisclosed but above the $1 billion valuation mark.
Well-known Israeli AI analytics, data monitoring, and pricing platform, Earnix raised $75 million in funding in February 2021. With over $1.5 billion in valuation, the company is now growing to a point where it should be in the position to IPO soon, said Erel Margalit, the founder of Jerusalem Venture Partners who is set to become Earnix chairman. “This is an industry that’s been waiting for the disruption. It’s been waiting for a platform that is both AI and very dynamic.”
India-based InsurTech, Digit Insurance provides an app-based insurance servicing platform for individuals. The company offers its own car insurance, home insurance, and health coverage, and other policies such as pet safety features or breakdown assistance options purchased with monthly direct debits from the customer’s bank account. The startup was founded in 2016 and reached its unicorn startups in 2020. It achieved a new funding round of $200m in July 2021. This brings the company’s valuation to an estimated $3.5 billion. It is now planning for its IPO later in 2021.
Another India-based fastest-growing app-based online insurance comparison platform is called PolicyBazaar. It provides personal motor and health policies for individuals and small-to-medium enterprises. It announces a $165 million funding in February 2019, bringing PolicyBazaar’s valuation to more than $1 billion.
So, who are the investors investing in InsurTechs
Many of these companies are supported not only by well-known angel investors as well as limited partners that are part of well-known and less well-known funds. Here is the list of the 95 investors that have invested in recent high-valued InsurTech businesses. And some invested in more than one of these market leaders.
Journey to IPO and SPAC
As highlighted earlier, several InsurTech companies have done well during the past few years despite the pandemic. They remain few compared with the 1,000s of InsurTechs that have entered the market to utilize technology or data to offer more engaging digital and transparent insurance products and services. Let’s also remember that less than 1% of companies. Actually, 0.001% make it to unicorn status.
A few renowned players also decided to take the IPO path. Let’s congratulate them.
- Lemonade which went for IPO in July 2020 in New York and April 2021 in London with a current market capitalization of $4.5 billion
- Oscar Health which went for IPO on the NASDAQ in March 2021, with a current market capitalization fluctuating between $3 billion and $ 5 billion
- Root Insurance which IPO in October 2020 in New York with a current market capitalization fluctuating between $1.5 billion and $ 3 billion
Lastly, Clover Health, whose approach is to offer better data-driven healthcare for senior citizens to manage their medications, became publicly traded via a merger with SPAC, Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp. III, which gave it a market capitalization of $ 3.5 billion at the end of last year.
This article was first published on my LinkedIn profile here, where you will also access a related Slideshare. I have made some updates to the current version of the article.
Connect the dots… Discover more on emerging growth strategies within the following articles:
- Scaling with speed like a FinTech unicorn here
- Are insurers ready for AI? here
- AI & the Cloud: A practical guide to scaling with speed here
- And many more curated viewpoints here.
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