ThingCo is a new insurtech company, focusing on developing Next Generation Telematics utilising ADAS, Intelligent voice and AI
1. How did you get to where you are today?
I was always good at Maths. Born in Walthamstow, East London and educated at the local Comprehensive, I learnt from a young age that hard work and ambition was the way you get on in life.
I was the first person to go to University from my school and joined Pearl Assurance as a trainee Actuary in 1979.
The world was very different then. In 1980 I moved to the Motor Department. I loved it. Thirteen years later after a stint in Consulting too, I co-founded EMB the highly successful actuarial consulting firm now part of Willis Towers Watson.
EMB become a world-wide firm and it was a very enjoyable part of my life. In 2009, I left my own firm to set up insurethebox, the specialist telematics only insurer. This was a real challenge. After everyone told me it would never work and 800,000 sold policies later I have now moved on to ThingCo. This is my new company whose aim now is to take telematics to the next level and carry on with unfinished business. We have some great ideas and I’m still excited as ever.
2. What’s the biggest challenge facing your sector of the industry?
The biggest challenge for motor insurers is how to navigate the impact of the technology of autonomous and connected cars on risk, distribution, data ownership and customer interaction. I think insurers are not facing up to this threat adequately and are not preparing themselves fully.
3. How are you and your business dealing with this?
I’ve set up ThingCo precisely for this reason. It is important that certain ingredients are learnt. Things such a telematics, camera and sensor data, ADAS, and intelligent Voice. All these things will be in cars over the next five to ten years and motor manufacturers will control them. Hence the threat to insurers if they do not learn how to use this information for their own purposes. Who will the OEMs partner with?; those insurers who understand what to do with this data or those that don’t?
4. Out of your business achievements what are you most proud of and why?
From an actuarial point of view, my influence on pricing personal lines around the world using GLM’s (generalised linear models). This has made a massive difference to data analysis during the 90’s right up to recent times. Machine learning is now more vogue but it has served the industry well.
From a telematics point of view, proving it works and how the real time data can be used to save lives which it undoubtedly does.
5. What advice would you give to anyone starting out in the industry.
Insurance is the best industry to be in. It changes continuously. I would say to anyone; ‘look around, see who the movers and shakers are and stay on their tails!” Find the people who are always looking at tomorrow.
6. If you could change anything what would you do to make the insurance industry “Better tomorrow”
I would have a complete review of regulation. I think this is now gone out of proportion and is a real barrier to innovation and ironically is giving consumers less freedom of choice. The UK has the best insurance market in the world and consumers have the best deals and levels of service. Don’t destroy this! Take a good look at the markets in the US, Europe and Far East. Don’t let the UK sit in the same box!
7. What’s your top tip for being productive?
I believe in healthy body healthy mind. Finding time to keep fit means you can take more stress and have more energy. I’m 60 now but still feel like a spring chicken!
8. What gadget can’t you live without?
There are two; my iPhone, yes boring and my running shoes. I run every day.
9. Talent or Perseverance?
It’s both, you won’t succeed with only one.
10. What do you do to switch off or escape from work?
I love work so this is never something to escape from. You get frustrated sometimes. But I go running. I’m a bit like Forrest Gump I keep running until I’ve got things out my system!