Source: Times of India

India: Zurich-headquartered reinsurance major Swiss Re is setting up a first-of-its-kind insurancetech accelerator in Bengaluru to tap into Indian startups, as technology is reshaping underwriting and is becoming important for sharper customer targeting.

The 152-year-old reinsurer which provides insurance to insurance companies and their products has partnered with Bengaluru-based Kyron Accelerator for the project. The 16-week programme aims to mentor startups at the intersection of technology and insurance. In Europe and the US, SwissRe works with Barclays Rise and the Alchemist Accelerator respectively.

Swiss Re is looking at startups in the areas of internet of things (where devices can communicate to each other), innovative distribution channels and robotic advisors and analytics. The $13 billion firm already has a technology centre in Bengaluru, which is its fifth largest facility globally after those in Zurich, London, New York and Bratislava (capital of Slovakia).

The reinsurance business has been a slow adopter of technology because it’s in undated with complex regulatory frameworks and legacy issues, said Jason Richards, head of property and casualty business management in Swiss Re.

“The business has been around for a long time, you have to deal with legacy. It slows you down. And regulations are often complex for good reason,” said Richards.

¬†Swiss Re will partner with Nasscom 10,000 Startups and Kyron to curate startups and foster technology innovation. “Insurance firms are sitting on huge piles of data that can be mined for better risk profiling and developing personalized products and help us break-out from a portfolio approach,” said Alok Kumar, managing director of Swiss Re Bengaluru. The company expects innovative solutions from startups to profile their customers better and tailor financial solutions to individual needs. Richards said that consumer engagement in the insurance industry is low. “We are trying to see how we can move from push based demand to a pull-based one,” Kumar added.
Swiss Re will work with 4-5 startups for the first batch and will provide non-equity grant to these startups along with mentorship and business engagement. “We will be open to partners, whether it’s from insurance firms or any other company,” said Amit Kalra, head of strategic initiatives in Swiss Re. The applications are open to startups from other emerging markets.

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