How actuaries can carry insurtech forward

In the latest Actuaries Institute podcast, Angat Sandhu virtually interviews Annette King, Chair and Co-founder of Galileo Platforms, to discuss the formation and purpose of Galileo, her advice to those considering establishing an insurtech startup, and the important role actuaries will play in the development of the insurtech space into the future.

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Annette, who is also the current Vice President of the Actuaries Institute and is a Director of Swiss Re and FNZ, established Galileo Platforms alongside co-founder Mark Wales in Hong Kong in 2016.

“We really just saw the opportunity, particularly in Asia, for hundreds of millions of people who were uninsured, who basically didn’t have access to insurance. And we felt that digital engagement would be the right way to help people who need insurance, gain access to that,” Annette explains.

As a ‘B2B company’, Galileo Platforms works behind the scenes for larger insurers to help deliver general insurance, life insurance and health insurance products for consumers using a unique online experience.

“So, we used the most modern technology to enable a much more digital experience, real time, and also to connect the whole ecosystem, the whole value chain, for the benefit of the client. So, that’s what Galileo does,” Annette explains.

From a small team, Galileo Platforms has expanded to a workforce of nine working across four continents as technology developers and business analysts. Annette is the only member of the team based in Australia, with the majority of the team based in Hong Kong.

Annette King

When it comes to establishing a fresh insurtech startup, Annette stresses that being flexible and resilient is key, while also drawing on a mentor to support the journey.

“On a personal level, seeking out a mentor is also very helpful because you’ve got to be ultra-resilient. There are a lot of knockbacks, delays and challenges as well as the amazing outcomes. You’ve got to keep up your energy and keep focused. And having a mentor I think, or a coach, or just a friend to help keep spurring you on in the dim days, is helpful,” Annette says.

Although being the only actuary in the Galileo team, Annette believes that actuarial training provides the profession with a strong grasp of the operations of an insurtech, opening the door for actuaries to get involved and thrive in the insurtech space.

“We (actuaries) seem to understand the total picture that enables us to also see where the opportunities are for improvement. It could be client, it could be revenue, it could be cost savings or efficiency. It’s effectively the actuarial control cycle, but it’s used in innovation. And when you’re using speedy tech, you can do that cycle in a week as opposed to months or years.

“So, I think the actuaries have got a really good skillset, grounding and understand where the opportunities are for improvement. And we can understand the sustainability, the finances, and that the customer is really important. And I think there are lots of opportunities for more actuaries to get involved in insurtech.”

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