ACORD Names Top Ten InsurTech Leaders of 2019 

The Top Ten are chosen based on the greatest current and potential ability to change the industry through InsurTech.

(Image credit: Couleur.)

Each year, ACORD (Pearl River, N.Y.), the insurance industry’s technology standards organization, retrospectively identifies its Top Ten InsurTech Leaders, based on input from industry stakeholders evaluating vision, impact, and execution. The Top Ten are chosen based on the greatest current and potential ability to change the industry through InsurTech. ACORD’s criteria aim to identify honorees based on tangible industry outcomes, as opposed to the high-level and more speculative approach that often characterizes such lists.

“ACORD’s Top Ten InsurTech Leaders list features visionaries operating throughout the insurance value chain, from large, established incumbents to small startups,” comments Bill Pieroni, President and CEO, ACORD. “For real change to happen, we need long-time industry leaders and new players with fresh perspectives to work together. We are pleased to highlight some of the brightest talents driving tangible outcomes and meaningful results for the industry at large.”

ACORD’s Top Ten InsurTech Leaders for 2019, presented in alphabetical order, are:

  • Matt Aaron & Kiki Johnson (Co-Founders, Insurance Agent App)
  • Stephen Barnham, CIO, MetLife Asia
  • Bill Churney, President, AIR
  • Kirstin Duffield, CEO & Managing Director, Morning Data
  • Taylor Rhodes, CEO, Applied
  • Haug Scharnowski, Head of Finance Operations, Zurich NA
  • Lars Thomas, Managing Director, Aon
  • Sabine VanderLinden, Managing Director, Startupbootcamp
  • Henri Winand, CEO and Co-Founder, AkinovA
  • Amy Zupon, CEO, Vertafore

In addition to highlighting InsurTech Leaders, ACORD holds the annual ACORD InsurTech Innovation Challenge (AIIC) to provide opportunities and awards to InsurTech startups. The AIIC has attracted hundreds of ideas for consideration and rewarded the most innovative ideas with thousands of dollars’ worth of prizes and promotion. Past AIIC winners have often been featured on the Top Ten InsurTech Leaders list, including the co-founders of Insurance Agent App this year. Top Ten Leaders from previous years can be found at these links:

InsurTech Leaders 2017

InsurTech Leaders 2018

The following provides more detail on the 2019 honorees, as provided by ACORD:

Matt Aaron & Kiki Johnson, Co-Founders, Insurance Agent App

Kiki Johnson, Co-Founder, Insurance Agent App.

Winners of the Startup Disruptor category in the 2017 ACORD InsurTech Innovation Challenge, Aaron and Johnson are known for doing their homework. By finding out the real-life pain points for each stakeholder, they have been able to create a solution that makes things better for agents, carriers, and policyholders alike.

Stephen Barnham, CIO, MetLife Asia
From India to China to Singapore, Barnham has been a leading figure in the digital transformation of the financial services industry across the Asia-Pacific region. With a policy that “for every $3 of expenses the company can save, $2 will be reinvested in digital efforts,” he has kept MetLife Asia at the forefront of innovation. He also actively mentors and collaborates with startups, academia, and investment funds.

Stephen Barnham, CIO, MetLife Asia.

Bill Churney President, AIR
As President of AIR, Churney has created a culture driven by data and innovation. Under his leadership, AIR has created modeling solutions which both enable efficiencies in traditional lines and expand capabilities into new areas. His vision involves not just helping businesses thrive, but ultimately improving the lives of people throughout the world.

Kirstin Duffield, CEO & Managing Director, Morning Data
A passionate and principled industry visionary, Duffield has led Morning Data for over a decade, but remains on the cutting edge of technology. Frequently named to “most influential women in technology” lists, her background includes not only IT experience, but also business analysis, compliance and marketing. Her highly collaborative approach has enabled success for many startups and small enterprises.

Taylor Rhodes, CEO, Applied

Taylor Rhodes, CEO, Applied.

Though no stranger to the software space, Rhodes is new to the insurance industry, having taken the helm at Applied this June. His fresh perspective, as well as keen insights on the potential of data-driven capabilities in insurance, have driven engagement with employees and customers alike. By matching in-house innovation with smart acquisitions, he has already made an impact in the industry.

Haug Scharnowski, Head of Finance Operations, Zurich NA, and Lars Thomas, Managing Director, Aon
Despite the decades of legacy and global reach of Zurich and Aon, they have emerged at the forefront of the digital transformation of finance and accounting. Scharnowski and Thomas have partnered to drive innovation in premium accounting reconciliation, leveraging industry-leading technology to automate the process and free up resources to focus on more pressing client needs.

Sabine VanderLinden, CEO & Managing Director, Startupbootcamp InsurTech

Sabine VanderLinden, CEO, Startupbootcamp InsurTech.

VanderLinden has been on our InsurTech Leaders list three years running, and it’s easy to see why. As head of the InsurTech area for global accelerator Startupbootcamp, she has amassed an enviable track record of startup mentorship. With headquarters on two continents, her team has provided guidance which has enabled many InsurTechs to reach their full potential.

Henri Winand, CEO and Co-Founder, AkinovA
Having held more than a dozen patents and published several scientific papers, Winand has gone from PhD to MBA to CEO. He co-founded AkinovA in 2017 with a mission to create an electronic secondary marketplace for the trading of reinsurance risk. Their commitment to industry collaboration, and ability to handle dynamic emerging lines, are changing the reinsurance landscape.

Amy Zupon, CEO, Vertafore
A proven B2B software veteran at the helm of one of the leading insurance technology vendors, Zupon refuses to rest on those laurels and remains committed to continuous improvement and innovation. She is highly attuned to her customers’ changing needs, making sure that technology initiatives are clearly focused on them. Leading by example, she has created a company culture that embraces innovation.

ACORD’s Top Ten InsurTech Leaders of 2018

Anthony R. O’Donnell // Anthony O'Donnell is Executive Editor of Insurance Innovation Reporter. For nearly two decades, he has been an observer and commentator on the use of information technology in the insurance industry, following industry trends and writing about the use of IT across all sectors of the insurance industry. He can be reached at or (503) 936-2803.

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