CHAPTER 1 – The story of INSHUR….so far

Building a fast growth #insurtech start-up, still requires some solid, old-fashioned, business thinking

The insurance industry was founded in the UK around the 17th century, by the English colonist, Robert Hayman, born out of a need to protect his assets, a ship at the time, and indeed the life of a captain.  The fundamental principles feel remarkably similar today.  But the evolutionary timeline of the insurance industry has at times been slow.

One thing any progressive industry needs to do is be reflective of the industry and customers it serves.  Reflecting the times today has never been more complex; the insurance sector is at an inflection point.  There are some forces at play meaning new ways to deliver insurance are required.

But too many entrepreneurs, products and startups often, in their haste for growth, overlook fundamental business principles.

The INSHUR backstory

cakeIn early 2016, while developing an online quote and buy insurance product, the founders of INSHUR spotted an opportunity.  The idea becomes the foundation of the business as we know it today.  The opportunity was to speed up the process of providing TNC (Transportation Network Company) insurance to drivers in the NYC area.  Not reinventing insurance. But a deep focus on the process of administering and delivering an experience more relevant to the smartphone connected TNC driver.

The growth of the sharing economy and companies who smartly connect buyer with suppliers, like AirBnB, Lyft and Uber, were redesigning the customer/supplier dynamic.

We are witnessing a new era, focused on removing the friction from manual processes and putting customer-centric thinking and technology at the center of the experience.  From these forces, the #insurtech industry has arisen.

Like so many new players and especially the entrepreneurial and startup sector, there is lots of hyperbole and at times exaggeration. The hype serves some purpose, as it stirs the hornets’ nest, making the larger incumbent businesses in the insurance space, jittery and nervous.  

But warnings need to be heeded, and some of the heat needs to be taken out of #insurtech thinking.  

Being ‘a start-up’ is not a replacement for how businesses should operate.  The same principles of solid business models, revenue generation, profit and purpose, all still apply.

INSHUR has avoided some of the typical pitfalls and focused on four key principles:

  1.    The development of a product that is fit for purpose and solves a problem
  2.    A team able to be responsive and change direction fast
  3.    A continuous loop of listening and learning to iterate based on customer need
  4.    Build sustainable, profitable business growth     

Purpose

The team behind INSHUR identified the difficulties faced by TNC drivers wanting to search for and buy commercial insurance.   Under pressure to be ‘on the road’ as any time away, meant a loss of income, INSHUR was born to meet this unmet market demand.

Research from INSHUR’S Q1 2017 report, highlights this need for a fast and convenient service.  64% of INSHUR policies are searched for and purchased outside of regular office hours.

The moment of seamless service has arrived and with a ‘zero question’ process now a norm for INSHUR, customer growth and most importantly referrals are following.  

Furthermore, the TNC industry is now a mobile-first sector.  Everyone’s boss is an algorithm and the idea of having to print out forms, sign and return them and wait, is at odds with how they operate.

The current record so far for a customer to successfully buy a policy with INSHUR is only 171 seconds.

How

The INSHUR product serves a specific need in the market, by keeping TNC drivers, driving.  The team and company are focused on lean and agile technological development.

Dan Bratshpis, co-founder of INSHUR, said: “The INSHUR platform was developed with a geographically distributed team, all of whom followed a best practice agile framework; the primary focus on delivering business value as quickly as possible. In fact the first beta version was released just 12 weeks after the project started and since that point there have been regular releases building on the feedback received from users. Six months on and the latest release is vastly improved from the initial release and we continue to add new features on a fortnightly basis.

Even though we know we offer a vastly superior experience to the traditional buying cycle there are still areas that we want to improve.

The INSHUR back end is built on the OpenUnderwriter platform, which uses best of breed open source components integrated with Insurance data models and business logic to deliver agile and scalable solutions.

The native iOS and Android apps ensure a seamless customer experience with a focus on allowing customers to purchase policies with maximum speed and minimum data entry.

The integration of industry leading services like Stripe and DocuSign for payments and signatures has enabled us to accelerate our speed to market.”

At only 12 months old, it is clear that INSHUR’s mobile-first approach is finding favour and an audience.  With a total of 175,000 licenced drivers in the New York area alone, the opportunity is considerable.  

Future potential aside, the focus remains on building a product and providing a service both agile and growth focused like a hungry startup but also underpinned by solid business principles.