Ticker’s founder and chief executive hopes to bring connected insurance to a wider market 

Telematics insurtech Ticker has plans to become the next industry unicorn following its series A funding round earlier this year and its partnership with insurtech Abacai, which is led by former Aviva boss Mark Wilson.

Richard King, Ticker’s founder and chief executive, dubs this transition a “soon-icorn”.

In business, a unicorn is a privately held startup company valued at over $1bn (£736m).

King tells Insurance Times: ”I like to think of us as a soon-icorn – soon to be a unicorn. The UK unicorns have a couple of years head start on us, but we are catching up fast.”

The insurtech, which completed its series A funding with EOS Venture Partners, has its series B investment to come. 

For King, series A funding is the hardest to complete because firms must reflect on whether their idea is working or not.

He continues: “The key thing is we are experiencing incredible growth. We set ourselves a goal to achieve underwriting profits within the first three years and we are on target to do that.

“We are moving to underwriting profit next year, which is unheard of in this industry.”

The driver behind insurtechs’ recent “fabulous valuations” and the increasing number of sector unicorns lies in how the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of technology, King explains.

Insurtechs that have become unicorns this year, for example, include TractableZegoBought By Many and Marshmallow.

He says: “The pandemic has highlighted what insurtechs are doing, which is creating new technology and being an enabler. That’s why I feel the insurtechs are really shining through the worst part of the pandemic.”

Because of this, investing in UK insurtechs is a key opportunity, King adds - especially following the trajectory of US-based businesses like Lemonade, which filed for an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in June 2020.

An IPO is a fundraising method used by large firms, where shares from the private company are offered to the public, often institutional investors and retail investors.

“There is a depth and breadth of insurtechs in the UK starting to follow the pattern of the US, King continues.

”The UK unicorns have got this valuation because they have enormous growth potential and they are probably heading towards IPOs in the next couple of years.” 

Continuing growth

Working towards its aim of becoming a unicorn, Ticker teamed up with Abacai in September 2021.

Speaking on the partnership, King says: “The reason why we are doing it is we have enjoyed very good growth.

”We have been live for just over two years. Our current run rate is over £50m in gross written premium (GWP) and that’s been achieved with our first two products - for novice drivers and van drivers.”

The two insurtechs realised they shared a similar outlook on underwriting, innovation and claims and subsequently decided to work together.

Now, King has plans to launch two more insurance products by the end of the year – one for low mileage customers and another for convicted drivers.

He also wants to launch a further three products next year – a proposition for electric vehicles, cover for new UK drivers and insurance policies for drivers aged over 70.

King says: “One day you are 69, the following you are 70 and for many people the cost of their insurance doubles overnight.”

Following the introduction of this new product set, which Abacai will provide capacity for, King predicts Ticker’s ”run rates in that time will double to £100m GWP”.

For insurtechs dealing with motor insurance he says there is “an awful lot of jostling going on in preparing for the regulatory changes at the end of the year”.

When asked about the current challenges for insurtechs, he says: “I think prices are currently too cheap in the market at the moment, and it’s a case of holding your position and looking long-term at your loss ratios as opposed to pure volume and waiting for the market to settle down.”

He predicts that the market will settle down towards the end of the year.

Initially, King created Ticker - which operates a full stack MGA - to bring connected insurance to a wider market. He says: “For too long, [telematics] has remained as a young or novice driver proposition.

”We felt there was an opportunity to create an ecosystem [using] our internal technology, meaning we could take data and use it.”

Digital focus

Richard King, Ticker’s founder and chief executive, recognises that customers want a more digital experience - this is demonstrated by the fact that 95% of the insurtech’s sales are completed online.

Ticker’s app is further evidence of customers’ appetite for digital, with 80% of the company’s renewals being accepted and completed via this medium.

mobile phone (2)

With this in mind, the insurtech is currently experimenting with a “chat only” function, although the option to call the business is still available. The benefit of the chat function, however, is that handlers can usually look at three to four chats at once, compared to a one-to-one phone call.

King continues: “It’s hard to get a high Trustpilot score when you provide connected insurance as you are giving people feedback on how they drive - it’s a very personal thing you are telling them.

“We have put so much emphasis on the customer journey.”