I have recently started to interview people and companies in the FinTech / InsurTech space. I recently managed to get some time to interview Nikolaus Suehr the founder and CEO of KASKO…
I am Nick, and I am the Co-Founder and CEO of an InsurTech Startup called KASKO.
I have been surrounded by insurance my whole life – the family business is an insurance MGA specialising in classic cars. When setting out to start KASKO, this experience was important and wherever we went with the company, there was a belief from very early on that the insurance industry needed fixing from the inside out and not the outside in. Simply put, the intricacies and complexities need a foundation of knowledge with an injection from the outside world, not the outside world crashing in.
After studying Insurance and Risk Management in the UK, I moved back to Germany in 2008 to work with a leading commercial brokerage and then worked at the family business for a bit. But it was not till after helping my sister with her own startup – a dating app at the time – that I knew I needed something more, something that I could call my own and somewhere to create a working environment of the sort that I had always wanted to work within. Somewhere that combined meaningful work, meaningful relationships and fair compensation for work put in and value created.
The next step was fairly easy, I knew that I wanted to start something, and the natural fit was insurance – I had a few ideas floating around, but didn’t want to rush things. The important bit was checking if I had a team.
Having ended up in the wrong halls at university, a turn of chance that has served me well ever since, I became great friends with Matthew Wardle – something of a genius turned IT architect – so I gave him a ring to see what his thoughts were on starting a company. So I have the insurance world down, and with Matt, the technical wizardry. You get some smart people out there, but he is next level. Not many people can pass their mechanical engineering exams with a couple of hours revision, I feel privileged to have him as a true partner and co-founder on everything that is KASKO. It helps that he is smarter than me and a good guy too, won’t lie.
Matt was keen, so we decided to run a test. With a few others, we set out to build a celebrity quotes app called Quotes of Glory. The intention was never to make our millions from this, but work out if we had a team that would work well together. Being friends is different to running a business together, so instead of diving in too deep, we (successfully) tested this – some others dropped off, but Matt and I knew we could, and wanted to, work together properly.
Fair enough. So, Matt and I had a few great initial ideas, and in January of 2015 I took a sabbatical to work out what was next. Naturally, with my insurance background and Matt’s technical knowledge, we went for KASKO Drive – think of what Cuvva is in the UK now and you will have something close to where we were then. Quickfire car insurance for people lending their car to a friendKeen to get moving quickly, we started applying for startup competitions (they seemed like a good way to get feedback, traction and hopefully funding to push forward).
Having quickly won the WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management’s three day Startup Pitch, we were moving, so naturally, I put one of the hardest decisions possible to Matt – ringing him up from Germany the day before he signed for his mortgage asking him not to do it, and instead, to hand in his notice and move to Germany where I was based at the time.
Matt quickly became the second most important person in my life to say yes to a life-changing question, the first of course being my wonderful wife.
Anyway, he was on his way to Germany.
A few more competition wins later and some serious development time on product, we had shifted to a B2B2C model – the tech was brilliant but there was a lagging worry that the user acquisition costs for a relatively unknown in the market, were high and the process was painfully slow – but again, the tech was there.
Following a move to London, where we are now headquartered, to join the immense Seedcamp cohort in early 2016 with the likes of Monese and Wefox not to say previous portfolio companies such as UIPath, Revolut and Transferwise, and a meeting with Baloise in Switzerland late that year, the business model that simply made sense was ready.
Baloise had recognised our tech offering, and wanted to whitelabel our platform to design products that could integrate with their multiple distribution channels seamlessly. And that, is what we do today.
KASKO offers what we call InsurTech as a Service.
We help insurance companies to configure, launch and scale insurance products at lighting speed. Our proprietary platform allows them to feed in data from all manners of sources and configure relevant, flexible insurance offerings in around six weeks. We can also digitise previously “on paper” offerings, bringing an incumbents “back-catalogue” of products up to date with the requirements of both modern and traditional distribution partners and customers. And this is the key differentiator: yes, we believe in the modern user who wants everything instant without a sales agent, but we also recognise that for years to come 80-90% of insurance will be sold via traditional channels. Thus, we set out to provide answers to both camps, fixing today’s issues whilst being ready when things start shifting further down the line.
Prior to KASKO, legacy IT systems and their supporting “technology” would need about 18 months to do what we do in six weeks, so we save a lot of time and money for insurers or startups looking to add new offerings to their existing sales channels or into new ecosystems, and allow them to use data that was simply too-hot-to-handle efficiently in the past.
Or, by working with KASKO it is 10x cheaper and faster… Sorry for the plug.
