Interview with Sebastian Pitzler

Sebastian Pitzler on the conditions for a successful cooperation between InsurTechs and insurers

Sebastian Pitzler

"In the beginning, InsurTechs were considered to be the aggressors of traditional insurers. In the meantime, both sides have understood that they can only succeed in revolutionizing the industry if they work together".

About Sebastian Pitzler

Sebastian Pitzler is the managing director of the InsurLab Germany e. V. a true specialist in the fields of innovation, digitalization and InsurTech. His experience is based on working in various positions at the interface between IT and insurance departments for ERGO and now InsurLab Germany. Most recently, as head of the ERGO Digital Lab the establishment and expansion of an ERGO innovation laboratory in the Berlin start-up scene, before moving to InsurLab Germany in March 2018 With the InsurLab, Sebastian is pursuing the goal of networking insurance companies and start-ups and paving the way for innovations within the insurance industry. His work is making a valuable contribution to driving digitization in both the consumer and B2B business, thus leading the industry into a new era. InsurLab Germany is a joint initiative of business, science and public institutions.

Magnus

Could you first of all define the term InsurTech from your professional point of view?

Sebastian

For some years now, the insurance industry has been stirred up by "InsurTechs". InsurTech stands for Insurance Technology. In this respect, we are talking about startups that develop technologies and digital solutions for the insurance industry. In the meantime, more than a thousand young companies worldwide, which can be classified as "InsurTech", are united in various categories. InsurTech start-ups can generate added value along the value-added chain of an insurer by solving individual problems or process steps in a particularly innovative and effective way - by using modern technologies or a special customer focus.
Sebastian Pitzler

Magnus

What trends are currently determining the InsurTech market? And what are the unoccupied fields so far?

Sebastian

In fact, digitisation and start-up integration is spreading through all areas of the value chain. The customer interface represents a very present innovation point. Customers today expect fast, simple and reliable service. In our everyday life we are used to get what we want with just a few clicks. In the insurance industry, however, the situation is quite different: Stacks of paper, long waiting times and little trust characterise the relationship between customer*in and insurer. This applies to both advice and the conclusion of the contract, the notification of damage and subsequent payment. This is where many startups come in and help insurers modernize and optimize the customer experience. Modern customer portals and apps, chat bots, damage reporting via video and artificial intelligence as a decision-making aid are just a few of the keywords that are changing the industry. In terms of technologies, we will hear a lot more about artificial intelligence (AI), Blockchain and the "Internet of Things" (IoT) in the future. All three technologies have already found their way into the industry and have proven to be sustainable. I am convinced that we can expect some very promising and positive developments in the form of product, service and business model innovations in the coming years. Besides the "obvious" customer interface, InsurTechs will increasingly find their way into the so-called back office systems of insurers. Novel technologies such as AI optimize and modernize insurers' IT systems so that customers and insurers alike will benefit from faster and smarter processes.
Sebastian Pitzler

Magnus

Where do you see the greatest opportunity for Digital Health in the InsurTech industry in 2020?

Sebastian

In my view, the greatest opportunity for digital health issues is that insurers can transform themselves from passive reimbursers to active life companions. By cooperating with innovative start-ups such as YAS.life, insurers can offer new value-added services that focus on topics such as prevention and a healthier lifestyle. This holds considerable potential for policyholders, such as insurers. Digital health technologies lead to more transparency and thus awareness. In addition, new possibilities to recognize health risks early on, thereby avoiding them, or, after an incident, to treat them more quickly and effectively.
Sebastian Pitzler

Magnus

How necessary is an InsurTech revolution in Germany? Or are we in the middle of something?

Sebastian

We're in the middle of it! The digital transformation has been going on for several years in a wide variety of industries. This pressure to innovate has not stopped at the insurance industry. Innovative start-ups have already developed many insurance-specific solutions in this area, which can now also create added value in the insurance industry. The synergy effects that can arise from cooperation between start-ups and established insurers are enormous and are already giving the market a different face now and will continue to do so in the future. The InsurTech scene is still relatively young, in a state of change and offers enormous potential due to its diversity. Therefore, there is no better time than now for insurers to face the challenges of digitisation and to enter into cooperation with start-ups. We at InsurLab Germany are of course happy to help with this.
Sebastian Pitzler

Magnus

In your position as managing director of InsurLab, you work a lot with start-ups and have a good insight into the industry. You have probably seen many companies grow and fail. In your opinion, what is the decisive factor that makes a start-up a stable InsurTech company?

