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With the Swipe of an App, Startup Trov Aims to Disrupt Insurance

With the Swipe of an App, Startup Trov Aims to Disrupt Insurance
The way people order food, a car, or a place to stay has been changed by the on-demand economy, which uses smartphone technology to immediately fill consumer needs. Now, offering coverage with the swipe of an app, technology startups are targeting the next business frontier – insurance.
Backed by insurance firm AXA SA, Trov, launched in the United Kingdom on Tuesday, is a San Francisco Bay Area firm that provides smartphone-based on-demand insurance for individual assets, like computers or cameras, for any duration.
"We literally track risk to the second so when you turn something on, it turns it on to the second and then it prices your usage to the second should you want to turn it off," Scott Walchek, Trov's chief executive officer, said in an interview last week.
"It's literally the same swipe right to turn it on, swipe left to turn it off," Scott added.
CommerzVentures GmbH said in a white paper in March that with the advent and the use of new technologies like artificial intelligence, new payment systems, drones and blockchain, the multitrillion-dollar dollar insurance industry is poised to be transformed "beyond recognition".
"Effectively cooperating with startups may be the only way for incumbent insurers to fend off potential competitors such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and other non-traditional players," said CommerzVentures, the fintech venture capital fund of CommerzBank.
Walchek said that Trov plans to launch next year in the United States, where it has teamed up with Munich Re and the company already has been doing business in Australia for the past five months in partnership with Suncorp Group Ltd.
Walchek said that Millennials who work from home or from a coffee shop with their laptop - leading "untethered" lifestyles, which they want to protect, are the main users and target customers of Trov.
Walchek said that the firms plans to add other insurance categories going forward, such as sporting goods, and for a start, the company now provide one swipe on-demand insurance and coverage for electronics and photography equipment in the UK.
Erik Brynjolfsson, professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management said that partly due to the fact that insurance is subject to moral hazard and adverse selection, this growing industry has been slow to adopt new, potentially disruptive technologies.
"Meaning that one party may know information that the other doesn't and markets tend to break down in those situations," he said in an interview.
He added that the insurance sector can overcome those barriers to adoption to new and disruptive technology by the ability of these types of technology firms to mine vast amounts of web-based data, along with the type of ratings systems used by firms like Airbnb and Uber to verify trustworthiness and reliability.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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