Building an insurtech: Asterias’ story

Asterias: Andrew Walker (Co-Founder and CEO)

Guest blog by Andrew Walker, Co-Founder at Asterias

A Career in Insurance

Ironically, market modernisation is not a recent development. When I joined the insurance market as a broker in 2001, I became part of a team designated as the launch customer for Ri3k.  Ri3K was a digital platform for brokers and insurers to interact and transact business more efficiently.  Twenty years later and various iterations have led us to PPL and Whitespace and we are only finally beginning to see scaled adoption across the market. This experience provided me with early insight into the challenges of change in insurance and the task of connecting stakeholders with differing priorities.

In 2006, I transitioned to underwriting. I was fortunate to work for a great company with a clean slate and a desire to write business. However, I also learned how easily legacy problems can arise when the focus is solely on generating income. Disparate departments, such as claims and production or underwriting, inevitably operate in silos to accomplish ‘their job’, yet their needs and desires are interdependent. Furthermore, these departments are additionally beholden to 3rd party organisations and data.

A Systemic Issue with Claims

The industry refers to claims as ‘being its product’. Yet, those who sell insurance often have very little knowledge of the claims process and even less understanding of the macro data underlying the losses on the policies they write. Without this information, underwriting and advocacy will always be limited to the policy level, and broader class trends will continue to be difficult to discern in any meaningful way. Therefore, the insurance community requires comprehensive knowledge of this dataset in a format that optimises the process.

It is, therefore, unsurprising that there has been a surge in growth in captives, with ‘estimated growth set to soar from $72 billion in 2021 to over $250 billion by 2028’. Companies are increasingly failing to see the requisite value in the traditional products provided by the insurance market due to a lack of dynamism and adaptation to their needs.

Insurers are unable to undertake new risks due to a lack of understanding of the underlying data.

A Better Solution

Interoperational cooperation lies at the core of insurance. Processing data among different organisations is essential for the administration of premiums and claims, as well as for fraud detection and data security. In recent years, rapid progress in technology has created significant opportunities for this data to provide greater meaning and purpose as a product.

Asterias is developing an Interorganizational Information System (IOIS) that incorporates experts and policyholders, along with brokers and insurers, and allows data to be recorded at the source in a structured and interoperable code. It is critical for the industry to move away from disparate emails with attachments that contain sensitive client data. This pervasive problem can only be solved by software, and we are unique in this space.

We have been working closely with major insurance and broking partners to develop our product and are now engaging with policyholders to understand their specific problems, such as managing uninsured losses, data security, GDPR and CCPA. Asterias will provide a policyholder-centric solution that the market has long discussed but struggled to deliver.

Asterias’ Vision

The conversation between insurers/brokers and policyholders needs to fundamentally shift. The market must move from discussing generic risk to directly addressing the policyholder about their risk and what the data tells them about their specific problems at a granular level.

This can only happen when data is fully comparable and structured in the same way.

It has been an incredible two years. A lot has happened, and in no way would I ever pretend that everything has been easy! In that short time, though, I have witnessed a palpable shift towards technology and had some amazing conversations with a wide variety of people from multiple industries.  Experts from sectors ranging from gambling to medical health records have certainly opened my eyes to what is possible. 

With the support of  Insurtech Gateway and some other great partners, I hope the deeply passionate team behind Asterias will create something that one day we can’t imagine working without.

A note from Insurtech Gateway

“Thank you so much for sharing your story Andrew, we are proud to be supporting a venture making loss data so much easier to record and share. If you have a big idea for a scalable SaaS product or have already founded a pre-seed or seed insurtech, we have the experience and the tools to help you launch and scale faster. Check out our incubator and venture fund or get in touch.”