While other companies have struggled during the coronavirus pandemic, Planck sees opportunity.
In June—well into the ongoing COVID-19 crisis—Planck announced it had raised $16 million in venture financing to speed the expansion of its data and analytics platform in the U.S. and abroad. New products are also on the horizon.
The New York and Israel-based startup, which has pulled in $28 million overall, is a data and analytics-focused InsurTech whose technology is designed to help streamline the underwriting process for commercial insurers. By doing so, the goal is to boost premiums and reduce loss and expense. Planck co-founder and CEO Elad Tsur said that the company’s ideas and technology help to position it for growth, especially now.
Below, Tsur offers further details, with answers to a series of questions from Carrier Management Editor Mark Hollmer.
Q: How many people work for the company?
Tsur: We are currently around 60 full-time employees both in our US offices and the Tel-Aviv office.
Q: Will you be hiring?
Tsur: Yes, we currently have a few open positions within the Product, Sales, Marketing, and R&D teams.
Q: Is it hard to be an InsurTech startup during a pandemic?
Tsur: I think it’s a hard time to be anything and anyone, but it is also a very exciting time that forces everyone to become more creative in finding solutions to complex issues and push innovation forward. As a company that supports insurance digitalization, helps carriers drive efficiency as well as provide clarity on the risk in their books, we are playing an important role in helping carriers adapt to the new normal.
Q: Have any opportunities opened for you during the pandemic that weren’t there before? If so, what kinds of things?
Tsur: As a start-up at a growth stage focus, speed is everything. So, while our mission to provide the best insights to carriers is sustainable, and even more than ever before, the needs on the carrier’s side had accelerated on some fronts and had changed on others. Real-time insights that are created at the time of the submission, and not at a historical point in time became a priority, especially as business operations are changing on a daily basis due to governmental restrictions and changing financial conditions and market needs. This situation accelerates digitization and sets new requirements for new predictive insights to make sure that the accuracy of underwriting models remains the same or is even improved. We’ve also identified opportunities to help carriers better strategize and adapt to the new situation. For that, we have partnered with Accenture to offer a joint process to assess the major changes in the insurance policy books and provide actionable plans accordingly.
Q: There are other commercial insurance platforms out there now, so why is yours unique?
Tsur: We built the company and Planck’s artificial intelligence capabilities from the ground up, very focused on and suited for the commercial underwriting needs and nuances. Therefore, we managed to get to the highest accuracy and coverage level of hundreds of business insights, among others the business classification, segment-specific insights, and new predictive risk factors. The platform capabilities give our users a lot of flexibility on many fronts. From incorporating the exact insights that the carriers need in the way they need it, to managing their exposure and comparing their book to the market as well as identifying new predictive insights based on their claim history to dramatically improve loss ratios.
Q: Do you hope to remain an independent company? Or are you looking to be acquired over time?
Tsur: We don’t think about an acquisition in any form today. Planck has built an incredible offering and is able to execute and achieve our mission. For now, we prefer to focus on expanding our business ourselves and keep enjoying the ride.
Q: Nationwide is an investor now. Does this mean Nationwide may acquire your company at some point?
Tsur: We were not looking for potential acquirers when we’ve built the investors list. Nationwide offers insurance, and we offer data and analytics. We are playing in two different markets. On top of that, no strategic investor of Planck is on our board of directors. It’s important to emphasize that we are not sharing any business updates with our strategic investors, nor sharing any customer-related data. Thus, Nationwide isn’t in any better position to acquire us than any others.