ITC DIA Europe

The Number 1 Insurtech Trend for 2019: Ecosystems beyond Insurance

Written by Roger Peverelli and Reggy de Feniks - Founders The DIA Community on Apr 8, 2019

The most effective way to tap into the real needs of customers is to be part of relevant platforms and ecosystems. Platforms where people go to, to solve the challenges they have in life, and the financial and risk challenges that go with them. Think of obvious platforms around home, mobility, work and health. But also of platforms around important life events such as study, marriage, divorce and retirement; important moments in someone’s life that require making important financial decisions. A great example is Mobly, Baloise’s platform in the mobility space. Mobly started helping customers when buying a second-hand car by providing all the relevant information, access to a wide range of service providers and support through a real expert that accompanies you during the buying process. Other mobility services already followed.

We believe ‘Ecosystems beyond insurance’ is the overarching trend for the years to come, the mega-trend if you would like to put it that way.
The Mobly best practice illustrates this perfectly. The real customer need is mobility. To fulfil this need they might decide to buy a second-hand car. The car insurance is a derived demand.



Solving the real needs behind the insurance need, usually requires more than insurance. ‘Insurance beyond industry boundaries’ is about ‘products beyond covers’; developing new services to address the real need rather than new insurance products. There are additional drivers for carriers to get out of their comfort zone as well. The rising costs of healthcare costs for instance, require wider solutions that go beyond payment of claims.

An ecosystem is truly successful when solving the customer’s real problem is seen as single most important point of departure, without being limited by the boundaries of the traditional insurance vertical. Cooperating should be the standard and not limited to players within the insurance sector.

When sector boundaries become blurry it becomes less relevant to put every player in a box. This means we shouldn’t dogmatically assess if a tech company truly is or isn’t an insurtech.
Three years ago, when the term ‘insurtech’ was first introduced, it was mostly meant as ‘challengers’ who wanted to attack the established order with new products or distribution models. Just think of Oscar and Lemonade.
Since then the definition of insurtech has slowly shifted to ‘enablers’, innovative tech companies that focus on assisting established carriers to improve and innovate specific parts of the insurance value chain.

The growing importance of ecosystems means we need to broaden our view even more. In our view every party that improves the insurer’s value proposition is interesting.
Other industries are often faster when it comes to applying new technology. RPA for instance, is typically a new technology that is developed in a different industry. Also, in the IoT and health space we see numerous young tech companies that purely focus on improving health care and more relief for patients – and not primarily on insurance.
Somnox for instance created a ‘sleeping robot’, to help people sleep better and to make sleeping pills obsolete. Although insurance is not their primary focus, it is evident that Somnox is interesting to carriers.

When you claim to believe in ‘ecosystems beyond insurance’ you have to live by this yourself. And we do that.
When preparing the program of each DIA conference, we take the developments in adjacent industries into account. As such, some of the keynote speakers we had on stage came from BMW, Rakuten and Philips. And among the 50 selected S&T presentations are a lot of innovative tech companies that make the link with other verticals, for instance by making use of data from health devices or car telematics.

‘Ecosystems beyond insurance’ is also a leading principle in a number of our partnerships. We’re very pleased to announce that DIA is also a partner of the recently launched Barcelona Health Hub. We so strongly believe in ‘ecosystems beyond insurance’ that we even decided to move our Barcelona office to the Barcelona Health Hub. Here we find ourselves surrounded by all kinds of young companies that operate in health and at the intersection of health and insurance.

This seemed like a good occasion to sit down with ‘our landlord’ Luis Badrinas Pilon, CEO of Barcelona Health Hub and Community of Insurance, and ask about the big ideas and plans behind this initiative.

Luis Badrinas has dedicated the largest part of his impressive career to the insurance world. He started at Vitalicio Seguros, part of Generali Group. He then became CEO of the Insurance Group of Deutsche Bank for Spain and Portugal. And after the acquisition of Deutsche Bank´s insurance business by Zurich he was appointed CEO of Global Life Spain and member of the Leardership Team of the Zurich Group. In 2014 Luis created the Community of Insurance with Carlos Biurrun. CoI is a knowledge communication and management company that promotes innovation through startups / insurtechs and digital technologies.

