InsurTech: Where’s the Beef?

New SMA Blog by Mark Breading, Partner, Strategy Meets Action

Boston, MA (Jan. 3, 2017) – In 1984, Wendy’s introduced a new ad campaign with the tag line “Where’s the Beef?” The campaign was so successful that the phrase “Where’s the Beef” made it into the popular vernacular as a way to question whether there was any substance or any tangible result from an activity. The InsurTech movement is enjoying enormous success in terms of new startups, venture capital, partnerships, and pilot projects. But it is fair at this stage to ask, Where’s the Beef?

Let me be clear that this is not a putdown or dismissal of InsurTech. In fact, I am somewhat of a cheerleader for the movement. There is a great deal of innovation generated by InsurTech, in the form of new business models, new products, new distribution platforms, new ways to revolutionize the customer experience, and many new options for leveraging emerging technologies. Insurers, venture capitalists, and others are enthusiastic about the potential of InsurTech to transform the insurance industry.

And 2017 was a banner year for InsurTech, with the number of startups around the world roughly doubling to over 1300 (by SMA’s accounting), a raft of insurers setting up venture arms and allocating billions to invest, and new partnerships and projects being announced daily.

However, if InsurTech is to truly transform insurance, it must ultimately affect the key financial metrics of the industry. Premium volumes and policy counts should rise. Expense and loss ratios should decrease. Life/annuity companies should finally gain traction in the middle market. Overall industry profitability should increase. There are individual projects at specific insurers where InsurTech partnerships have begun to move the needle. There are also some individual InsurTech companies that have been quite successful, securing large investments, multiple insurance customers, and positive results. But in the context of the roughly $5 trillion USD global insurance industry, InsurTech has not perceptibly changed any metrics.

What is likely to happen in 2018, and beyond? Click here to read the full blog.

About SMA

Exclusively serving the insurance industry, Strategy Meets Action (SMA) is an advisory services firm offering retainers, research, consulting, events, and innovation offerings to both insurance companies and solution providers. Learn more about SMA at

SOURCE: Strategy Meets Action (SMA)

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