Evari is a cloud-based insurance platform founded in Australia that empowers insurers to launch and manage insurance products easily. Daniel Fogarty, CEO of Evari shares his views of the insurtech scene in Australia and UK as compared to other parts of APAC as an industry leader with over three decades of experience.Please share with us the story behind Evari and your background
I was the CEO for Zurich Insurance for Australia and New Zealand and before that at Suncorp and Westpac. So I come from an incumbent background and understand the challenges that insurers face. During my time at Zurich and before, I would regularly meet with clients and was always surprised how many people did not have the right insurance for themselves. While there are a lot of people that have insurance, not everyone has the right insurance. I noticed the gap and the technology challenges that the industry was facing and hence when I left Zurich, I founded Evari with two other co-founders. At Evari, we believe that insurance should be easy to buy, easy to manage and flexible to changing needs, and this will enable people to get the right insurance. What we have done is built an insurance SaaS solution that is a full end to end process for insurers, insurance brokers and MGAs. The main part of our business is licensing our SaaS solution to insurers across the world and we also use our own solution to sell insurance to small businesses in Australia. That enables us to make sure the platform works very well, and also to continue to understand and meet our customers’ needs.
What are some of the key successes and challenges Evari faced since it started?
We have been kicking goals so far. Our success is driven by people. I am very fortunate to have two great co-founders, and they're both based in the UK while I'm based in Australia. We have very supportive investors, great staff and great insurer partners who really want to engage in the whole digital journey. As a result, we are able to expand our business internationally and we're based now in not just the UK and Australia but we've also got clients in Europe, US and we are looking to expand more into Asia as well. The biggest challenge is that start up tech companies have lots of hurdles along the way. We've been managing them well, but there are challenges every day. I would say one of the challenges we face when working with some insurers is that they are not necessarily known for moving quickly, and when you're running a small company, that can be frustrating. I think for an insurtech, it's about continually pushing the pace, whilst also managing your timeframe expectations, and making sure you're really well set up to work with insurers, then you can be successful. We know insurers and insurance well and this has enabled our success.
How are you managing in the current environment, and how do you see the insurtech and insurance world changing post COVID 19?
Firstly, the current environment has only been a bump in the road for us in our own business. As we're a completely digital business, we were able to convert to working from home very quickly. We've always been set up to work remotely, so when lockdown happened in the countries that we were in, we basically picked up our laptops and went home and started working again and we've been able to continue to work very effectively in the current environment. From a leadership point of view, there are six things that I've been thinking about and trying to enact in this current environment: 1. Gratitude. Be thankful for where we are, for the successes we've had, for the support we've received and for the opportunities in front of us. 2. Compassion. There are a lot of people doing it pretty tough. We need to be compassionate about what their situation is. 3. Calm. It is really important as a leader to be calm and pass that calmness on to others. 4. Communicate. Like how we’re doing this interview now, you’re giving us the benefit to communicate. Communication is two ways. I think that it is important to hear what others are doing and tell people how you’re doing. 5. Purpose. Businesses exist for a purpose. I would always say, and especially in challenging economic times, you really need to connect with your company’s purpose and understand why you're doing what you're doing. At Evari, we want everyone in the world to be able to get the right insurance, and we believe that insurance should be easy to buy, easy to manage and flexible to changing needs. So for us in this current environment, we can really connect with that core purpose. 6. Vision. With clarity of purpose, we have envisioned how we get there. This vision and the path forward needs adjustment in the current environment, and we have been regularly talking to our own team about that. Those are the six words I've been trying to lead by in this current environment. What we are seeing in this industry during this period is that insurers are split mainly into two groups. We're seeing some are locked down and reducing the number of projects due to uncertainty and I think that's a crazy response to digital in this new world. But we're also seeing a growing number of other insurers going, “Wow, this is the time that we need to go harder and our customers are demanding digital solutions”. For us at Evari, we have been very busy working with insurers who want to go harder and making sure that we can get them into the digital insurance business.
Evari was founded in Australia, now also based in the UK, with clients in the USA - all developed markets. What do you think of the insurtech scene there as compared to developing countries around APAC? What are some of the similarities and differences you see?
We have been focused on looking to do more work across the APAC region. I think developing markets in APAC has great capacity with the adoption of digital technology and the challenges faced are very different. Firstly, all insurers have legacy systems and this is particularly more challenging in the developed markets where they've had those legacy systems for a longer period of time. But in the developing markets, many customers are still learning about insurance, they're still exploring new digital solutions. I think that is great for insurtechs because they are the ones that can help insurers with launching new digital insurance products quickly. What I see happening in Asia is insurers being much more prepared to try new things because they know the market is changing so rapidly and we see this as an opportunity. Opportunity for insurtechs like us who are in the APAC region to offer our services into the market. Therefore, developing countries in APAC can leverage the best of both worlds, a rapidly growing market and technology tested in developed markets. We are hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and that makes it easy for insurers around the world to work with us. We know that many locations have data restrictions and privacy issues like where the data is hosted, and AWS has processes around that. We're talking to a number of insurers in SEA and we have been part of the Singapore ‘Plug and Play’ program in the first half of 2020. We were in Singapore and introduced to a number of insurers before lockdown. We were planning to travel around the region ourselves meeting with people but right now, we're doing that virtually. The good thing about insurance is that insurance has many similarities across the world and we have already tested our software to work in a number of countries, so we’re confident we can replicate our success outside of developed markets as well.
What are you looking forward to seeing in the future of the insurance ecosystem?
The reason why we’re an insurtech is because we want to see more customers with the right insurance. We firmly believe that we’re able to make insurance easy to buy, easy to manage and flexible to changing needs. We see that customers are demanding more digital experiences and so, in the future of the insurance ecosystem, customers can easily get their own insurance through whatever channel they want, whether bought direct from an insurer or through a trusted brand, a broker or an agent. Coming from an incumbent background, I would say it is important for insurers to learn how to provide flexibility as well. A key feature that our system provides is the ability for insurers to easily manage the insurance they're offering to customers. Just as start-ups react quickly to customers’ needs, incumbents should be able to react quickly to customers’ needs as well. Hence, the flexibility of our SaaS program is important to insurers, and to customers, and through this flexibility, our industry can make sure that more customers have the right insurance.