Luis, can you explain what the hub is about?
Luis: “Barcelona Health Hub is a non-profit association. Our mission is to promote innovation in digital health and to transfer this to the sector. To achieve this we’re linking startups, health organizations, companies and investors. We’ve created an ecosystem to accelerate digital transformation in the health sector.”

Would you be willing to share the vision behind the Barcelona Health Hub? What imperfection is the hub solving?
Luis: “We aim to build a global ecosystem around the world, linking all the players that are engaged in promoting digital health.
I would not talk about imperfection, I’d rather talk about digital trends. We identified the most important digital health trends, which give us a cutting-edge overview of where healthcare and medicine are heading; genomics and the blockchain, symptom checkers, the technological battle against diabetes, the bond between health insurance and wearable trackers gets stronger, mixed reality integrates into medical education, and Artificial Intelligence gets medical evidence.”

What is the big idea?, and can you share the philosophy of the hub?
Luis: “We really want to connect all those who are working on the improvement of health. Specifically those who apply digital health solutions to improve people’s lives; which is so crucial in view of the aging of the population. Companies, organisations, innovations, ideas that defend a healthy life, improve attention through digital devices, avoid the collapse of hospitals and gather the necessary talent to carry it out. We believe that a digital health ecosystem will stimulate contacts and links between startups, investors, corporates, hospitals and universities.”

There are already quite a few companies part of the hub … We were just in time to move into our new office!
Luis: “Yes! The hub is taking off even faster than we expected. It seems we’re tapping into a real need. In just three months we already have more than 50 entities on board; a wide range of startups, corporates and investors. We are currently also connecting with universities, hospitals and public and private institutions.
Companies and organizations can become part of the hub in two ways, either by occupying a space as a resident, just like DIA is doing, or as an associate member from anywhere in the world.”

In what way does the Hub facilitate the cooperation between these companies?
Luis: “Via all sorts of activities. We promote collaboration among all agents in the sector. We help companies and entities to develop their business in the digital health sector and make them more competitive. We actually started being a meeting place for innovators; conducting meetings, exhibitions, seminars and conferences to promote digital health; all aimed at disseminating knowledge and create progress. We also stimulate innovation in health through the adoption of new digital technologies.”

Can you give a concrete example?
Luis: “In the US for example, AXA has partnered with Oscar Health, the first and largest 100% digital health insurance player, that plans to generate significant increase in premium revenue. In Europe, Generali launched a health initiative ‘Vitality’ to support customers to have a healthier behavior.
Mediktor is also reaching agreements with various insurance companies, as Munich Re, DKV, Mapfre, etcetera.”

Quite a few of these brands are also involved in the Barcelona Health Hub … Of course when we decided to move our Barcelona office to the hub we were not only attracted by your philosophy, but also by the awesome location of the Hub …
Luis: “Haha – Yes, we’re very fortunate to be based on this extraordinary and impressive architectural complex. The former Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The entire complex was designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, one of the leading architects of Modernism, Art Nouveau. It was actually a hospital for almost 100 years. So, the environment is totally in sync with the purpose of the Barcelona Health Hub. Our 2,000 m2 offices are in the Sant Manuel pavilion, combining art nouveau with the latest technology in coworking and showroom spaces.”

So, the location works two ways: the hub is part of Sant Pau’s health ecosystem and vice versa …
Luis: “Definitely. We are building an international reference model here in Barcelona. We’re bringing together our member companies with the Hospital, its Research Institute, the School of Medicine (UAB) and the School of Nursing (EUI-Sant Pau). Part of my role as CEO is to foster the interaction between startups, health corporations and investors to activate the digital change in healthcare, and linking universities and hospitals around the globe.”

Are there any future plans to look out for?
Luis: “We will continue working for an international reference centre in digital medicine, attracting innovation and talent, and positioning Barcelona as a leader, a global benchmark and European capital of the emerging digital health sector.”

From left to right: 
Cristian Pascual Forcada (Co-Founder and CEO, Mediktor), Luis Badrinas Pilon (CEO, Barcelona Health Hub & Community of Insurance), Reggy de Feniks (Co-Founder, DIA), Carlos Biurrun (Founder, Community of Insurance) and Josep Carbó (Business Development, Mediktor) during DIA Munich.

Munich 22-23 November


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