Interview: Noam Shapira, Co-Founder and President of Pattern Insurance
Noam Shapira, Co-Founder and President of Pattern Insurance, spoke to Mandy Langfield about his plans for ongoing disruption to the insurance sector
You've been called 'a serial entrepreneur' – what drives you in your work to deliver new products and solutions?
One of the things that I find fascinating about humans is that our evolution is not just an act of nature, but also our ability to question what we don’t know, why things work the way they do, and can we do things differently to improve our lives? In the 15th and 16th centuries, it was the explorers – who crossed oceans in long and hard expeditions to find new worlds. In our age, I feel startups are like these expeditions, and entrepreneurs are like explorers. We start with a problem or a question – why things work the way they do, and can we make them better? We then go on a journey on rough and unknown seas. You need to have a map and plan but realise that the map is an estimate and often not correct, and you need to deal with the unexpected. Constantly learn and change to make sure that you reach your destination. Even though this journey often ends without reaching the goal you wanted, you might find a new destination, and the adrenaline of making this journey is amazing. This is why I love it.
How is technology enabling the development of products that better meet customers' needs?
Technology is the greatest enabler in developing products that better meet customers’ needs. With so much product advancement, we can create solutions ideally suited to end users.
At Pattern, we differentiate our offering using advanced technology, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, parametric capabilities and application programming interfaces (APIs). These enable personalisation, real-time pricing and claims-free products with immediate compensation – precisely what today’s consumers are looking for.
Technology helps us ensure our products are simple, transparent and easy to understand, as well as enabling us to offer a streamlined, straightforward claims process. We balance providing a convenient, low-touch purchasing process for our customers while ensuring that legal and regulatory requirements are met.
Technology helps us ensure our products are simple, transparent and easy to understand, as well as enabling us to offer a streamlined, straightforward claims process
Technology is an enabler for creating new products and services. I can give you an example of how in Pattern, with our embedded insurance solution, use technology to revolutionise the way people consume insurance products that deal with specific concerns and provide a fantastic customer experience.
First, our offerings are embedded in online business customer journeys. Using our platform and real-time APIs, we can identify what the customer is buying and offer the most relevant protection. Using machine learning capabilities, we can assess the risk of the insurance product in real time and identify the best insurance offering for the consumer while satisfying all regulatory requirements and online business needs.
Technology also helps us improve the customer experience of insurance products. With a set of products known in the insurance world as parametric, we can provide products where there is no need to file a claim when something bad happens to the consumer. An example of such a product is a rain guarantee: three days before you go on vacation; our platform will detect if the weather forecast is bad and send the consumer an SMS that they can cancel and get their money back directly to their credit card. These kinds of products are super simple, transparent, fair and with no hassle pay to the consumer.
How do you think the world of embedded insurance products will continue to change over the coming 12 months?
Embedded insurance has been a hot topic for a while, but we’ll see embedded evolve in the coming years. It has the potential to transform the way we do things completely.
One of the key elements of embedded insurance is the high level of personalisation for the consumer. It moves away from the existing prescriptive products offered at point-of-sale to bespoke insurance products that meet the customer’s needs.
Alongside this, a big trend in the wider insurance industry is that protection products are becoming about real-time experiences rather than simply about assets. This will help embedded insurance products evolve into highly tailored insurance policies delivered in real time, benefiting the customer and ensuring profitability for all parties.
What does Pattern Insurance look for in a partner?
The market where we are most active is around travel, leisure and events. Consumer concerns around having to cancel, trip interruption, or other unexpected events, can affect how they enjoy the vacation/activity.
We are looking for partners that share our values. We want to make sure consumers get fair and relevant insurance products with a great customer experience.
We are very good at helping partners that either have an insurance solution embedded – but are not happy with a one-size-fits-all that lacks personalisation – and new players looking to add insurance. Being a managing general agent, we can enable our partners to sell insurance in a fully compliant way in Europe, the UK and the US.
How has the merger between Setoo and Pattern gone? Has it been a smooth integration process?
I founded Setoo with Eyal Gluska in 2017 to build an embedded insurance company for travel, leisure and events in the European Union (EU) and UK – with a solid investment in parametric insurance to provide unique and great products. In 2020, we came across Pattern Insurance from Silicon Valley – founded by two super strong founders (including Meitav Harpaz, who is our CEO). We realised that Pattern is trying to do in the US what we are trying to do in EU/UK. We started discussions with this strong team who shares our values and can provide us an amazing push in the US.
So we merged, and I must say the merger was very successful, and today, we barely even remember that we were two separate companies.
Regulation is probably the main hurdle to innovation for insurtechs. How have you approached the challenges of regulatory compliance in different regions?
Insurance is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the world, so navigating the complex, ever-changing regulations requires a team with extensive knowledge and experience of how the sector works.
While regulatory compliance can be troublesome for online businesses, we have prioritised ensuring our products adhere to the regulations. We’ve found that as long as you can show you are committed to doing the right thing, the regulators are always happy to work with you to ensure your products are compliant.
What are traditional insurers still getting wrong about their technological offering? Do you think that legacy systems are holding some insurers back?
Like insurance companies, we understand that insurance needs to be specific, fair, and with a much better customer experience. The problem is that traditional insurers base their capabilities on more human-driven legacy systems, which means that they can’t provide the agility and personalisation that is so needed, thus ending up with one-size-fits-all systems and products that don’t always meet the needs of customers.
This is not because bad people are working in insurance companies – it is just hard to change the direction of a ship that has been doing the same things for the last few decades.
What is unique about the travel insurance sector that makes you passionate about it?
Well, everybody loves travelling. Travelling and going on a relaxing vacation is super important for us. It makes us more relaxed with a break from our everyday life and helps us open up to new things. However – travel today is associated with a wide variety of stresses. We want to help consumers have great experiences, reduce concerns, and at the same time, if something bad happens, help them get the best solution.