The US insurtech sector has grown far more quickly than its UK and European counterparts, mostly due to the size of its insurance market and its high costs.
Now, another US insurtech is stepping in to make one of the most expensive forms of insurance more accessible, according to press releases seen by and interviews conducted by BI Intelligence.
California-based Ladder allows users to get a quote and apply for instant life coverage online or via mobile in a matter of minutes, with policies that range from $100,000 to $8 million, and from 10 to 30 years. Ladder launched on Tuesday, and is so far available only to California residents.
Ladder is targeting young consumers who need life insurance but find the current system too expensive and time-consuming. Historically, buying life insurance required multiple in-person meetings with brokers, manual paperwork, and waiting times of circa six weeks for coverage to take effect, with most incumbents encumbered by inefficient legacy systems. This has particularly deterred younger, working consumers who are starting families — people likely with a need and desire for life insurance, but even less time than most for the lengthy process. This is the group Ladder is now targeting. Jamie Hale, Ladder CEO, cites a LIMRA (a global FSI association) study which found that, as a result, there are 19 million "stuck shoppers" in the US who cannot buy policies despite needing them.
Ladder aims to solve this problem in several ways:
- Streamlining the application process. Applicants fill out a short questionnaire with details such as gender, age, whether they smoke, and a rating of their overall health. Live personnel can also be contacted to answer questions. This speeds up documentation and approval times. If a medical examination is required, Ladder dispatches a medical professional to a place and at a time chosen by the applicant.
- Lowering costs. Ladder does not charge annual policy fees, unlike most incumbents. It also offers term rather than whole policies — th
Helvetia Insurance is launching the Helvetia Venture Fund at the beginning of 2017 to help drive forward digitisation. The fund invests systematically in start-ups which are contributing to the digital transformation of Helvetia’s existing core business, thus facilitating targeted business model innovations. Around CHF 55 million will be invested in approximately 25 young companies over the next few years. Helvetia will set up a fund management company in Luxembourg for this purpose.
Focus on insurtech and start-ups that link to the business
The fund pursues strategic and financial goals. On the one hand, it will focus on insuretech start-ups. These are young companies active in the traditional value chain of an insurer. On the other hand, it will invest in start-ups whose business models link to Helvetia’s business. Helvetia aims for operational cooperation with all start-ups. The investments are therefore made primarily in countries in which Helvetia operates, i.e. Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Spain.
“The Helvetia Venture Fund will make a substantial contribution to the successful implementation of the helvetia 20.20 strategy. In order to make use of business model innovations, we want to invest in the appropriate start-ups and work together with them,” explains Philipp Gmür, Group CEO of Helvetia.
Cooperation with b-to-v
Helvetia is working together with b-to-v Partners AG, based in St.Gallen, in the venture capital sector. The Helvetia Venture Fund will thus benefit from the start-up deal flow and the experience of b-to-v. However, the investment decisions will be taken by Helvetia. This allows for the necessary agility, lean processes and short decision-making routes for all investments.
New Corporate Development division for efficient strategy implementation
The Helvetia Venture Fund is part of the Digital Ventures department in the Corporate Development function. This new function will support the efficient implementation of the helvetia 20.20 strategy and will also group and drive forward the company-wide initiatives and programmes. Corporate Development reports directly to Philipp Gmür, Group CEO of Helvetia. Martin Tschopp, who is joining Helvetia as of the first quarter of 2017, will take over as Head of Corporate Development.
Martin Tschopp has worked at UBS since 2012 and since 2015 held the role of Chief Operating Officer for Asset Management Switzerland. The 52-year-old worked at Swiss Life between 2006 and 2011 and left the company as CEO in Luxembourg. His career began in 1990 as a consultant at Andersen Consulting Switzerland. From here, he moved to