Feb 10, 2021

Marble brings digital wallets and rewards to insurance

Marble
Insurtech
Insurance
digitalwallet
William Girling
3 min
New insurtech Marble is positioning itself as the first company to bring digital wallets and loyalty rewards programmes to the US insurance space
New insurtech Marble is positioning itself as the first company to bring digital wallets and loyalty rewards programmes to the US insurance space...

Based in New York, Marble was founded last year. It announced today that it has secured US$2.5m in seed funding from several early backers, including IA Capital Group, MS&AD Ventures, Fintech Ventures Fund, The Takoma Group, and others.

Its concept is based on an integrated hub or digital wallet where customers can easily manage their insurance products, including details and payments. Users can also earn up to 5% back in loyalty rewards, which can subsequently be redeemed in a variety of ways, including paying policy premiums.

Marble is currently in its beta testing stage. Plans for its platform inauguration are currently set for March 2021.

Engaging with customers

Calling out the insurance industry for failing to engage with the 92% of American citizens who currently hold insurance (apart from when selling or renewing a policy), Marble’s CEO and founder Stuart Winchester called his company “the first truly transformative insurtech product in a long time.”

Marble liaises with insurers to dissuade them from spending money on marketing and instead channel those funds directly back to the customer. 

“Marble’s insurance partners leverage our API-powered tech to offer precise rewards tailored to their customers – who stay engaged through rewards and notifications, as well as the ability to bundle, compare, and keep track of all of their policies at a glance. All of this dramatically increases the likelihood of engagement and renewal,” Winchester explained.

Security and data management integrity is also a highly important consideration. Marble’s website notes that users will benefit from the following:

  • SSL encryption (256-bit)
  • Account safeguards (two-factor authentication, automatic logouts and ID verification)
  • 24/7 bank-level security
  • Data is not shared with third-parties without consent
  • Marble works closely with regulatory authorities on compliance

Insurtech is changing US insurance

“Customers are demanding a better way to manage their disparate policies and accounts. Insurers want a better way to engage with customers,” stated Andrew Lerner, Managing Partner of IA Capital Group, who went on to compliment Marble’s anti-advertising approach to the insurance industry. 

“As the longest-tenured and most experienced venture capital firm predominantly focused on insurtech, IA Capital couldn't be more pleased to have incubated and invested in Marble, an ambitious insurtech company that has the potential to uniquely disrupt all personal lines of insurance.”

In many ways, Marble is reminiscent of Sidecar Health, another US insurtech, which recently made headlines for achieving unicorn (+$1bn valuation) status. Viewed as a radical departure from US industry norms by placing healthcare purchasing power directly into the hands of consumers, it is a harbinger for the broader changes taking place in the industry.

Choice, empowerment and transparency are being brought to US insurance customers at an impressive rate. Such a development could not have come at a better time: the majority of Americans are reportedly confused about their coverage, particularly during the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

New entrants to the market like Marble and Sidecar recognise this dissatisfaction at the customers’ greatest time of need and are poised to solve the problem. Incumbents should take note if they are to remain profitable in the near future.

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Jun 19, 2021

Insurtechs are winning the race with legacy system companies

Insurtech
Insurance
AI
Technology
Tom Allen, Founder, The AI Jou...
3 min
Insurance has long been due an overhaul. The AI Journal’s founder Tom Allen explains how innovative insurtechs are changing the incumbent narative

Nestled in its own place within the world of financial services, insurance is arguably more unpopular than retail banking.

That’s hardly surprising given that, from a customer service perspective, insurance is something of an off-kilter transaction. You pay a sizable premium in exchange for a service you hope you will never have to use. This image problem is exacerbated by ubiquitous tales of insurers not paying out when it is time to make a claim.

The insurance sector has long been due to an overhaul, and this is where the disruptive force of insurtech comes in - one of fintech’s most upwardly mobile subcategories. Accordingly, last year, insurtech in the UK alone attracted £262m in investment, a growth of 60% on 2019, according to Tech Nation. Insurtech’s momentous growth has been captured in a new report by The AI Journal exploring this burgeoning sector. 

What exactly is insurtech?

Put simply, insurtech refers to technological innovations that seek to make insurance cheaper to buy and more efficient to use. In a similar vein to fintech, the large, established institutions have been dipping their toes into insurtech, but it’s the disruptors who are genuinely looking to shake up the status quo, diving into and exploiting those areas that traditionalists have little imperative to explore.

Examples are price comparison sites (one of the earliest forms of insurtech that was eventually snapped up by the insurers it initially sought to disrupt), claims software, customisable policies, or even smart-tech-enabled dynamic policies whose premiums can fluctuate depending on changing circumstances.

The latter, for instance, could use someone’s fitness tracker or smartwatch to monitor fitness levels, thus reducing the premium of a life insurance policy; or track a GPS system that records the location of a car and assesses risk levels accordingly.

Most consumers tend to shop around for their insurance needs and perhaps end up buying their contents insurance with one provider, their car insurance with someone else, and their pet insurance with yet another underwriter. Managing all these different policies, with their varying renewal dates and payment terms can be complex. This has led to the increase in apps that pull everything together.

More prosaically, insurtechs are developing AI that uses machine learning to act as an insurance broker, eliminating the need for a human intermediary and therefore offering more cost-effective and impartial advice.

Insurtechs and risk

But there are some obstacles in the way of insurtech’s continued evolution.

Insurance companies are averse to risk. Understandably so, as at the crux of the industry is the role of the actuary, whose job it is to analyse and measure the probability and risk of future events. So it’s little wonder that there’s a reluctance among the traditional players to welcome the disruption that insurtech brings.

Insurance is heavily regulated, a minefield of legality and labyrinthine jurisdiction, which means the idea of shaking it up can be anathema. And why would they, when their old-school business models are working perfectly fine?

There’s an understandable nervousness and unwillingness to work with startups, who themselves need to work with the bigger firms in order to underwrite risk.

While it seems like a catch-22 situation, there is growing, if cautious, interest from insurance companies, who can see the benefits of insurance with a friendlier face, innovative solutions, and a competitive edge through differentiation. As that tentativeness dissipates, the growth of insurtech will gather even more momentum.

Tom Allen's analysis is based on the findings of a new report on the fintech and insurtech industries produced by The AI Journal

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