How a futuristic vision for an insurance business came true

CEO saw something at a time when few envisioned it was possible

How a futuristic vision for an insurance business came true


By Mitchell Scrimgeour-Brown

More than 20 years ago – “right back to the genesis of CFC,” as Dave Walsh puts it – the MGA was trying to create a product no-one wanted (cyber insurance) for a medium that no-one really trusted (the internet) via a channel that no-one had ever bought insurance through before (internet service providers).

“It doesn’t get much more futuristic than that,” said the company’s founder and CEO.

“We were trying to disrupt a market that didn’t even exist yet. And we were trying to do three new things at once. Any wise person could have told us that was stupid -- and they would have been right.”

But, he said, the company learned a lot in those early dot-com days, not least of which was how much it loved technology.

“Even though we failed as a dot-com, we did sell some of the very first online insurance policies in the world,” Walsh told attendees at the CFC Summit 2021, held virtually on May 19.

“It was fun, it was new, it was creative. And here we are now, over 20 years later.”

Today, CFC Underwriting writes 50 products across 17 lines of specialist insurance, serving over 100,000 businesses in 80 countries. And the key to that growth, Walsh said in his opening remarks, is his company’s eagerness to embrace the possibilities that new technology brings. 

“It seems to me that the insurance business of the future is focusing on the businesses of the future because these are the businesses that are growing,” he said, pointing to exciting new opportunities for brokers in the fields of digital health, e-sports and life sciences as just a few examples of industries experiencing rapid growth.

“These are the businesses of the future, and they are growing and changing fast, so they have really dynamic insurance needs,” he said. “If you want to create insurance products for businesses like this, you have to make sure you are really agile, that you are fast, that you can change course just as quickly.”

On the topic of being fast and agile, one theme that ran throughout the conference was the changing nature of cyber risk, and how the changing face of cyber crime presents new challenges for organisations and insurers trying to stay ahead of the curve. 

“Back in 1999, I honestly thought most businesses would be buying cyber insurance by 2005, and in reality we won’t get to that mark until after 2025,” Walsh said.

“The very real realisation now is that cyber claims are affecting businesses of all shapes and sizes. Pretty much everyone knows someone with a proper war story, so the purchase of a proper policy is now increasingly natural.”

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