Hannover Re US Invests in Strategic Partnership with Startup Sureify Labs

Analysts see the partnership as an exemplar of an emerging pattern of innovation where incumbent insurance industry players look to startups to supply new capabilities.

(Image source: Sureify.)

While insurance industry commentators speak of “disruption,” the emerging pattern for change in the industry is not one of revolutionary new competitors but rather incumbents acquiring or partnering with InsurTech startups with innovative capabilities. A new partnership between Hannover Life Reassurance Company of American (Orlando, Fla.) and InsurTech startup Sureify Labs, Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) fits the mold.

Jamie Macgregor, SVP, Celent.

Jamie Macgregor, SVP, Celent.

Through the partnership Hanover Re will integrate its hr | ReFlex automated underwriting solution with Sureify’s LifeTime digital platform, which is designed to enable life insurers to acquire, engage and cross-sell throughout policyholders’ lifetimes on web and mobile applications.

When Incumbents Meet Startups

“The strategic partnership between Sureify and Hannover Life Re makes a lot of sense and goes a long way to demonstrate how partnerships with insurtech firms can be mutually beneficial,” comments Jamie Macgregor, a U.K.-based senior VP in Celent’s (Boston) insurance practice. “Both sides benefit from accelerating their strategies. Hannover Life Re gets immediate access to innovative technology that it can then use with its carrier partners to co-create new digital propositions, while Sureify gets rapid access to the market that it can then use to scale and innovate further.”

The firms describe the combined solutions as giving insurers the option to deploy a rules engine that supports accelerated underwriting programs, enabling them to make the most precise risk assessment decisions at the point of sale. according to a Hannover Re statement. “Together, Sureify and hr | ReFlex platforms give insurance carriers around the world the technology they need to speed up digital transformation initiatives that target the next generation of insurance buyers who prefer web and mobile experiences,” a Hanover Re US statement says.

Dustin Yoder, CEO, Sureify.

Dustin Yoder, CEO, Sureify.

“We are excited to work with Hannover Re US. The combination of their open and modern technology platform, hr | ReFlex, deep insights into the life insurance industry and ability to innovate and execute new ideas have demonstrated their commitment to growing the life insurance market,” comments Dustin Yoder, CEO, Sureify.

Formed in 2012, Sureify developed LifeTime Platform to facilitate the next-generation relationship between life insurance carriers, their agents and policyholders through web and mobile devices. The platform enables web and mobile solutions for the quoting, application and fulfillment of insurance policies. The platform provides ongoing connectivity to policyholders’ mobile phones, health and wearable technology, integration with consumers’ social networks and the option to engage with them post-issue.

Sureify is a classic story of new market entrant that realized its real value is in selling its tech to incumbent players,” comments Matthew Josefowicz, president and CEO, Novarica. “Hannover Re already offers a life underwriting software platform, so extending its capabilities through Sureify makes sense. While this looks like a reinsurer investing in InsureTech, it’s really more like one software provider partnering with and investing in another.”

Tom Benton, Principal, Novarica.

Tom Benton, Principal, Novarica.

Sureify also offers innovative customer engagement tools for wellness and via wearables—an area many life carriers are looking at since John Hancock started working with Vitality, according to Tom Benton VP, Research and Consulting at Novarica. “Hannover Re’s partnership gives them access to technology for innovation that complements the core capabilities of their existing platform,” he says.

Potent and Unsettling Effect

Like other recent developments in the industry, the Hannover Re US and Sureify partnership falls short of an “Uber” moment in insurance driven by an insurtech company or consortium, according to Celent’s Macgregor. “However, it is clear that identifying and seizing the right partnership opportunity with an industry incumbent who has access to capital and volume, wherever they may sit in the value network today, could have quite a potent and unsettling effect,” he says.

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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 AnthODonnell@IIReporter.com or (503) 936-2803.

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