The insurtech has plans to expand into colder climates, using IoT-based detection device to tackle escape of water claims

Insurtech Ondo, previously known as LeakBot, has had a busy year so far.

Back in March 2022, Ondo became the first UK insurtech to make an Initial Public Offering (IPO), which allows shares from a private company to be sold to the public. 

Then, in early May 2022, the company cemented its presence in the Danish insurance market through a partnership with Copenhagen-based insurance firm Privatsikring.

Now, the business has plans to take its Internet of Things-based escape of water (EoW) sensor to north America.

Speaking exclusively to Insurance Times, Mark Wood, chairman of Ondo, said: “The idea of going public was to raise enough money to get the business to break-even, so we raised additional capital at the IPO. [This enabled] us to fund the [manufacture of] devices, implement those with various insurers and move to the point where the company is in profit.

“The priority for us is to work to break-even and then go through break-even and expand the market. So, for the next couple of years as a minimum, we will do more of what we are doing – more of the same.” 

Ondo’s 2022 business plan consists of two main components.

Firstly, is the planned growth into north America. Wood says this has already kicked off with the hire of a sales manager in the region in April 2022. The new starter is responsible for developing relationships with key insurers in the territory.

In addition, the insurtech wants to build on existing contracts it has with global insurance group Mapfre and private American auto insurance company The Government Employees Insurance Company (Geico).

Ondo also has several pilot schemes currently running with insurers, Wood adds, to assess the effectiveness of its EoW detection device in pinpointing domestic leaks. The pilot schemes will additionally help to produce estimates around early detection cost savings for EoW claims.

Although unable to reveal the insurer partners participating in the pilot schemes at the moment, Wood says the majority of Ondo’s work is “primarily in the UK and Scandinavia – these are the two markets that we are focusing on, in addition to north America”. 

Why Scandinavia and UK?

Scandinavia and Denmark has been an important focal point for Ondo because of opportunities around market penetration, Wood notes.

Because many EoW claims can be caused by frozen water, the insurtech’s IoT device could prove to be more attractive in colder climates, where the potential for frozen water to cause household damage is much greater.

Once well established in Scandinavia, Wood wants Ondo to springboard into similar regions.

He says: ”Once we are satisfied that we have penetrated the Scandinavian market to the greatest extent possible, Germany, Canada and Japan will become a priority – we will evolve out into those northern hemisphere, cooler climate markets.” 

For Wood, EoW is the largest claims category among household claims, making it the obvious place to start when looking to minimise claims costs.

The idea for the technology behind Ondo, meanwhile, came from observing condensation on a pipe to a kitchen tap - this was caused from the water in the tap being cooler than the surrounding air temperature.

“When water is flowing, it is a slightly different temperature to the ambient one. Therefore, if you can measure that difference, you could tell whether water was continually flowing or not,” Wood explains.

Monitoring these temperature changes using its IoT device enables Ondo to identify water pipe leaks.

Although Ondo’s product was ”initially developed as an element of a plumbing service,” Wood says the company quickly ”realised that the real value would be to insurers as they have to pay the cost of EoW claims”.

The other major benefit of Ondo, according to Wood, is preventing water wastage.

Mark Wood

Wood, chairman of Ondo, started his career as an accountant. Through auditing insurance companies, he built up knowledge of the insurance market, which subsequently saw him take on key leadership roles such as chief executive of Axa UK in the nineties and chief executive of Prudential in the early 2000s.

Mark Wood_Ondo

In 2006, he raised £500m in private equity to create a new insurance company called Paternoster, which was sold to Goldman Sachs in 2010. He also bought the RAC breakdown service from Aviva with private equity firm Carlyle Group in 2011.

Wood has spent the last 10 to 15 years working in private equity, investing in firms such as Ondo. Typically, he becomes the chairman and looks to builds the business. He currently chairs six private equity-owned businesses.