The Changing Shape of Digital Insurance

How the insurance world is being transformed: nine hypotheses for orientation yesterday, today and tomorrow

  • B2B instead of B2C: InsurTech companies in Germany are changing course, only 30 percent of the first B2C InsurTechs are still operating unchanged; the share of B2B providers has doubled from 28 to 55 percent
  • Product portfolios are becoming broader and more complex: 40 providers have launched nearly 90 products in over 20 categories; 2018 was a record year with 25 product launches
  • Established insurers focus on advisory services and digital customer interaction; race to catch up in digital product availability too – the 25 biggest insurers offer more than 70 percent of property and casualty products digitally
  • Big Tech companies are both partners and competitors – but with varying degrees of threat potential
  • Platform economy will reorder the insurance market; insurers face the task of defining their own role

The Sparkassen Innovation Hub, the Berlin-based id-fabrik and the strategy and management consultancy zeb, which focuses on the European financial industry, have published a new study on the state of the InsurTech market in Germany. In particular, the authors look at the players in the digital insurance environment: from InsurTech startups and established insurers, through Big Tech companies to the platform providers of the future, they provide up-to-date material for discussion based on nine hypotheses as well as information on how the insurance world is being transformed. The interactive study, which is supplemented by analyses, individual case studies and external expert opinions, examines the key developments of the past ten years and is published as part of today’s “All Digital” theme day of the Symbioticon, a hackathon and tech festival organized by the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe.

According to the study, neo-insurers, despite their new service offers and popularity, have not yet led to actual shifts of power in the German insurance market. B2B-oriented InsurTech companies are generally more successful as partners and service providers for insurers, and “fast following” has become established as a corporate strategy for the latter. Big Tech companies and new platforms offer the potential to shake up the industry in insurance too. Established insurers and InsurTech companies alike face the challenge of defining their role within ecosystems: for example as the central platform provider or as product or technology suppliers.

If insurers do not succeed in developing their own platforms with high added value for customers, they will be pushed back into the role of pure product providers.

Readers can view the study at (available in German only).


Yesterday: shift to B2B offers, product range becoming broader and more complex

Two thirds of the InsurTech startups launched between 2010 and 2016 focused their services on the B2C sector. By now, however, the authors of the study see a clear shift: only 30 percent of the first B2C InsurTechs are still operating unchanged today. At the same time, the share of B2B providers has doubled from 28 to 55 percent. “The first InsurTech startups largely failed to monetize their new service offerings to end customers. B2B-oriented startups, on the other hand, were able to establish themselves as pioneers. They scale technologies to bring processes into the digital present. In doing so, they act as partners and service providers for established insurers,” says Horst Kleinlein, Senior Partner at zeb. The InsurTech companies’ product portfolio is also becoming broader and more sophisticated: 40 providers now offer 90 products in over 20 product categories, including more complex segments such as commercial insurance or health and old-age provision.

Today: “fast following” as a corporate strategy of established insurers

One thing is clear: established insurers are catching up, taking countermeasures with their own digital company spin-offs and investing in particular in improving advisory services and expanding digital customer interaction. The gap is also closing in terms of digital product availability: the 25 largest insurers now offer more than 70 percent of their major property and casualty products digitally. “Fast following has become established as a corporate strategy for insurers and the initial rush has subsided. What today looks like the all-clear for the established providers can, however, also be described as the calm before the storm,” adds Thomas Kempf, Managing Director of id-fabrik. “Not only the InsurTech companies, but also the successful fast followers are competitors here,” adds Kempf.

Tomorrow: Big Tech companies as partners and competitors, platforms lead to reordering

A more forceful entry of Big Tech companies into the insurance sector as well as the trend towards a platform economy have the clear potential to shake up the industry. Everything that can be digitalized will be digitalized. “Companies that manage to reduce the complexity of products and end customer interaction will prevail on digital channels. What applies to savings banks and other banks also applies to insurers: The Big Tech companies’ sword of Damocles is hovering ever closer,” says Jens Rieken, Head of the Sparkassen Innovation Hub. However, the threat potential is not the same with all of them: while Microsoft and Facebook are more likely to act as partners, both Amazon and Google could play a dominant intermediary role in the future.

In addition, platforms will reorder the industries. Insurers are therefore faced with the task of defining their own role within ecosystems. They must decide whether they want to act as a central platform provider or as a product or technology supplier. “If the established insurers do not succeed in designing platforms with high added value for customers and high interaction rates, they will be pushed back into the role of pure product providers. Interfacing and cross-sectoral cooperation are crucial,” Rieken concludes.

About the study

The Sparkassen Innovation Hub, think tank and central contact point for FinTech companies within the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe, and the Berlin-based id-fabrik, think tank of public insurers, have been jointly designing digital solutions for insurance sales since April 2020. Together with zeb, which specializes in consulting for European banks, savings banks and insurers, the authors examined the changes in the insurance market over the last ten years (2010–2020), more than 50 InsurTech startups and the current and future role of Big Tech companies and new platform providers.

For further information or questions:

Press contact
Christoph Weferling | redRobin. Strategic Public Relations
Virchowstraße 65b, In der alten Fassfabrik, 22767 Hamburg
Phone +49 40 692 123-24


About Sparkassen Innovation Hub

The Sparkassen Innovation Hub is the innovation lab of the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe and thus the think tank that deals with consumers, technological innovations and digital banking. It was launched at the beginning of 2017 as a joint initiative of the savings banks, the DSGV, DSV, Finanz Informatik and Star Finanz. The Hub is a division of Star Finanz, Germany’s leading provider of online and mobile banking solutions. Currently, three interdisciplinary teams are working together in agile project structures. In each case, the following specialist competencies are represented: product owner, business development, user experience, design as well as front-end and back-end developers. A total of 27 employees currently work on site in Hamburg.

About id-fabrik

id-fabrik was founded in August 2019 by the Versicherungskammer, SV SparkassenVersicherung, Provinzial NordWest and Provinzial Rheinland in order to bundle innovative forces and synergies for customers. It acts as the innovation engine for the digital future of public insurers in customer care and sales partner support. id-fabrik designs and develops digital solutions via subsidiaries and development partners and offers them as services for public insurers and the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe to use.

About zeb

As a leading strategy and management consultancy, zeb has been offering transformation expertise along the entire value chain in the financial services sector in Europe since 1992. In Germany, we operate offices in Frankfurt, Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Münster (HQ). Our international locations are in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Kiev, London, Luxembourg, Milan, Moscow, Oslo, Stockholm, Vienna, Warsaw and Zurich. Our clients include European large-cap and private banks, regional banks, insurers as well as all kinds of financial intermediaries. Several times already, our company has been classed and acknowledged as “best consultancy” for the financial sector in industry rankings.

zeb Contact

Franz-Josef Reuter
Head of Public & International Affairs
Phone +49 251 97128 347


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