(Des Moines skyline. Photo credit: Tim Kiser.)
W. R. Berkley Corporation (Greenwich, Conn.), one of the largest commercial lines writers in the U.S. through several subsidiaries, will join the Global Insurance Accelerator’s (GIA, Des Moines) board of directors through a commitment to be an investor.
Founded in 1967 and based in Greenwich, Connecticut, today W. R. Berkley has more than 50 operating units across the globe. W. R. Berkley’s investment will help fund the GIA’s annual, 100-day program, and operating unit, Continental Western Group (CWG, Des Moines), will likely be the first contributor of staff to participate as program mentors, a statement from the GIA says.
“There are many accelerators in which we could have chosen to participate,” comments W. Robert Berkley, Jr., president and CEO of W. R. Berkley Corporation. “We recognize the insurance-specificity the GIA offers, and we are looking forward to contributing expertise from Berkley to the startups and entrepreneurs participating in the program going forward, and to those who are already part of the GIA network today. This kind of partnership offers countless opportunities for exposure to new ways of thinking, innovative ideas, and emerging technologies.”
The GIA operates an annual program by which it invites InsurTech startups to its home city of Des Moines for a 100-day, immersive insurance experience, during which program mentors provide business coaching as well as exposure to insurance company operations, focused line of business (LOB) insight, and access to potential additional investors. Each April, cohort companies graduate by pitching onstage in front of Global Insurance Symposium attendees.
“I want to welcome W. R. Berkley as a GIA investor,” comments Jeff Russell, president of Delta Dental of Iowa and the GIA Board Chairman. “Each new insurer investor brings greater depth to the expertise the GIA delivers to cohort companies, and W. R. Berkley’s strength in commercial lines property and casualty insurance, as well as reinsurance, will be a great asset to the program. Our startup teams will benefit from their global presence and the variety of specialty insurance represented by the Berkley operating units.”
W.R. Berkley joins the GIA’s existing investor group, which includes American Equity Investment Life Holding Company, Delta Dental of Iowa, EMC Insurance, Farm Bureau Financial Services, Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance of Iowa, Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company, IMT Insurance Company, Markel Corporation, Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company, and Principal Financial Group.
Opportunity to Shape InsurTech Product Evolution
The GIA investors, now including W. R. Berkley, not only have an opportunity to acquire a financial stake in some of the top InsurTech startups in the world, but can also expect to influence the early business and product evolution of cohort companies. As a part of the GIA, insurer investors are often exposed to the newest industry-specific technology trends ahead of formal product launches, and, are therefore better positioned against modern competitors operating in the same markets.