"We may be part of a big corporation, but you can picture us as the little speed boat that Munich Re has deployed, a boat able to navigate with speed into uncharted territories." Leading the UK and European Partner Engagement at MunichRe Digital Partners, Jennyfer Yeung-Williams talks to us about how they are making an InsurTech success story out of their partnerships.
How are partnerships beneficial to you at MunichRe Digital Partners?
Munich Re Digital Partners are partnering with start-ups and companies looking to improve the way insurance is transacted, by innovating the customer journey, making insurance more accessible, more tailored and making emerging risks insurable; these are being done by leveraging on new technologies, currently available data and newly sourced data. Alone, we would not be able to achieve a fast and efficient way of doing this, thus partnerships are a crucial part of our strategy. We are getting, through our partnerships, access to the latest technology, a deeper understanding of the end customers, a closer engagement with them, and this enables us to continue to be able to better design insurance products to meet the evolving needs and expectations of the public. Internally, our unit is bringing a different dimension to the existing book of Insurance of Munich Re and are contributing to the long term strategy of keeping up with digitilisation.
How is MunichRe Digital Partners leading the wave of InsurTech within the insurance sector?
Our unit has been set-up with the sole purpose of working with Insurtechs, the start-ups with an insurance product that they wish to distribute in either a b2b, b2b2c or b2c concept. We are a team of professionals from a mixture of backgrounds, including insurance as you would expect, but also technology, project management, and start-ups. We thus talk the language of the start-ups, we understand their needs and their ambitions and we are set-up to respond to these. We may be part of a big corporation, but you can picture us as the little speed boat that Munich Re has deployed, a boat able to navigate with speed into uncharted territories: we are helping our partnerslaunch innovative products, to use new distribution channels, to experiment on new pricing techniques. We enable our partners to achieve this by providing them not only with primary insurance capacity globally, but also a tech platform with modular services (mostly back-end operational services) from which our partners can pick and choose to complement and complete their offering to their customers. We also provide access to VC funding to the Insurtechs. Most importantly, we operate at a pace consistent with the start-ups themselves – execution is key. We believe our offering is unique in the market and we believe such a model provides the Insurtechs with further means to achieve speed to market. Additionally, we are also teaming up with digital verticals to allow them to access the insurance market.
What challenges have you encountered with partnering InsurTech?
We didn’t expect that there would be such a demand for our support. We had initially planned to work with Insurtechs on all insurance lines of business, but we had to limit our offering to property and casualty up to now. We will look at opportunities on the other lines of business in the near future.
One has to also bear in mind that MRDP is in itself a start-up, we have been in operation only since last May and we have officially already announced 8 partnerships. We are currently working with circa 20 partners, in different lines of business, territories and with different requirements. It is very demanding, but the strength of our team, both in term of expertise and team spirit, and more importantly, the energy that drives the start-ups who we are partnered with, helps to make it all worthwhile.
We also do sometimes face challenges in the new risks we are bringing into Munich Re Group’s portfolio, but there again, the cooperation and support we have internally from our Munich Re colleagues is unrivaled.
We fortunately do not face the limitations that legacy systems or “legacy thinking” might bring to start-ups with innovating ideas; in that space, I can say we are in a different position compared to some incumbents.
Lastly and more importantly, we are fortunate to have the Munich Re Board of Management support and understanding for our business model.
What does the future hold for partnerships and InsurTech?
We believe that partnering is crucial if we want change to happen. Insurtech holds expertise that us incumbents don’t, and vice versa. We believe each stakeholder should concentrate on what they do best and find the right partners so as a team, they can innovate intelligently within the insurance market. The ‘partners’ will evolve beyond what we see now, new entrants would not necessarily be from the insurance industry. We see the team behind the Insurtech evolve to include more and more insurance professionals who are seeking to bring changes to the insurance market and cannot do so within their current role.