It is an InsurTech startup operating an artificial intelligence-powered platform that aims to transform commercial insurance underwriting. While the goal may seem ambitious, Cytora is making significant inroads toward improving underwriting—ultimately with happier insurance-buying customers.

Executive Summary

Cytora CEO Richard Hartley explains how commercial insurers specializing in particular lines of business or sectors can branch into others, without incurring huge costs of building up new underwriting teams, using his company's AI-powered platform—a platform that gathers more data about the properties and risk choices of potential insureds than brokers can provide. That's just one of the ways insurers can use Cytora's APIs to transform their underwriting processes, with components that allow them to verify submissions, prioritize them or even automate the entire process for lower-priced SME business.

Since its launch in 2014, Cytora has raised close to $39 million and built an AI-powered platform that tames and translates big data for underwriters with risks in Europe and Australia. In addition, plans are underway to expand into new geographies by the end of 2019.

Cytora’s platform “gives insurance companies a more accurate view of the underlying risk and helps them make, ultimately, better risk selection and pricing decisions,” said Richard Hartley, CEO and co-founder of London-based Cytora, in an interview with Carrier Management.

“If you do that well as an insurance company, you can set the right prices to cover the claims. On the other hand, if you do it badly, your combined operating ratios could suffer.”

Insurance companies want to underwrite more profitably, but their margins are being squeezed, he explained. “They want to find ways to improve their combined operating ratios by three or four percentage points.” While it is hard to affect broker acquisition costs, the areas they can actually shift in a meaningful way are their front-line underwriting expenses and their loss ratios, which is where Cytora can help, Hartley said.

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