It sounds like a straightforward enough idea, but no one was doing it right: offer insurance for products that people buy online. That’s the concept behind Simplesurance, a German startup that was launched in 2012 and that Rakuten invested in earlier this year.
The company offers software solutions and a plug-and-play platform for retailers and portals that integrates seamlessly with e-commerce sites. For instance, if you’re buying a tablet or a smartphone, during the checkout process you might be presented with the option to purchase insurance in case of that product’s breakage or theft. You can get peace of mind for your new gadget without any extra paperwork.
Simplesurance is part of the red-hot insurance technology field, also known as insurtech, where traditional insurance business models are being revolutionized with digital technology. The company also has a web platform offering consumers the chance to purchase insurance for several months after they buy a new device. In addition, it has developed an app for managing insurance policies and communicating with insurance companies and customers.
In 2011, founders Joachim von Bonin and Robin von Hein got the idea for the company when they were traveling in Capetown, South Africa, and learned that because of dangerous road conditions, locals were buying life insurance via SMS before riding on minibuses. Compared to the paperwork-heavy process of buying life insurance in Germany, it was an eye-opener. The following year they established Simplesurance in Berlin.
“Cross-selling had been around for more than 10 years, especially for buying travel insurance when booking a flight,” Von Bonin said recently on the sidelines of the 2017 Rakuten Fintech conference in Tokyo. “But the difference was it wasn’t there on a large scale for other product verticals such as electronics. There were customized solutions that were difficult to maintain and were not optimized at all. The e-commerce shops don’t like wasting IT resources on that. We came in with a standardized solution.”
Because few data points are required for offering coverage, electronics makes up 80% of the company’s cross-selling business. But they also offer coverage for bicycles, car tires, musical instruments, eyeglasses and more. Simplesurance is always considering new categories of insurance. The technology platform is the same for each one, simplifying the process.
Nimble player in a hot industry
“One of our strengths is that we can test a new product very quickly, a certain price point and the consumer reaction,” Von Bonin said. “Where an incumbent member of the insurance industry typically takes 12 months to launch a new product, we can do it in 12 days.”
Simplesurance is now doing business in over 30 countries across the EU, with over 2,000 online shops using its insurance cross-selling solution. Rakuten completed its investment in Simplesurance through the Rakuten FinTech Fund, now part of Rakuten Capital, joining other investors such as insurance giant Allianz and bringing the startup’s total funding to date to more than €30 million. Capitalizing on its relationship with the Rakuten Group, Simplesurance has already cooperated with Rakuten.de, and other collaborations are being considered. Meanwhile, the startup is developing a broker business and has recruited professionals who have worked for firms such as American Insurance Group and Zurich Insurance Group, another sign that the sector is maturing quickly.
“Attention is increasing every year from the venture capital side and the industry side – there’s a lot of capital going into insurtech,” said Von Bonin. “It’s a young sector and a learning process for everybody, but out of this you’ll see an evolving ecosystem as we have seen in other industries that will serve to develop cooperation between startups and incumbents.”
Read more posts from the Rakuten FinTech Conference 2017 here.