The Isle of Man’s insurtech accelerator programme aims ’to protect and sustain’ insurance on the island, says head of insurance and pensions

Insurtechs play a key role ”to protect and sustain” the Isle of Man’s insurance sector because they provide ”access to the best technology” that puts ”the customer and broker first”, according to Simon Pickering, head of insurance and pensions at the Isle of Man’s Department of Enterprise in Douglas.

Pickering certainly knows his stuff when it comes to the island’s insurance market - he has been working in the insurance industry since the early 90s after making a career switch from the banking sector.

Since November 2017, he has been well established at Finance Isle of Man - the government agency responsible for the island’s financial and professional services sectors. As part of his remit, he oversees Insurtech Isle of Man Finance Accelerator – this is an insurtech accelerator backed by the island’s government, regulator and insurance professionals. 

In spring 2020, Insurtech Isle of Man teamed up with F10 - a global innovation system for fintechs and insurtechs - and secured enough funding to launch the first Isle of Man Insurtech Accelerator Program.

The initial cohort of the four-month programme, which provides access to support, mentoring and collaboration opportunities, got underway in September 2022. The cohort concluded in January 2023, culminating in a conference (26 January 2023).

Unlike the Lloyd’s Lab accelerator programme, which incubates startups catering to general insurance (GI), the Isle of Man’s scheme includes both GI and life insurance startups. Two of the seven participants in its first cohort are based in the UK – Kasko and Spixii.

Speaking exclusively to Insurance Times at January’s conference, Pickering says: “Insurance is [the Isle of Man’s] biggest sector and we need to protect and sustain it going forward by making sure those businesses have access to the best technology in the world to help them put the customer and broker first.”

Insurance represents 22% of the Isle of Man’s gross domestic product, Pickering explains, with around 2,000 people currently being employed by the sector.

He continues: “All our insurance companies’ distribution models are fairly similar – they use broker networks and financial [advisors to] promote their products and provide the business. So, they need to provide excellent service to those brokers otherwise they [will] turn off the tap and go do something else.”

Pickering adds that this “excellent service” includes being able to provide customers with information quickly - something technology and insurtechs can definitely enable.

Fast growing sector

For Pickering, a key ambition of the Isle of Man Insurtech Accelerator Program is to see its cohort participants setting up shop successfully on the Isle of Man to provide propositions to the island’s insurance companies.

He feels this goal is already coming to fruition - the island’s financial regulator, the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority, has reportedly shown an interest in the cohort members, while two of the participating firms are currently undertaking a joint venture.

Pickering deems insurance and financial services an “extremely fast growing sector in terms of demand for insurtechs”.

He continues: “It’s been on an upward curve, mainly driven by investment from big insurers.

”In the last 12 months, that investment level has slowed down a little bit because of the global economic crisis, cost of living and [the] war between Russia and Ukraine. [But] hopefully it’s a short blip.”

Pickering believes that if insurtechs want to secure investment, they must add value via products that can be easily integrated with insurance firms’ existing systems.