Beyond Corn & Caucuses: Global Insurance Symposium Wrap-Up

Iowa is something of a dark horse when it comes to insurance innovation. I recently attended the third annual Global Insurance Symposium (GIS), held in Des Moines, where hundreds of insurance companies, lawmakers and the new kids on the block—technology startups—came together to discuss the rapid industry growth, pioneer innovation and hear new companies pitch their latest ideas, via ACORD Innovation Challenge and Global Insurance Accelerator.

ACORD hosts pitch challenges in the usual cities such as New York and London, but Des Moines, Iowa?  I quickly saw why Iowa is becoming one of the top states for growing businesses. Iowa is home base to more than 200 insurance companies. Fueled by the affordable cost of doing business, large companies are branching out or locating their headquarters in cities like Des Moines.  With the second largest concentration of insurance sales in the country, it’s definitely a city to watch for the latest insurtech innovation.

“Historically within the insurance industry, there has been a certain level of friction that exists amongst various stakeholders – including carriers, regulators and tech startups.  Participating in events like Des Moines’ Global Insurance Symposium, helps remove the friction and provides a forum to bring people together who can affect change in this new world of innovation in the insurance business.”

Gregory Bailey, Co-Founder & CEO of Denim™

The audience was a mixture of insurance carriers, government agencies, and startups, all eager to discuss the growing investment in insurance and the biggest challenges that lay ahead. It was good to see a number of regulators in attendance. Insurance is a highly regulated industry, complex in nature as it is governed differently in each state. All these regulations need to be considered when determining how insurance is distributed and sold. Insurance regulation needs to change to catch up with emerging technologies. There was much discussion about how to establish laws and regulations that help rather than hinder the changes taking place in the industry.

This topic spurred some great conversations with fellow #insurtech startup founders Jennifer Fitzgerald (Co-Founder & CEO, PolicyGenius) and Adam Cassady, (Co-Founder & CEO, Tyche).

​The panel fielded questions about “life after funding” and what it is like to work with large insurance carriers as an earlier stage startup.

Up until 2014, insurance was an unlikely tech investment or growth opportunity, so it is particularly exciting to see its rapid-fire growth and presence at global events such as this one, which brought together experts from all over the country.

The partnerships being forged between tech startups and insurance carriers are crucial to the disruption and development of new business processes that will reinvent consumer interaction. I’m looking forward to participating in more events like GIS in the upcoming months.

That moment when you run into one of the icons at the forefront of insurance, Guy Fraker, pictured here with me, both of us sporting our colorful Adidas. Come to find out, our wives had bought us our shoes…Great minds think alike! Thank you to David Dias (Insurance Thought Leadership) for pulling us together and taking the picture.