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Day 2 Highlights

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Delegates at Insurance Innovators USA may have spent the previous evening living it up at the event after-party but they were still present and attentive for the important Diversity, Inclusion and Allyship breakfast that started Day 2 in Nashville, Tennessee.  This was a fascinating and insightful event that highlighted the issues, ranging from representation, gender, mentorship and confidence/imposter syndrome, that the industry needs to address not only because it’s the right thing to do but also because it will be essential to attract and retain future talent.

“We need to come together as an industry and build a support system to make progress,” said Elisa Stampf, co-founder and CEO of Insure Equality. “Gen Z won’t put up with it.”

This was followed by a fascinating talk from Jake Rothfuss, president of Nashville-headquartered Velocity Risk, who took a deep dive into new opportunities and emerging risks. He pointed out that while new technologies are helping the industry get smarter, the “risk profile was changing and adapting as fast as we are”.

Evan Siegel, VP, Financial Services at eGain, shared some stark statistics that highlight the CX gap between carrier’s ambitions and customer’s real experiences. “Sixty-two per cent of insurance customers report they get different answers from different touchpoints, which is a terrible experience,” he said, adding that 84 per cent of customer contact agents told Gartner that they hate their tools. “This is a real crisis.”


Emerging risks and opportunities

In addition to poor CX and dissatisfied employees, insurance companies are also having to grapple with entirely new risk categories, which can present as both opportunities and threats. Rocco Petrilli, CEO of National Cannabis Risk Prevention Services, gave an enlightening talk about the challenges and opportunities of cannabis insurance while speakers from Berkley Fire & Marine, Zurich and Milliman kicked off their panel with a discussion about the changing risk landscape posed by crypto, cyber and climate change.

Jonathan Charak, VP, Emerging Solutions Director at Zurich, said rising temperatures meant increased humidity in the atmosphere – and thus increased rainfall in areas not built to withstand the additional water.

“We need to come together as an industry and build a support system to make progress”



“In urban areas, we’ll see more flash flooding yet many buildings have their HVAC in the basement,” said Charak, saying this creates an opportunity for underwriters to move into risk mitigation and “advise their insurers to move those systems to higher floors to help them mitigate those risks and make sure they stay as going concerns.”

The InsurTech shambles

There then followed a frank discussion between Donald Lacey, Chief Investment Officer of Ping An Global Voyager, and Charles Merritt, CEO of Buddy, which may have made for uncomfortable listening for those who invested in InsurTech 1.0.

“The performance of every InsurTech that went public was shambolic, with valuations down 93 per cent and a lot of M&A acquisitions worked out extremely badly and there was a lot of buyer remorse,” said Lacey. “It’s been incredibly ugly.”

Insurance Innovators Summit Delegates


Merritt approached from the other side, pointing out that during the pandemic his start-up adopted the cockroach as its spirit animal with the mantra to just survive. Buddy not only survived but also pivoted to become a developer gateway so that companies can implement insurance solutions in minutes rather than months.  “Figure out what your superpower is and then focus on that,” he said.

The Day 2 sessions certainly highlighted the many ways technology is challenging, reshaping and retooling the industry.

“The whole market is ripe for disruption,” said John Huffman, CEO and Chief Insights Officer at GFI Research. “We are historic companies that are risk adverse – we are screaming out for disruption.”

And that disruption is coming from so many emerging technologies: crypto, driverless cars, generative AI, NFTs, metaverse and blockchain.

It’s no exaggeration to say that delegates will have left Nashville with their heads buzzing with new ideas and their phones buzzing with new contacts made at the many networking events.

‘It’s been a great couple of days here at Insurance Innovators USA. I’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot and share about innovation going on in the industry. We are in the middle of an ever-evolving state of change, and I look forward to seeing some of the new things we learned about get implemented.’

Michael Vaccarello, CRO,

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