Sebastian

One of the most important factors is to build trust - depending on the business model, either directly to the end customers or to the insurers as cooperation partners. For what has become apparent is that especially start-ups that position themselves as solution providers for insurers have a higher potential for success. In the beginning, InsurTechs were seen as an attacker of traditional insurers. In the meantime, both sides have understood that they can only succeed in revolutionizing the industry if they work together. This brings us to the second factor: it is essential to understand the language of insurers and to look at their world of thought and processes. The third point is: A long breath! In the insurance industry, start-ups have to expect longer sales and project development cycles, which can be the death knell for many young companies. These financial challenges must be taken into account.
Sebastian Pitzler

Magnus

What kind of cooperation between insurance and startup would you personally wish for?

Sebastian

Of course I would like to have as many cooperations as possible - and exactly where it makes sense! The start-ups have to pick up where insurers have left off on their own. By networking their know-how, they can create something great and innovative together, and in such a way that the customer ultimately benefits from the cooperation. We would like to see the cooperation that creates a win-win situation: Growth and new customers for the start-ups, modern technologies, real product and service innovations for the established insurers.
Sebastian Pitzler

Magnus

In the field of digital health and insurance: What are the previously unmet needs of the individual insured?

Sebastian

In my view, there is potential for improvement in terms of access to healthcare (getting appointments, finding the right doctors), patient communication and billing processes. Simple processes and user-friendly services would help here. Topics such as telemedicine, digital health coaches, access to smart wearable devices that collect and evaluate health/vital data in real time could be future topics here. The so-called "health ecosystem" is often referred to, but there are too many media breaks, for example in the billing of medical bills (including in the private sector). In this area, many things are still analogue - nevertheless, some things could already be optimised by actively using the technical possibilities. Unfortunately it often fails due to data security or other regulatory premises. The Digital Supply Act, which was only passed at the end of 2019, can certainly provide positive support in this respect! Nevertheless, there are already very good cooperations, such as with YAS.life or betterdoc - keep it up!
Sebastian Pitzler

Magnus

Hand on heart: How far behind are we in Germany with InsurTech? What has to change to give more room to innovation?

Sebastian

In my opinion, Germany is not in such a bad position at the moment - the attention for topics such as InsurTechs and start-up collaboration has increased considerably in recent years. Of course, we must continue our efforts to promote and retain good ideas and good founders in Germany and to enable them to cooperate and exchange information with insurers at all times. This is exactly why we, InsurLab Germany, are actively involved in facilitating cooperation between start-ups and insurers and further strengthening the innovative power of the insurance industry!
Sebastian Pitzler

Magnus

What does a day with you look like and is there time for hobbies and sports?

Sebastian

Currently, my job takes up a large part of my time on weekdays. But the weekends are sacred to me - I enjoy this time especially with my wife and my son. With a four-year-old son, there is a lot to experience at the weekend. I should definitely do more sports. Says my Apple Watch, too. 😉 Speaking of Apple Watch: I'm a real gamer when it comes to technology and would describe myself as a tech enthusiast - from my Smart Home, my "Connected Car" to the Apple Watch and iPhone, I have fun and interest in networking the things in my everyday life and making them "smarter". Some time ago I was given the nickname "iPitzler".
Sebastian Pitzler

Magnus

Your favourite health or sports gadget?

Sebastian

My favorite health gadget is my Apple Watch. It gives me a feeling for my daily level of activity and motivates me to achieve set goals again and again. In addition, I occasionally have little "challenges" with friends that can be organized via the Apple Watch. If I would do more sports, I could still enjoy the full potential of this great gadget. My mountain bike used to be one of my favourite sports gadgets - I worked on it a lot.
Sebastian Pitzler

Magnus

Do you have a motto that you live by?

Sebastian

As an iPitzler, I have to give a Steve Jobs quote. "Stay hungry, stay foolish" fits best.
Sebastian Pitzler

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