Munich Re’s Digital Partners connect and learn from insurtechs

Hill first joined Digital Partners as senior asset manager, marketing, in October 2018 before becoming head of product management a year later and head of Digital Partners in October 2021. It was an independent entity within Munich Re when it was founded in 2016, and now it has merged with Munich Re Specialty Insurance and is considered an arm of the division.

Digital Partners plays an important role within Munich Re Specialty, and Munich Re in general, Hill explained.

“We are committed to working with insurtechs, or startups that work with insurtechs…. to partner and learn and deliver these lessons to the entire Munich Re organization,” said Hill. “We’re also here to provide education and fellowship to the insurtech community, and as a result, it gives us a unique perspective on how to best work with insurtech.”

Digital Partners connects with insurtech MGAs and others to help leverage and learn from their new solutions. Also, it works with insurtechs to bring their innovative ideas to Munich Re Specialty Insurance and to the market as a whole.

Hill feels that his work is helping to leverage what developers bring to the table.

“We rely on insurtechs to create a better mouse or box to handle customers differently than the market,” Hill said. “We don’t create technology, but we work according to the technology that insurtech is creating.”

So far, Digital Partners has supported as many as 12 partnerships in its history, he said.

Confrontation, availability and room for growth

The most effective insurance policies focus on reducing friction and making the purchasing process more accessible, Hill said.

“In terms of insurtech that may mean directly to the consumer or it may be to the agent or the seller, but the customer is still there,” Hill said. “It’s about making things easy, accessible, seamless and making it so that whoever the customer is, whoever you consider to be a customer at your value chain, the solutions are at hand.”

Many insurance companies have started to adopt the technology of insurance. It is at the crossroads, he said, where there is room for growth, but the insurer must choose the right way to maximize profits.

“We have a lot of conflicting paths ahead of us,” Hill said. “If the insurance industry cooperates intelligently and supports each other in a way that is open-minded, that’s where we learn, and that’s where we’re going to evolve.”

Gaps and obstacles remain, he said.

“Is insurance the one that needs technology these days? Probably not, “said Hill. “Each business has its own differences, because customers are looking for different ways to buy, and then we have to learn about those choices and allow them.”

Lots of options and preferences

Munich Re may partner with insurtechs through Digital Partners, but it also develops technology in-house, and holds venture capital that invests in startups.

Each process shows that there are multiple ways to develop technology and get different ideas to create the best solution, Hill said.

“We all want to try different things,” he added.

At the same time, Hill said, the partnerships allow Munich Re to look at the latest technology and bring back what it learns in the company.

“If we work with them, we can see more of this and take back what we’ve learned, and decide how … we want to deal with those things ourselves,” he said.

Hill said he pursues, in particular, insurtech technologies that help improve customer experience, fueled by data.

“The technology I focus on is focused on the customer journey and how they use data. [can inform] creating a hassle-free, easy-to-use insurance policy,” Hill said. “If you think about someone who is trying to buy a small business plan, verify the address, find out how much the house is, find out where it’s located – these are things that we don’t have to ask the customer that we already know because we’re removing them from the data.”