INSTANDA chief exec on difficult problems vs complex opportunities
Why it all comes back to speed and simplicity
There’s an inexorable agnosticism running in the veins of INSTANDA – and it’s the fuel that powers the insurtech giant’s open-handed approach to partnerships. It all comes down to speed and simplicity, according to CEO Tim Hardcastle (pictured). Those are the two critical metrics for the success of any partnership, whether working with larger insurance incumbents or new startups.
INSTANDA relishes the opportunity it has to work with both sides of the equation, he said, and to exercise the premise at the heart of the business, that of being a “speedboat” helping other ships go faster. It has been a busy few months for the team who have recently been working with a number of healthcare providers looking to do things differently in the insurance market and create meaningful change for their customers.
“I think the common theme between all our partnerships is that the companies most attracted to working with us tend to be facing either a difficult problem to solve or a complex opportunity, depending on whether they’re a glass half empty or glass half full type,” he said. “What they find is that once they’ve done the right elements assembled for success – the regulatory approvals, the balance sheet, the capacity, etc. – then they look at the technology.
“But when you go around the market, you see that the technology available to solve complex problems or enable complex opportunities is few and far between. And the reason for that is simply that technology is very expensive to change. Changing technology takes time and money and when you’re a company trying to be more innovative, you need to make that change relatively quickly and relatively inexpensively.”
Hardcastle noted that there is a real appetite out there for cost-effective, time-efficient solutions that don’t require insurance firms to “bet the farm”, which is where INSTANDA is looking to make its mark. The hallmark of the way the insurtech’s platform works is that it is designed to embrace complexity and simplify it, he said, and, looking across the market, he can’t see many other tech firms able or willing to accomplish that without multi-million-pound price tags.
“The second common theme of our partnerships is that we work with teams that are trying to make the most of those complex opportunities,” he said. “[Our clients] tend to be very ambitious. They’re trying to break the mould and do something different. So, therefore, they can be a bit challenging, a bit demanding and we love that. We liked to be pushed, to be challenged, to be allowed to explore the boundaries of what we can do.”
INSTANDA’s approach to partnerships extends to the ecosystem it is building around itself by working with other companies to bolster its offering and reach. Touching on the latest partnership with UnderwriteMe that the firm is embarking on in the life and health space, Hardcastle highlighted how the right collaboration can eliminate complexity from the inherently complex insurance ecosystem as well as signposting to the wider market that INSTANDA is a trusted and respected brand.
“We’re not just only believers in partnership, we also created a marketplace for ourselves about four years ago which has 200 companies in it,” he said. “And we’re very prepared to be part of other people’s ecosystems, which I think is a hallmark of the respect we have for [the industry]. As a former CIO, I implemented, managed and ran systems that tried to be everything to everybody. They were very expensive and slow to change for that very reason.
“So, with INSTANDA, we went 180 degrees from that. We said, ‘remove the code so change becomes fast and inexpensive. And open yourself up to working with other firms and other technologies that are brilliant at what they do.’ We embrace that we can’t be all things to everybody, you have to accept that there are combinations where two plus two makes five. That’s our philosophy.”
At the end of the day, it all comes back to speed and simplicity, Hardcastle said, and looking across the wider market, it’s clear that the insurance industry is not alone in recognising and appreciating that speed and agility are paramount to success. Look at the history of any sector, and the winners are always the ones who found ways to get ahead of the curve, and who seized every opportunity to become faster and more agile.
This is especially relevant right now, he said, with so much uncertainty facing businesses and with such a plethora of external economic, geopolitical and technological factors all coming together at once. Responding to these different challenges while juggling the changing nature of consumer requirements and expectations is a tightrope but it’s one all organisations have to walk.
“On the one hand, it is very challenging,” he said. “But there’s also a real opportunity in there as well. There’s the opportunity for an organisation to get that speed and agility in place, to make the most of their changing environment, and to meet their customers’ needs and provide a good, reliable experience. Because, in changing times, people want reassurance, solidity and comfort. Insurers that can provide that with the right proposition – they are going to be the winners.”
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