(Keynote speaker entrepreneur and author Gary Vaynerchuk on stage at ITC Vegas. Source: ITC.)
This week the InsureTech Connect (ITC) conference took place at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, bringing together insurance executives, industry solution providers, investors, and other parties interested in the technological evolution of the insurance industry. The event featured speakers such as entrepreneur and author Gary Vaynerchuk; the Honorable E. David Burt, Premier of Bermuda; Kevin Strain, President and CEO of SunLife; Bill Powers of Cambridge Mobile Telematics; insurance commissioners from 5 jurisdictions, and CEOs of prominent InsurTechs including CoverGenius, Unqork, Policygenius, and Betterfly.
“ITC Vegas 2023 again brought the insurance ecosystem together for 3 days of unrivaled content, connections, and innovation,” comments Bill Harris, CRO, ITC.
Harris reports that the ITC Expo Hall featured demos from 60 InsurTechs and solutions providers, with SnapRefund winning the State Farm Pitch Competition. He notes that new at this year’s ITC was the LATAM Zone, the ITCx Meetup Series, and three masterclasses that allowed delegates to take a deeper dive into topics including generative AI, fundraising, and leadership.
“The ITC Forward50: Americas report, powered by Sønr, was also released during the ITC Kickoff Summit, and delegates experienced ITC trademark events like VC Office Hours, the Women’s Leadership Forum, the Black Founders Meetup, and Meet the Regulators, before enjoying a special concert by Earth, Wind and Fire to close out an epic week,” Harris relates.
Twenty-Two Israeli InsurTechs
Despite the ongoing conflict started with the Hamas attacks of October 7, Israel was strongly represented at the event, with a delegation of 22 companies and 80 individuals. Kobi Bendelak, CEO, InsurTech Israel notes that, despite many challenges personal and logistical, two more startups joined the delegation at the last minute.
“Despite the challenges we’ve faced, our ecosystem continues to flourish and develop innovative solutions that support the global insurance world,” Bendelak comments. “We wanted to emphasize that we are committed to our customers and partners no matter what. We want to amplify this wherever possible.”
Bendelak reports that the Israel InsurTech contingent experienced strong support from the insurance community and had a successful event. “We had more the 700 meeting during the conference,” he says. ‘It was a very successful event for us by achieving our goals.”
Gen AI Generates Enthusiasm—and Fear
Among the major themes of ITC Las Vegas 2023 was artificial intelligence—and generative AI in particular, according to several participants. Enthusiasm for the technology was not in short supply, but Franklin Manchester, Global Insurance Strategic Advisor, SAS (Cary, N.C.), found that it contrasted with another strong sentiment: fear.
“On the heels of the executive order coming the day before Halloween, many of the conversations, the breakout sessions, and one on one meetings included some form of reaction to the President’s bold statement on the use of artificial intelligence in a manner in which it can be regulated while also harnessing its potential,” Manchester observes. “I personally witnessed reactions spanning from no belief that regulation would come anytime soon, to ‘What can we do now to prepare ourselves?’”
“Of course, large language models and generative AI dominated the demonstrations on the expo floor,” Manchester adds. “Many of the use cases from identification of underwriting attributes for commercial risks, to conversational interfaces to extract quantitative calculations from enterprise data were quite brilliant. One Celent analyst’s reaction was simply, ‘Carriers are concerned about the reputational risk and privacy issues these powerful tools are going to create.’”
Manchester introduced the ITC pre-event meeting “Harmonizing Sustainability” on Oct. 31. In his remarks he talked about how new AI tools can be used in a responsible way to address the most pressing issues of the time, such as climate risk, the protection gap, and out of control losses. “One element of focus was the need for carriers and staff to understand how these tools introduce bias into our processes, identification of tensions and trade-offs,” he stressed. “And most importantly how individuals who use these tools understand the art of our business and are equipped to adjudicate matters, ethical choice when presented with downside risk of these models.”
Manchester’s colleague at SAS and veteran industry analyst Mike Fitzgerald commented in a social media post following the event that, “I’ve attended InsureTech Connect since 2017. This is the first year that I have come away thinking attendees were afraid.”
Range of Technologies
While agreeing with Manchester about the volume and intensity of the Gen AI conversation, Stuart Rose, Product Marketing Director, Ventiv (Westerville, Ohio)—a provider of AI-embedded core policy administration software, was impressed by the range of technologies represented at ITC Las Vegas 2023. “From AI to geospatial to intelligent document processing, the number of new InsurTech companies at ITC that have solutions to innovate and transform the insurance industry continues to amaze me,” Rose comments. “At Ventiv with we work with a lot of carriers, MGAs and TPAs and it great to learn how we work with these emerging software vendors to add extra capabilities to our new and prospective clients.”
Jeroen Morrenhof, CEO, FRISS (Utrecht, Netherlands) characterizes ITC Las Vegas as the biggest insurance technology event of the year, and one that defines the future of the industry.
“For me and the FRISS team it’s a great opportunity to meet industry leaders, prospects and customers,” he comments. “I’m really happy that FRISS is an active part of this community for years already. And for us this year is extra special, as we’re teaming up with Microsoft to show the R&D we’re doing on the GenAI part, as well as deepening our relation with our joint customers and prospects.”
Research and Advisory firm Celent contributed several analyst speakers to the event, including Nathan Golia, a Senior Analyst in Celent’s North America Property Casualty Practice, who spoke during the session “Don’t Leave Money on the Table: Maximize your Telematics Efforts,” along with fellow panelists Henry Kowal, Group Product Director, Arity; Rick Lanter, SVP – Product Strategy and Development, CSAA; and Sanjiv Ghate, CEO, Mobilisights.
Karlyn Carnahan, head of Celent’s North America Property Casualty Practice called the event “a whirlwind of innovation and a rush of progress that always leaves us in awe.”
“This event is the ultimate showcase of cutting-edge technologies and groundbreaking business approaches,” Carnahan comments. “With thousands of attendees, it’s the perfect opportunity to gain insights from industry peers, connect with incredibly imaginative startups that are revolutionizing the game, and engage in captivating conversations.”
What sets InsureTechs apart is their unwavering dedication to enhancing the insurance experience, Carnahan continues. “Whether they’re focused on making smarter decisions, transforming customer interactions, or creating entirely new models, these startups are on a mission to reinvent the industry.”
Carnahan noted that the event provided a dive deep into the world of generative AI, an “explosion” of data focused on managing property catastrophe exposures, and a continuing focus on brokertech and the customer experience. “No matter what your firm’s focus is, you’re bound to discover a treasure trove of fresh ideas and innovative solutions at this extraordinary event,” she concludes.
This week, IIR reported on the first integration resulting from the acquisition of Dais Technology by Origami Risk (both based in Chicago) in mid-September. Joe Cannon, SVP, Sales, Origami noted that Dais executive Jason Kolb spoke on the integration of Dais’ software to Origami Claims at ITC—following only a week of preparation following the rapid conclusion of the integration itself. “We’re here meeting new prospects and existing clients as well as ecosystem partners who want to help P&C carriers and MGA, deliver the full power and benefit of the Origami Advantage with true speed to value and improved TCO,” Cannon told IIR.