Global Insurance Accelerator Unites Startups and Insurers for InsurTech Week 2016

The event presented a series of networking and educational sessions, and gave the country’s largest concentration of insurance companies and professionals exposure to 12 startups’ products and services.

(Allan Egbert, founder of AskKodiak, commercial insurance search engine that keeps agents and brokers up-to-date on carrier appetite, one of the 12 participating startups at InsurTech Week. Source: GIA.) 

Last week the Global Insurance Accelerator (GIA), a Des Moines, Iowa-based business accelerator focused on developing and growing innovative insurance-centric startups, hosted 12 young InsurTech companies at its headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa, for a series of networking and educational sessions, and to give the country’s largest concentration of insurance companies and professionals exposure to the startups’ products and services.

Brian Hemesath, Managing Director, Global Insurance Accelerator.

Brian Hemesath, Managing Director, Global Insurance Accelerator.

“This event is a much-abbreviated version of our annual cohort,” comments Brian Hemesath, managing director at the GIA. “But, it’s still a tremendous opportunity for these very interesting, up-and-coming insurtech companies to network with one another, engage with our GIA investors and mentors, and showcase to the insurance community how they can help transform the industry and the way insurers do business.”

While GIA backed by insurance company investors from across the U.S., it has chosen as its base Des Moines—a city that is home to more than 80 insurance companies and tens of thousands of insurance professionals. More than 200 insurance companies are based in the state of Iowa overall. The GIA’s annual 100-day cohort in Des Moines, January through April, is a more comprehensive and formal educational and assessment experience for startups that apply and are accepted to the program.

Marrying New Ideas with Internal Subject Matter Expertise

Mark Breading, Partner, SMA.

Mark Breading, Partner, SMA.

“As a new investor in the GIA, we are especially interested in leveraging the ideas generated during InsurTech Week, and marrying those ideas with internal subject matter experts who can further network ‘innovation’ throughout the Markel enterprise,” comments Trent Cooksley, Director, Strategy & Marketing, Markel Corporation. “Having something like this held locally enables us to expose additional team members to new ideas, ways of thinking and potential partners as well.”

“Participating as a mentor in InsurTech Week at the GIA has been a great experience,” comments Mark Breading, a partner with research and advisory firm SMA. “It is a terrific venue to keep a pulse on the rapidly changing InsurTech market while helping to promote innovation and positive change in the industry. The presentations, one-on-one meetings, and networking activities were all valuable.”

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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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