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Global Insurance Accelerator Adds New Insurer Investors

Staff Writer | October 05, 2016

The Global Insurance Accelerator (GIA), a business accelerator focused on developing and growing innovative, insurance-centric startups, announces two additional insurance companies will join the eight insurers already invested in the GIA program.

EMC Insurance Companies, of Des Moines, Iowa, and Markel Corporation, of Richmond, Va., have confirmed annual investments in the GIA, which help fund a seed investment in insurance technology startups accepted into the GIA program going forward. As investors, EMC and Markel also commit staff and company expertise to help mentor startups through the critical early stages of business growth, potential launch situations, recruiting and onboarding initial customers, and seeking additional funding.

“As an insurance carrier, it is to our benefit to invest in the Global Insurance Accelerator,” says Bruce G. Kelley, president and CEO of EMC. “The GIA is fostering innovation and building solutions to support the insurance industry. EMC was founded more than 100 years ago as a solution for workers’ compensation coverage in Iowa, and now we are investing in solving key contemporary issues in our industry such as data sharing, security and risk management.”

Originally modeled after other horizontal technology accelerators which provide seed funding and business assistance to startups in exchange for equity, the GIA is focused solely on the insurance industry. Now in its third year, the GIA is backed by insurance company investors from across the U.S., but is based in Des Moines, Iowa, which is home to more than 80 insurance companies and tens of thousands of insurance professionals. More than 200 insurance companies are based in the state of Iowa.

The insurtech startups selected to participate in the GIA’s annual “cohort” are invited to Des Moines for a 100-day program, which provides hands-on business support from program mentors, and exposure to insurance company professionals, industry influencers and potential additional investors as well. During the program, members of the GIA cohort are formally assessed and provided consulting guidance to improve, company organization and management team structure, industry problems solved by products/services offered, product specifications (features and functionality), marketing, sales and distribution, general business model, financial model, early plan implementation, business legalities and organizational support models. The program culminates each year in April by providing startups the opportunity to pitch live onstage at the Global Insurance Symposium.

“This is not a typical accelerator,” says Jeff Russell, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Iowa and the GIA board chair. “Startups participating in our program are able to complete customer discovery in shorter cycles than they could on their own, which enables them to grow their revenue faster. The GIA is a strategic partner in helping them achieve success.”

The GIA investors, now including EMC and Markel, not only have an opportunity to acquire a financial stake in some of the top insurtech startups in the country, but also participate as mentors and engage in startups’ early business and product evolution. As a part of the GIA, insurer investors are exposed to the newest industry-specific technology trends ahead of competitors, and, are therefore better able to evaluate future engagement with, and potential investment in, emerging technologies.

“We are excited to build relationships with some of the most exciting insurtech startups entering the industry,” says Trent Cooksley, Markel Corporation director of strategy and marketing. “Not only will we offer direct mentoring as they go through and graduate from the GIA program, but we also have a vested interest in the longer-term success of companies that may truly innovate how we all do business. Markel can play a valuable role in that innovation.”

Markel and EMC join the GIA’s existing investor group, which includes American Equity Investment Life Holding Company, Delta Dental Plans Association, Farm Bureau Financial Services, Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance of Iowa, Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company, IMT Insurance Company, Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company, and Principal Financial Group.

“The addition of EMC gives us another strong partner in Des Moines,” Russell said. “And, the addition of Markel shows that the benefits of being an investor are applicable to insurance companies anywhere in the United States. Together, they enable us to continue expanding the GIA offerings through our cohorts and mentoring program.”

The GIA is now accepting applications for its third cohort, happening mid-January through April 2017. Startups can apply at www.globalinsuranceaccelerator.com. The application deadline is Nov. 7.


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