I like to think of myself as a bit of a disrupter. I don’t mean in the now fashionable innovation sense of the word – someone seeking to disrupt the traditional way of doing things, although I have tried! I mean in the original sense of the word – disruptive in the class room, refuse to wear a tie, hate rules for rules sake, a healthy disregard for all forms authority and a loathing of Scottish dancing (it’s the rules again!).
So, when my colleague at RiskForge, Craig Polley invited me to join him to make a presentation in the House of Commons, I had serious concerns. Are you sure you sure it’s my kind of thing followed by will I have to wear a tie?
Cutting a long story short, my passion for the InsurTech in London cause outweighed my innate distrust of institutions and so, on 7th February I duly joined Craig in Committee Room 17 to address the All Party Parliamentary Group for Insurance and Financial Services ably chaired by Lord Hunt of Wirral.
We had been kindly invited to come and tell them about our Risk Forge proposition, an InsurTech innovation facility for the London and specialty market, but more importantly to lobby them for more local and central government support for InsurTech given the importance of insurance to the UK and particularly London.
Having provided the required context about the insurance market in the UK generally and the emergence and importance of InsurTech we made the following points:
- An overwhelming majority of the funds being invested in InsurTech relate to propositions to innovate around retail insurance, there’s almost no promotion of innovation for the specialty lines that are the bedrock of the London market
- That the big European reinsurers and composites have stolen a march in terms of understanding the potential of InsurTech and investing in the things that suit them best.
- That Brexit provides both a threat in the sense that it has shaken short term confidence in London as an InsurTech hub, but also an opportunity (think cross border IPT, movement of goods, pan European motor policies etc.)
- That FinTech generally seems to get an enormous amount of central government support and funding of which so little seems to filter across into the InsurTech scene.
- That InsurTech needs to be treated as a separate issue and not wrapped up into a general FinTech wrapper whose agenda is dominated by banks.
You can find the full transcript of our presentation here - https://medium.com/@InsTechLondon/insurtech-in-parliment-54947ced85fe#.2qfr5z6vd
Given my lack of faith in the established ways of doing things, I had expected some sage nodding, a show of gratitude and to be shown the door. Instead Lord Hunt could not have been more helpful giving some excellent advice on avenues to follow and people who might help. BIBA and the ABI, who were both represented, weighed in with further insights and promised to help and give access to their own research and resources on this issue.
So, sceptical, disruptive old me was proved totally and utterly wrong. It was both an enjoyable and uplifting experience. I was left with the impression that we were really onto something which if vigorously pursued could make a difference. So, Craig and I will continue this line of enquiry with the APPG, the Corporation of London and anyone else who will help us, but we need help.
First, we’re going to put together a short paper collecting together our original proposals, the ideas we got from our meeting with the APPG, insights from the ABI and BIBA and any other smart ideas we receive in the meantime.
If, having read this you have any suggestions for us on how to improve and increase the attractiveness of the InsurTech scene in the UK, and particularly London we would love to hear from you. It’s not just about money, although that does of course make the world go round, but more broadly about anything we can do to ensure that we can put London at the centre of the global InsurTech universe. You can contact us on [email protected] and/or [email protected].
So, has my House of Commons experience restored my faith in institutions and diluted my disruptive instincts? Not yet and here’s why. The more I think about it the more perplexed I am that it was Craig Polley (with Robin in the role of faithful wingman) who were tasked with putting the case for central government support for InsurTech in London and the UK. Surely this issue is of paramount importance to the Corporation of Lloyd’s, the leading London market players and the various London market bodies that represent them. I’ll consider converting to conservatism when I see sustained institutional support for the InsurTech in London. Might even wear a tie – for a while.
The UK HAS to do more. I look by longingly at the help that the FinTech world appears to be getting and ask my self the question, why is none of that coming to help the ecosystem I work in. InsurTech has just moved to centre stage, the potential it provides is enormous and growing. Let’s combine to do what we can to and ensure we optimise the opportunity