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Insurtech deals up, funding down amid pandemic: Willis

By Matthew Lerner

More insurtech deals were completed in the first quarter, compared with the year-earlier period, but overall funding declined 54% to $912 million amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to Willis Towers Watson’s Quarterly InsurTech Briefing released Monday.

The 96 deals completed in the first quarter marked a 10% gain from a year earlier, with the decline in overall funding attributed, in part, to fewer large deals taking place.

First-quarter 2020 saw no “unicorn” funding rounds of $1 billion or more and only one “mega-round” the $100 million Series D issue by PolicyGenius, the report said.

Insurtechs focused on property/casualty insurance increased their share of total funding to 83%, the largest gap with life and health funding since the third quarter of 2016, the report said. Start-ups with a focus on policy distribution raised the largest rounds in this year’s first quarter.

Of the 96 transactions this quarter, 75% involved property/casualty-focused insurtechs, the report said.

The United States accounted for 57% of the first-quarter deals, the United Kingdom 11%, Canada 6%, and China 5%, the report said.

The report acknowledged the COVID-19 outbreak likely hurt investment activity, but said it is “too early to tell what long-term impact COVID-19 might have on the global InsurTech community. It would be very easy to suggest that this is the beginning of the downward slope.”

“It is clear that COVID-19 has had a material impact on later-stage investments, and insurers and reinsurers are holding back,” Andrew Johnston, global head of InsurTech at Willis Re, said in a statement with the report. “Despite the very large percentage drop this quarter when compared with the last, we are still seeing a huge amount of activity in early-stage funding rounds, across a very large number of deals.”

More insurance and risk management news on the coronavirus crisis here.

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