’There’s lots of noise around technology, but it all comes back to whether you are able to offer customers something that they perceive as giving real value,’ says chief executive 

Manchester-based insurtech Ripe Insurance has ambitions to complete more M&A, with a new hire – set to be revealed in the coming months – steering the business’ objectives in this area.

Speaking exclusively to Insurance Times at Biba’s 2024 conference (15 and 16 May 2024) in Manchester, Paul Williams, chief executive of Ripe, says: “We are in dialogue with businesses now – we made another offer in the last week.

”To be clear, we are not a consolidator, but what we do believe in is what we bring to the transaction – our potential to drive strong marketing and grow businesses, coupled with our technology platform.

“We can be flexible because we are nimble. It’s [also] about having discipline and a clear strategy.”

In terms of the M&A opportunities Ripe is interested in, Williams – who has served as chief executive of the business since October 2016 – says the insurtech will be “sticking to its knitting” and the areas it has expertise in.

He continues: “When I talk about sticking to our knitting, for me [this refers] to the idea of hypersegmenting. But do not try and boil the ocean – don’t try and be everything to everyone. Instead, be really good at serving identified customers.

“We [view] the whole world [as] a series of communities. We have always tried to listen to those communities and then design products to meet the challenges they face.”

Ripe Insurance was founded in 1998 – its first product was aimed at individual golfers via a membership club concept. Now it operates across the leisure and lifestyle industries, as well as providing small business insurance.

The insurtech offers a bespoke “build your own product in a few clicks” model, where customers only pay for the cover they need.

In its 2022 financial results, published in September 2023, Ripe revealed a turnover of £27.2m for the 12 months to December 2022 – up £4m from 2021. This indicated revenue growth of 17% year-on-year. 

In this same reporting period, Ripe increased its customer count by 30,000, taking its overall total to 315,000.

’Digitally underserved’

Williams believes “commercial insurance is digitally underserved”, particularly in the niche sectors Ripe operates in.

Many products are bundled, for example. This was “fine in the 80s and 90s when the internet wasn’t around”, Williams explains, but nowadays, ”in the world of digital transacting, you don’t need to do that.”

He continues: “It’s the question you should always ask yourself – what does the customer want? If the answer is to be able to choose the things they want, have them covered and pay for it – you then need find the technology solution.

“There’s lots of noise around technology, but it all comes back to whether you are able to offer customers something that they perceive as giving real value. That’s what insurance is really about.” 

Future of insurtech

Speaking on the insurtech sector more broadly, Williams notes that the business model for insurtechs historically has been to grow exponentially “at the cost of not being able to have a plan to turn it into a cash position”.

However, “if you can’t break even, ultimately cash runs out”, Williams says. 

He names inflation and the cost of living crisis as “putting more strain on these highly leveraged models”, which is why some insurtechs have collapsed or pivoted their operations.

He predicts more “unfortunate stories for insurtechs in the next 12 months” due to this trend, but for those firms “that are able to create a sustainable business model”, there will be success.