InsurTech 2017: Why Boston (And MA) Is Poised To Be A Hub Of Insurance Innovation

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This article was first started in June 2016, when a bevy of insurance start-ups in the Greater Boston area first began to appear on our radar. As Agency Checklists learned of more start-ups, the deadline for this article kept getting pushed back from one week to the next. That was until we learned about Insurtech Boston.

After speaking with the founders of Insurtech Boston and learning about their second event which attracted over 200 people, we knew this was a trend our readers would want to know about and follow.

As Agency Checklists has gotten more involved in learning about the rise of insurtech in 2016, the more convinced we became of the opportunities that it could bring to the insurance community, not only in Boston, but in all of Massachusetts.

So what exactly is “insurtech”?

“Insurtech” has been without a doubt the buzz word of insurance industry talk in 2016. So what exactly does the term mean?

Aside from marrying the words “insurance and “technology,” the term, “insurtech,” designates companies focused on “disrupting” current insurance industry business models through new technology that may include smartphone apps, peer-to-peer networks, smart devices making up the Internet of Things, and even old-fashioned websites with product offerings. These innovative technologies supposedly will make various segments of the insurance industry more efficient and cost-effective for consumers, insurance carriers, and in some case independent agencies (IAs).

Why cover “insurtech” when these start-ups are only out to “disrupt” the industry and destroy the independent agent?

While “disrupt” is a word that makes up a big part of the insurtech mantra, not all insurtech start-ups are out to rid the world of IAs – See this week’s interview with Ask Kodiak for example. In fact, many of them, like AskKodiak, Apliant, Duckcreek and Veruna, are actually out their trying to help agents became better.

Plus, is there any doubt now, after the arrival of “Managed Competition” and direct writers in Massachusetts, that the independent agency system can not only handle change, but thrive in the face of it? What the rise of insurtech does show is there are many companies out there trying to develop better tools for agents and carriers to become more agile, efficient and tailored to their customers’ needs.

Why Boston and Massachusetts have the opportunity to become “insurtech” leaders

Agency Checklists, MA Insurance News, Mass. Insurance NewsThe launch this year of three new Boston-based online insurance platforms brought the number of such platforms based in the Greater Boston area to at least six caught Agency Checklists’ interest. In addition, other insurtech startups, including a newly-launched agency management system startup, and other local tech companies focusing on drone development, telematics, and artificial intelligence, piqued Agency Checklists’ interest to take a more in-depth look at how Boston and its environs were fostering insurtech development.

While not necessary to justify our belief that Boston is becoming an innovative insurance Hub, it is noteworthy to mention that Agency Checklists was not the only one to notice that Boston is becoming one of the country’s most innovative cities.

According to a new study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, entitled “Innovation that Matters Most,” Boston has positioned itself as the U.S. city best prepared to find success in the evolving digital economy. The annual study, now in its second year, takes a look and ranks the top 25 U.S. urban centers based upon how these cities attract talent, increase investments, develop specializations, create density, connect with their community as well as build that all important culture of innovation. Here’s a look at the top 25 in 2016.

Agency Checklists, MA Insurance News, Mass. Insurance News

Photo courtesy of the Innovation Matters Report

After a review of a dozen key indicators, the report found that Boston ranks #1 ahead of Silicon Valley based on the cities’ “…readiness to foster entrepreneurial growth and innovation in the next wave of the digital economy.” To view the whole report, continue on to the 1776 website here.

A look at the 16 Massachusetts-based insurtech start-ups we have found:

Please note, Agency Checklists attempted to include any new insurtech start-ups that emerged in 2016. We have broadly defined this to include any type of company developing new products or platforms within the insurance industry. This list is by no means definitive and we did our best to find all of the companies doing business in and around Massachusetts. If we missed one, please let us know and we will add it to the list! In order to be fair, the slideshow is alphabetical order…

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Okay so what’s next?

Since Boston is emerging insurtech hub, Agency Checklists will do its part to make the Massachusetts insurance industry more aware of the companies, products and people working in insurtech.

Agency Checklists will post on its front-page calendar the next Insurtech Boston event and any other similar events for interested readers to know about and possible attend. Also, check out our articles about AskKodiak, Insurify, Clearsurance, Insurtech Boston, and MassChallenge. (To find, just put these names in the search box on the upper right-hand corner of the Home Page). Stay tuned for more articles about the insurtech industry here in Massachusetts.