Three years may not be a long time, but the head of Munich Re Digitial Partners in North America says his operation has made the most of it.
David Brune became CEO of Digital Partners’ North American operation in April 2016, months after the division designed to invest in and partner with promising InsurTech startups began its global operation in London. Brune, a veteran of American Modern Insurance Group, Great American Insurance Company and Prudential Financial, claims rapid progress since that time.
“In three short years we have created strategic partnerships with startup InsurTech and non-insurance digital verticals who do not want to become an agent but have an insurance need,” Brune explained in a series of email responses to Carrier Management. “These entities seek to innovate and digitize insurance along the entire insurance value chain.”
Munich Re has positioned itself to be flexible with each partnership it forms. Brune pointed out that depending on the partnership, Munich Re brings “insurance expertise including product design and development, actuarial and data analysis, compliance expertise, and insurance capacity with the aim of getting their products to market efficiently.”
Additionally, Digital Partners helps its partners “provide a more timely product launch…than usually experienced with standard carriers,” Brune said.
Of course, as Brune noted, Digital Partners provides both venture capital and strategic investment with many of its partners.
Carrier Management Editor Mark Hollmer asked Brune a number of questions regarding Digital Partners and its approach to partnerships and InsurTech Investments. Answers are below.
Q: How many InsurTech startups has Munich Re Digital Partners invested in to date?
Brune: Globally, Munich Re Digital Partners has partnered with 20 startups; of those, eight have received investment.
Q: How would Digital Partners rank its success in investing in InsurTech concepts thus far. Any duds?
Brune: Our partnerships run the spectrum of small startups who are still yet to launch and more developed partners like Bought By Many and Trov. While some of our partners have exceeded expectations and have managed to scale quickly, others have taken longer than expected to develop. This is the nature of the InsurTech cycle of continual invention and reinvention.
One of our successful partnerships is with Next Insurance, a U.S. MGA selling online to small businesses. With Next we are able to run continuous underwriting experiments. Together we develop new underwriting algorithms with the aim to improve the profitability of this business.
Q: Regarding the broader InsurTech movement, what does Munich Re Digital Partners see as the biggest tech advances and the most successful ones?
Brune: Advances in data and analytics are some of the biggest tech trends we see in the InsurTech space. Companies are using traditional insurance data in new and innovative ways to excel at underwriting, pricing, customer service, onboarding and marketing just to name a few areas.
The innovative policy and claims technologies developed by our partners continue to amaze us. When you have non-insurance people rethinking the policy and claims process from a completely new perspective, they create remarkably fast, efficient ways to deal with legacy systems. Things that would take a traditional insurer months to implement, they can do in a matter of weeks/days.
Q: What are Digital Partners’ long-range plans in terms of tapping into InsurTech technology and innovations?
Brune: Our ambition is to have partners in multi-geographies, across all lines of insurance and grow to be the preeminent partner for InsurTechs, fintechs and digital MGAs. Ultimately we aim to be a fully digital insurance carrier operation for companies looking to get into the insurance space.
Q: Does Digital Partners see any acquisitions on the horizon in the InsurTech space? If so, how will this transpire—through outside acquisitions, or purchase from its existing portfolio of investments?
Brune: We are always looking for good opportunities, and acquisitions are not out of the question.