Inside SMA’s Top 50 InsurTechs: A Conversation with Mark Breading

Why a list of 50 InsurTechs, what kinds of companies make the list, and how should insurers, venture capitalists and others interested in the insurance/technology ecosystem use the list?

(Mark Breading. Image source: SMA.)

In late April  Strategy Meets Action (SMA, Boston) released its new report, Top 50 InsurTechs in P&C Insurance.”  As we wrote in our initial coverage of the report, its list is meant to serve as a convenient guide of the InsurTechs that North American P&C carriers should be aware of. IIR was eager to cover the report because we found that calling out 50 companies provided an efficient means of familiarizing oneself with the must-knows. Though from our perspective on the industry meant that there were only a few we weren’t familiar with, we’re sure this guide will be very useful for insurance executives, venture capitalists and others who are either seeking to get a good overall grounding on the mature part of the InsurTech space, or who want to make sure they know the top companies serving a given line of business or providing functionality within a certain business area. We appreciated how SMA included other lists, including of other qualifying InsurTechs as well as other important companies to watch that don’t quite fit into the category. We had the opportunity to follow up with report co-author Mark Breading about the list and how to use it. 

Insurance Innovation Reporter: Why create a Top 50 InsurTech list, and what were the main criteria for choosing the companies?  

Mark Breading, Partner, SMA: Our development of a top 50 list was in response to the needs of our P&C insurer clients in North America. It is a challenge to sort through the 1,500+ active InsurTechs throughout the world, looking across insurance industry segments to determine which ones could be potential partners or competitors. The SMA list is a way for insurers to get a quick sense of which companies have gained momentum and, more importantlysee a clear picture of what space they play in. Our report visually identifies the lines of business and the areas of the value chain where each InsurTech is relevant. 

Our selection criteria included success with insurance implementations, funding levels, the strength and/or uniqueness of their solutions, and the prospects for growth.  

IIR: InsurTech is a word that theoretically could be applied to any company in the insurance technology field. What qualifies as an InsurTech for the purposes of the SMA Top 50?

MB: To qualify for consideration, an InsurTech must have been launched in the last decade (2010-2020) and be bootstrapped or funded by venture capital. We have a separate section that identifies startups launched by incumbent insurers, which often serve as distribution partners for the carrier. There are many excellent companies with tech solutions that were started in prior decades, but we do not label them as InsurTechs for the purposes of this report.

IIR: Let’s discuss the attributes of the companies and why you chose to feature those in the graphic presentation of the selected InsurTechs.

MB: For each company, we provide a brief description of their capability along with an SMA commentary about the company and their prospects. In addition, we include an infographic with four sections: 

  • Line of Business: a wheel visual showing 8 P&C lines of business with the applicable sections indicated.
  • Business Areas: A value chain graphic highlighting relevant business areas.
  • Funding Levels: A low to high gauge indicating external funding(but it is important to point out that public funding is not the only measure of success. In fact, companies that build an early revenue stream from customers may have less need to go for funding events).  
  • Insurer Partners/Customers: Logos of prominent insurers that are either using the company’s tech solution or partnering with them for distribution.Typically, we are showing 2-4 logos. In some cases, those are the only public customers that can be cited, while in others, there may be many more.  

The infographic represents a point-in-time view based on our best understanding of the InsurTech. Given the dynamic nature of the InsurTech market and the regular pivots made by companies, there may be certain instances where we have not fully captured the state of the company, although we have a high level of confidence that the entries are representative. 

Hi Marley entry in SMAs Top 50 InsurTechs. Source: SMA. (Click to enlarge.)

IIR: Who can benefit from this list, and how should they use it?  

MB: This list and report are meant to benefit anyone in the P&C insurance ecosystem. Insurance companies can use it as a filter to identify prime candidates for partnering. Venture capital firms can use it to identify investment opportunities, especially for some that may have been flying under the radar. The InsurTechs themselves are already using the report for public relations and marketing purposes. And incumbent tech companies may spot partnering or acquisition opportunities.  

IIR: Let’s talk about the other lists in the report and why you included them.  

MB: We have included a list of about 20 additional InsurTechs that we feel are worthy of consideration. It was quite difficult to narrow the list down to 50, so we have included some others that should be considered. In some cases, the other 20 are on the list because they have a strong presence outside North America but are newer to this market. In others, it is because they are earlier in their maturity but have a very strong solution. 

We also included a list of prominent digital brands since many insurers have taken this approach, and many include them in the InsurTech category. Finally, we thought it was important to highlight some of the successful exits–InsurTechs that have been acquired or gone public.

IIR: Lists such as these inevitably leave out companies that one would like to include. What are your thoughts about companies that didn’t quite make the list, and which others might have hoped to see there? 

MB: There are many great companies out there. This list is by no means meant to be the only list of InsurTechs that companies should consider. In fact, there are hundreds of InsurTechs that are already partnering with insurers and adding value. My advice is for companies to do whatever they possibly can to publicize success stories to get market visibility and the attention of potential customers and investors.

IIR: Does SMA plan to make the list an annual feature? 

MB: Yes, we plan to publish a 2021 InsurTech Top 50 report. Depending on how things evolve in this pandemic era, we may even consider a refresh later in 2020.  

Top 50 InsurTechs in P&C Insurance—SMA Report

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 [email protected] or (503) 936-2803.

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