Recently we connected to third-party image recognition tools to launch insurance products that recognise the devices that need covering – that was quite cool, through to insurance for student renters, people whose valuable items aren’t many but are a massive percentage of their total possessed value. As in, we configured a product that allowed each person in a home to name their three main items and insure them, but one that could be handed over or quit when they moved, not requiring the whole household to start again from scratch, flexible and adaptable with very little legwork needed.
Insurance companies and startups looking to launch and scale out insurance products, but more importantly, the product managers within these companies who see that they have ample opportunity to create new products. To date we work with over 20 insurers in 8 countries and counting…
Ok, a prime example for us would be where a broker asks an insurance company for something to inject some life into a bancassurance proposition, but you want to build your B2C brand. The product manager will write a concept into the business plan and pitch it to the existing IT team, one that is stretched already and lacking the bandwidth to prioritise new ideas. Through no fault of their own, the IT systems are so tied up in keeping their legacy alive, fixing for regulation, there is no hope of building new structures or products at the speed required or even worse, tied up in a multi-year tens if not hundreds of million replatforming exercise. Imagine asking a heart surgeon to stop what they are doing a third of the way through an operation that will keep someone alive – to scrap that approach and try something brand new and experimental that will likely be the cure for the disease in the future – they are not going to jump on the opportunity, as they are mid way through the task, even though they understand the future scope of it all.
Another way of looking at our InsurTech as a Service offering, is to consider it as a “digital insurer in a box”, we offer a whitelabel solution that does the three main things a consumer or distribution partner wants from an insurance company, being able to purchase the offering when and where they want, being able to manage their contract and submitting a claim.
Our platform is built with consumer and insurance company in mind, it is structured to work alongside existing IT capacity, allowing the IT teams to catch up with previous tasks, whilst being added to where needed by our platform and increasing the database without sapping up human hours. For the consumer and distribution partner, they see the insurer as forward thinking and flexible to their modern requirements.
It is the classic discussion in the world of startups, and one that some will disagree with us on. Everyone seems to think that a startup is there to remove the traditional suits from the game – and when we started out, we thought like that. There are plenty trying it, and some with some success, but the business we have ended up building can help those startups if they want to take on the incumbents with shiny new, lightweight, flexible offerings AND allow the very same incumbents to catch up quickly with the startups trying to take them down.
Whoever you are, there is a space for you with KASKO. The beautiful thing we have found through collaborating with companies like Allianz, Baloise, Co-op, Swiss Re  and Zurich, and many more is that we get to build the products we always wanted to build but, whitelabeled as someone else’s own offerings meaning they can distribute our products through channels they have spent decades building.
Collaboration means the consumer gets the very best of the modern, with the trust that exists with the old, and our cost per user gained is far, far lower. InsurTech is part of FinTech, but unlike with neo-banks of the Revolut, N26, Monzo, Starling etc variety, there is not the fear and distrust in insurance companies that there is with the banks of old. The comparable problem for the insurance market is that it simply isn’t interesting. The trust is there, but nobody is too fussed about it. What we have helped “boring” companies do is inject a little bit of that FinTech buzz and excitement to a stagnant market.
And we are immensely proud of that.
You know how Visa is a cross border network that works everywhere, for anyone, if you have the right card (which everyone has)? We want to build that for insurance. I would love to have a glance at just ten minutes of global data for Visa.
Our goal is to build out a platform that allows insurance companies to offer scalable, flexible and direct to consumer insurance offerings – globally from one place.
One key milestone for this is opening up our internal development tools to external developers, to give everyone in the ecosystem who has IT capacity (e.g. Innovation teams at insurers, InsurTechs, Digital distributors, IT-Consultancies, traditional IT-Vendors) the tools to design and scale insurance products 10x faster and cheaper. We already started rolling out some features and are testing those in an alpha stage.
Other than that, we have some new products in the works to make life even easier for our partners, but till they are ready, we are remaining quiet on that front. Keep an eye out on KASKO’s blog and in the media for updates. Or sign up to our newsletter here.
Nikolaus completed his Management Studies in 2007 at Nottingham Business School, and completed an MSc in Insurance and Risk Management at the Cass Business School in London in 2008. He worked for commercial broker, Funk Gruppe, within product and business development in Hamburg. Later he joined the family business as head of business and product development at Oldie Car Cover. One year later, he joined Zeb, a boutique strategy consultancy firm for banks and insurance companies in Germany, working on several strategy, restructuring and digitisation initiatives for large banks and insurance companies.
KASKO offers “InsurTech as a Service“. Its cloud-based platform allows digital plug-and-play insurance products to be launched in under 6 weeks (traditionally this would take around 18 months), allowing for new product ideas to be tested and ‘existing on-paper’ products to be digitalised. The various modules KASKO offers include a white-labelled customer journey, digital quote-offer-bind, issuing policy documents, taking payments, policy administration and capturing first notification of loss (FNOL). As the platform is open it can also be used to test out third party solutions in the market.