Munich Re America's incubator drives industry transformation.
The incubator has several components. There’s a lab team that runs pilots and an underwriting unit. There are two strategic domains. One domain is focused on mobility, and the other is insurance on demand. These are two big themes within the space. Mobility is about getting people and goods from place to place. Insurance on demand is focused on how data, digitization, technology and consumer preferences are disrupting insurance as we know it—although we don’t see this as disruption but, rather, as an opportunity for our industry to evolve.
The underwriting unit is taking on what we’re calling frontier risks, like autonomous vehicles, car sharing and ride sharing, and we provide insurance coverage for companies that are operating in those areas. This is really exciting, learning how to underwrite these risks when there still is very little, if any, historical data to refer to for insights.
The team of specialists in the lab take on very early-stage ideas that have been through a vetting process to help us determine if we want to pilot them. The lab operates with a mix of lean startup tools as well as agile and design thinking. These help us shape minimally viable pilots to test them in the market before scaling. If a pilot is successful, we take some time in progressing it toward scale. And if the opportunity is very far removed from our existing business model, we might consider creating an entirely new business unit or spin the company out.
Outside of the incubator, across Munich Re’s North American operations, each of the company’s U.S. businesses has a group dedicated to innovation. These business units are working on innovations that align with their core business.
At a very high level, our role as a company is to continue to focus on our need to help protect people, our clients and businesses from the unknown. There’s a lot of change going on. It’s amazing to see what has happened in the last three to four years and to see whether the technology that you are investing in today will stand the test of time. Some may see this as disruption, but we see it as an opportunity.
We’re thinking more about how, as a reinsurer, we can add value to our clients by leveraging the data and insights that we see across all these areas of risk, as well as providing solutions and services beyond traditional reinsurance.
Doing this well can help fuel transformation and growth for us, for our clients and for the industry. That’s what I think is so exciting. It’s a really fascinating time to be in the industry. If we do this well, it’s going to change the way we handle risk in the future. It’s a really cool place to be.