Global Insurance Accelerator hosts 2021 InsurTech Days

The Global Insurance Accelerator’s 2021 InsurTech Days event was held at Curate Event Center in downtown Des Moines on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Business Record attended the first day to hear the growth story of Cowbell Cyber, a member of GIA’s 2019 accelerator program, and presentations from the 12 featured insurtechs.

Attendees came from across the insurance industry to connect, network and learn. GIA Managing Director Nicole Gunderson said the two-day event met its goal of being short in length but high impact.

“Over 1.5 days, the GIA brought together about 150 insurance industry professionals, insurtech companies, and insurtech investors for meaningful conversations. The early feedback is that the ability to meet in-person is even more helpful this year than before,” she said in an email.

The 2021 InsurTech Days was the seventh iteration of the event and the first back in person. Gunderson said as the insurance industry moves toward working in a post-pandemic world “thinking and acting innovatively is no longer optional.”

With the existing insurance industry in Iowa as a launchpad, Gunderson sees a momentum favoring startups and opportunities to broaden the industry’s reach in Des Moines and beyond.

“We have all the components to make Iowa really stand out on the map as the place to build the next insurtech startup, with both the Global Insurance Accelerator and BrokerTech Ventures based in Des Moines, along with ManchesterStory, a venture capital firm with a focus on insurtech investments,” she said.

John Brisco, CEO of Coherent, presents at GIA InsurTech Days on Aug. 31. Photo by Jami Milne

Here are highlights from three of the featured company presentations:

Coherent, based in Hong Kong, serves more than 40 insurance carriers in the U.S. and globally with a suite of platforms powered by its cloud-native logic engine Spark. CEO John Brisco said during his presentation that Coherent was built from a desire and drive to make a system that is as “flexible and intuitive” as Microsoft Excel.

“What we’re doing is activating all that Excel logic, that Excel capability, and then ingesting that into Spark, which takes all the logic and turns it into active APIs and codes,” he said. Spark echoes the many capabilities of Excel by providing clients help with product development, rating, policy management and more.

Brisco described the solution as “creating a field of dreams which doesn’t exist at the moment.” The Iowa reference is apt as Coherent’s U.S. Chief Commercial Officer Doug Loots is from the state and based in Des Moines.

Loots said working in the capital where many insurance organizations are based is putting Des Moines on the global map as an insurance hub.

“Just yesterday, I spoke to folks from Europe, Asia, and across the U.S. This enhances Des Moines’ image as a great place to conduct business and puts Des Moines in the same category as New York, Hong Kong, and other large centers of commerce,” he said in an email.  

Safekeep, based in New York, is the industry’s first Intelligent claims recovery platform, helping business, personal and auto insurance carriers expedite the process known as subrogation. Some in the room knew about this process, but Chief Customer Officer Gabriel Weiss gave this example for those who didn’t:

“When a car accident happens and a claim has been paid on that car wreck, subrogation begins when your carrier determines who is at fault, and if the other driver is ultimately liable, then your carrier would generate a demand package, and send that to the adverse carrier in order to be recouped on the losses that they’ve paid out to you on that claim.”

Safekeep’s solution is meant to automate the subrogation process, increasing recoveries and decreasing time and resources spent when the process is done manually. Weiss said up to 20% of all total paid losses can be recovered, but many carriers end up recouping only a fraction of that amount.

By applying proprietary machine learning models, natural language processing and rules-based automation, Safekeep has seen a 35% increase in identifying recovery opportunities and a 20% increase in net dollar recoveries going back to companies’ bottom lines.

Akur8 is an AI insurance pricing company with offices in Paris and New York designed for property and casualty carriers.

“Our mission is simple: it is to empower actuaries to make better decisions faster. The way we do that is by automating manual data driven processes in the right modeling process, while keeping transparent and interpretable outputs,” said Boriana Trifonova, head of sales in North America. “Our solution is fully cloud based and machine learning driven, setting a new standard insurance pricing.”

Trifonova said there are two key problems Akur8 solves. It applies a machine learning solution that both automates manual, time-consuming legacy processes and preserves transparency and regulatory compliance — something other solutions have not yet achieved.

The impacts for Akur8’s more than 30 customers are speed, better performance and greater transparency in the pricing process, allowing them to avoid future costly mistakes.

Akur8 commercialized its solution in 2018 and currently works with insurance carriers worldwide. The insurtech’s most recent move was expanding to the western market and opening its New York office.