App-based telematics insurance – what does it mean for insurance brokers?

"The broker space is massively underserviced"

App-based telematics insurance – what does it mean for insurance brokers?


By Mia Wallace

What does it mean to be a technology entrepreneur? For Richard Jelbert (pictured) who has served that function of over 25 years now, only ever working for companies he founded, at the root of entrepreneurship is the ability to look objectively at the wider technology landscape. By doing so, he said, you can first identify key trends, then consider technologies that could be used to change applicable processes and behaviours – and finally turn that technology into accessible products.

Thinking about how technology can be leveraged to create useful solutions in the insurance space is essentially Jelbert’s modus operandi, and as CEO and founder of the digital insurance platform Inzura, he gets to do that on a daily basis. Since the insurtech’s inception in 2015, it has welcomed a multitude of expansion opportunities, key hires and funding raises. Earlier this month, its AI-powered policy verification app iApprove was selected by 1 Answer Insurance, which reflects the next point of focus for the organisation – reaching out to the insurance broking sector.

When he first went to market wielding the banner of app-based telematics, there was quite a fixed view in the UK about how to use telematics data, and Jelbert and his co-founder Ian McWilliams soon found that the market in Southeast Asia was more open to embracing Inzura’s offering. They spent quite a lot of time out in Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand, he said, deploying telematics solutions using the app technology they had developed, and found enthusiasm there for the price point, flexibility, and customer-centricity that app-based telematics can bring.

“The first product we built was a new digital insurance product which was centred around telematics, and which found open doors in Southeast Asia,” he said. “When COVID kicked in, we retrenched back to the UK to focus on the market here. We’re now starting to see a lot of interest in app-based data collection around telematics here because of the drive for more flexible insurance products in motor.

“I’ve always been looking at the data, trying to work out what the data is trying to say, asking what questions we can ask of the data and then trying to [reformulate that information] so it can be relayed to the customer to help them improve their driving or understand their risk better. And it’s also about presenting data to the underwriters.”

Bringing that proposition forward to the present day, the iApprove app is a continuation of Jelbert’s ethos of keeping an eye on the evolutions of the market. A key journey of discovery for the Inzura team has been the insight that when it comes to putting apps into the hands of policyholders, those policyholders have very high expectations of what they should be able to do with that app – expectations informed by their interactions with other service providers.

He highlighted that it’s simply not acceptable to give a policyholder one app for telematics, another for onboarding, another for taking photographs, and then another for incident reporting, as was routinely the case in the past. Users don’t want that, he said, they want a single app that allows them to interact with insurance providers and fulfils everything it needs to do to support the lifecycle of the product.

Inzura doesn’t regard itself as a pure-play telematics service provider, he said, because it isn’t enough just to be that. Rather it puts together a complete solution for digital engagement, wherein its apps can capture photographs of vehicles and documentation alike, while customers can also avail of a chat system built into the app rather than having to make a phone call as is all too common. The iApprove offering is the product version of that proposition and has hit the market to support insurance businesses looking to make their digital journey as accessible to customers as possible.

“The broker space is massively underserviced,” he said. “[Brokers] aren’t always very technical and they are very much battered and bruised by the software vendors who supply them with technology but aren’t always looking out for their best interests and aren’t always nimble enough to engage with [their solution requirements]. We are a thoroughly modern SaaS provider business, and we can layer our technology over the top of any existing policy administration system, and bolt in a digital journey.”

It has already proven an attractive proposition for brokers, as evidenced by Inzura’s recent 1 Answer partnership and Jelbert said that 1 Answer is exactly the kind of broker with whom the insurtech is looking to engage – one with a healthy appetite for innovation and strong customer engagement. The main obstacle that he and his team are having to have overcome is the learned and fair cynicism of brokers when it comes to new solutions providers.

He understands that natural hesitation, Jelbert said, and Inzura has responded by ensuring there are no upfront costs to their services – and beyond this, that their offering provides a real and tangible benefit to brokers in terms of efficiency savings and customer benefits. Meanwhile, customers are highly engaged with Inzura’s offering because it means they have a digital conduit into their broker, and because it’s a low-touch way to engage with an innovative digital proposition.

Looking at the next steps for Inzura, he noted that it’s a private company, funded by several executives from the insurance industry, as a result of their understanding of the benefit of these kinds of solutions. Rather than being a hindrance, lockdown proved an opportunity for the insurtech to build out and complete its iApprove product. Now, as the UK opens up post-pandemic, Jelbert’s looking forward to getting out to the market and spreading the word about Inzura’s offering, its existing partnerships and its appetite for future partnerships.

“It’s really important for brokers to see positive results from other brokers - it makes the whole process seem much less mysterious and more tangible,” he said. “So, we want to make sure we’re making the best of our gains because that is a large part of being successful. [The future] is really all about growth for us. We want to make sure as many brokers as possible have heard of us and dare them to dream how straightforward it can be to add a digital journey to their product, no matter what back-end systems they’re using.”

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