(Tim Hardcastle, co-founder and CEO, INSTANDA. Source: INSTANDA.)
Like so many successful insurance innovators, Tim Hardcastle wound a circuitous route before founding INSTANDA (London). From a career as a chartered accountant (the British equivalent of a CPA), Hardcastle went on to take technology leadership roles and later entered the insurance industry by being recruited by global specialty insurer Hiscox (London/Bermuda). Also like so many outsiders, Hardcastle became fascinated with insurance and its technology challenges. He co-founded INSTANDA, a provider of a no-code customer and policy management platform for property/casualty and life & health carriers, in 2012. By 2015 the company had gone live with its first customer, and by 2016 it had gain recognition as a top InsurTech. INSTANDA opened a U.S. office in 2019, and in 2020 announced a $19.5 million Series A funding round. This year, the company announced a further round of $45 million and was named Most Innovative InsurTech at the Fintech Finance Awards. IIR had the pleasure of meeting Tim Hardcastle at the Insuretech Connect 2022 show in Las Vegas, and followed up with the exchange below. INSTANDA currently has over 75 clients globally, and during this exchange, Hardcastle confided to us his expectation that INSTANDA will be the one of the world’s leading insurance platforms.
Insurance Innovation Reporter: Before founding INSTANDA, you enjoyed decades of experience as an insurance CIO. What led you down that path?
Tim Hardcastle, CEO, INSTANDA: I was fortunate to have several CIO roles in two different industries before being headhunted into Hiscox. I actually started my career as a Chartered Accountant so quite a distance away from insurance technology! The path that led me to insurance was a mixture of serendipity and drive on my part. Looking back, I am so pleased I ended where I did. Hiscox is a great company, and I learned so much from the CEO Bronek and a number of the senior leaders there. Discovering the inner workings of insurance was a mixture of shock and pleasant surprise as there were very recognizable technology patterns. Ultimately, it was the catalyst for me to start INSTANDA with my co-founder, who also previously worked at Hiscox.
IIR: What prompted you to leave a big carrier and found INSTANDA?
TH: Hiscox’s insurance portfolio ranges from big-ticket Lloyds syndicates through to household retail. In my time as a CIO, I saw challenges in all these areas, and after leaving Hiscox, stress tested my thesis with many other insurers and brokers through consulting assignments. I remember my co-founder and I met at a coffeeshop in London talking about the need for insurers to meet customer expectations with personalized services at scale and at low cost. There were so many innovative ideas—digitalization of specialty lines, new niche markets crying out to be served—that insurers wanted to tap into, but we were incumbered by legacy technology that made it virtually impossible for them to do so.
That idea soon morphed into INSTANDA, the first no-code solution for P&C and Life & Health carriers to digitize and manage the full insurance lifecycle. Our goal was to enable insurers to launch and iterate changes themselves rather than wait on a vendor or IT team. We’re delighted to see the thesis hold true and for the dream to become a reality, with more than 75 customers globally now using the platform.
IIR: What was it like founding INSTANDA? How would you describe those first months and years?
TH: I believed that it was the right thing to do and never doubted we would get traction. It has always been a question of when not if, and now it is how high can we go? Of course, when you enter a tunnel that is not well lit and goes on longer than you expect, you inevitably need to dig deep to continue with the work. We had all of that including mortgaging our homes and selling assets to fund a monthly payroll run!
Few people are cut out for the high-risk, high-pressure environment of starting a company and scaling it, so we know we are not normal!
IIR: What have been some of your biggest wins so far?
TH: When I look back on that conversation in the coffeeshop, I’m amazed by how far INSTANDA has come. We’ve had quite a few big wins in the last few years. We were able to add 21 new clients in 2021 despite the pandemic.
Then this year, we raised our biggest fundraise to date to help continue our focused growth in the United States and Japan. The biggest win for me personally is seeing the amazing use cases our clients can put together with our platform and the value they’re offering their clients. We’ve seen clients incorporate telematics, integrate with wearables, offer embedded insurance, launch in just a few weeks, and so many other wins. It’s amazing to see their innovation. It fills us all with so much optimism about the future of insurance.
IIR: What is your strategy for growing INSTANDA in the current difficult economic circumstances? Where do you see INSTANDA in 5 years’ time?
TH: While the current economic circumstances are difficult, insurance has proved itself time and again to be nothing if not resilient. These economic challenges will require insurers to think outside of the box to retain and acquire customers, to continue to innovate, to increase their ability to flex and respond to customer needs, and of course, we’ll be at the ready to help them as they try new things.
We are currently focused on enhancing INSTANDA’s capabilities, with a focus on billing, claims and health insurance. This will enable the platform to serve a wider range of insurers and further transform customer experience, such as dramatically reducing claims processing costs, digitizing all aspects of the insurance value chain, and building full product aggregation capabilities.
In five years, I expect that INSTANDA will be the one of the world’s leading insurance platforms.