Winner Innovation Prize dreams of creating new market
Text: Irene Okkerman, Irenergy, translation: Neerlandse
On april 19, 2017, Neerlandse won the NVGA AM Innovation Prize for their flood model. The jury praised Neerlandse on its perseverance in creating an insurance solution for a risk that had previously seemed uninsurable. The jury also said the innovation was of great importance for the market. “It offers a solution for realistic problems in which the initiators have an eye for working in an efficient and contemporary manner”. The prize winner's high level of ambition shows that the jury hit the nail on the head.
“It offers a solution for realistic problems in which the initiators have an eye for working in an efficient and contemporary manner”
Creating new markets
The flood model is a web-enabled insurance solution which has made flood risks insurable on an individual basis and for a reasonable price. Creating this model however, was difficult. School-friends Kosta Keramopolous (39) and Rogier van der Kooy Versteeg (38), had to walk a long and bumby road as Neerlandse. They were met by resistance from the the domestic market who insisted on a collective, compulsory insurance. It was on the other side of the North Sea where they eventually managed to convince Lloyd’s that the Netherlands is no bathtub. Their time and effort was rewarded when they became a Lloyd’s approved coverholder, which gave them the ability to guarantee a one-hundred percent coverage for the flood risk. They first entered the Dutch market with this coverage in 2013. Though this was not an immediate success, the time was ripe in 2016 and the model has been refined to using addresses instead of postal code areas. This way the premium can be calculated accurately for every household.
Insuring flood risks is just one of Neerlandse’s focus areas
Insuring flood risks is just one of Neerlandse’s focus areas. Other sections, which have since been placed with Neerlandse Group, include the development and operation of insurance systems (Neerlandse Cloud Systems) and insurance services for the intermediary such as collection services (Neerlandse Insurance Services). Additionally, Neerlandse is active in the ‘car’ sector, in which ‘ikRijverzekerd’ is an individual MGA within the group. The company, which, by now, consists of 16 employees, is located in the Videolab a location of the old Philips factory which houses many start-ups.
Kosta Keramopolous starts by saying: “What we do sounds very diverse, but what we are really doing is connecting the old to the new world. After my university education in Social-Sciences Informatics I worked for the cooperation facility with the Dutch Police and later as a managing consultant with Berenschot. Within these roles I focused on the question how an ICT-investment can bring about the biggest possible added value”.
The insurance brain within the operation is Rogier van der Kooy Versteeg. He started working in insurance immediately after secondary school and, along with its then partner, managed to bring De Laat Insurances to its full potential. He got all the necessary insurance certificates and was active as Register Pension Advisor. From a very early stage, he was aware of the added benefit of a new business model and a contemporary revenue model.
By combining their knowledge and experience they gave meaning to something they both aspired to: entrepreneurship. “As Neerlandse we are now using ‘high-end technology’ on the basis of licenses, and we are using this to build systems with other developers. It is our mindset to see opportunities here and the flood model emerged from this. We had access to very precise flood data and every possible flood scenario imaginable. The current model was created by combining different systems. ‘Business development’ is what we do”.
Analyzing different portfolios of several MGA’s on risk and premium, the results are often highly surprising for these companies
Increase in numbers
Van der Kooy Versteeg: “Geerts Financial Services in Oosterhout, an established office with a strong regional function, was the first office to offer the flood model to consumers. Klap and DAK followed and since then we have created a good national network. The Consumer Association’s endorsement of the flood model in 2016 allowed everything to start moving rapidly”.
Neerlandse is currently analyzing different portfolios of several MGA’s on risk and premium. Keramopoulos says the results are often highly surprising for these companies: “yes, there is a realistic risk, and yes, it is insurable for a perfectly reasonable premium. The fact that a coverage for flood risk is now available, means that an advisor really should take this up in his advice based on his duty of care. And of course, winning the NVGA AM Innovation Prize gave us a great boost!”.
Holding on to independence
Independence is a valuable thing for the Neerlandse-partners. 83.9% of shares are in their hands, the remaining shares are divided among an external investor and the companies Geerts and Klap.
Keramopoulos: “We just happened to end up in the coverholder business. We learnt the hard way that profit is key in retaining independence. We do this by focusing on three challenges: the dwindling capacity in the market, the current automation which is giving every coverholder a headache (and enormous bills), and creating excellent service processes for the client. If you are able to solve these issues as an MGA, you can regain your independence and collect underwriter profit. This is important as the MGA market is not independent at the moment. This isn’t true for the big players of course, but we cannot say the same for any party that does not belong to the top ten. Our advice: look beyond the Netherlands, look beyond the boundaries of the current systems and look beyond the current understandings of ‘customer interest. To us, customer interest is nothing more than creating revenue with the client and reaping the rewards together. Talking about risks instead of premium. Of course, there are MGA’s with poor underwriting results, but, in the case of car, we make a profit – a little more even – as the average loss that is usually made. This is the case because we stepped outside of the box”.
Keramopolous clarifies this with an example. “We created our own tender for glass for ikRijverzekerd, instead of acquiring glass through Glasgarant. This step by itself allowed us to save a third on windows and increase customer satisfaction. There are numerous examples like this”.
We learnt the hard way that profit is key in retaining independence
“It’s all related to being creative”, Keramopolous says of the added benefit of Neerlandse. “And making combinations. Everything exists already, the trick lies in combining these things. We are lucky to be a small organization, ‘lean and mean’, and we’re not afraid to look ahead. Additionally, we gathering underwriters for coverage for MGA’s in the Netherlands on Lloyd’s market and are concerned with profitability instead of investment returns. As we said, we are cooperating in creating a team of data specialists and platform builders. Once the car concept – which will be based in Rotterdam - is up and running, we want to start extending this to other MGA’s. We work on the basis of ‘agile’ and scrum, which means all disciplines are represented within the team. There is strength in taking small steps in reaching a goal and being able to implement this fast”.
The men don’t need long to answer the question where they see Neerlandse in five years. “We hope to see real results in the three areas mentioned, so we can offer our services to an important share of the MGA market. To us, this will only be a success if our clients can prove their independence in the market, and if they are no longer dependent on a select number of carriers. If they themselves can prove their added value to the customer, which translates to added value for carriers, meaning underwriting profit!”
Text: Irene Okkerman, Irenergy, translation: Neerlandse