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Scott Walchek, Founder & CEO of Trov
As the Founder and CEO of a highly innovative and commercially successful InsurTech, what was your initial vision for Trov?
Trov has always been focused on building a platform to empower the mobile generation to be able to get the most out of the things that matter to them. It began as a digital inventory where people could catalogue their items and determine their market value.
That concept has since evolved into what we know Trov as today: an on-demand insurance platform that allows people to protect what they want, when they want, for whatever duration they need – entirely from a smartphone.
You said in a recent interview with the ABC that Trov is more about protecting experiences and flexible lifestyles than protecting ‘things’. Can you elaborate on that?
The whole idea of Trov is that we’re providing flexibility and control over a process where there has historically been very little. Insurance is often seen as a confusing and difficult area to navigate, but Trov breaks this idea and gives people the ability to easily protect what they want, just when they need it.
For this reason, we call Trov a ‘lifestyle enabler’. With Trov, people can protect the items that allow them to live and work how they like. Whether it’s their camera for a weekend away or their laptop while they’re commuting, Trov provides a policy that is flexible and adapts to the way you live.
How does Trov provide its customers – especially savvy millennials – with the ability to have agency and control over their insurance choices?
We’re living in an on-demand world. Whether we’re talking about social networking, food delivery, dating or shopping, everything we want is available at the push of a button. Until now, insurance has not existed in that paradigm. Trov was built to empower the mobile generation to take control of protecting the things that are important to them.
Why are micro-duration policies – such as protecting single items by swiping insurance on and off via a smartphone app – the way of the future?
The mobile generation adopts technology at a rapid rate and is consequently spearheading a dramatic shift in purchasing behaviour – everything is on-demand – and businesses have to adapt accordingly.
It’s no different for insurance. As it relates to micro-duration policies, we’re living in a world where it doesn’t make sense to have ‘always-on’ insurance for everything in your life. There are definitely some items that should have insurance on at all times, but you should be able to choose the level of this coverage.
For example, if your camera sits safely in its bag in your home most days of the year, does it make sense to pay for insurance as though it’s outside the home every day of the year?
With Trov, you can tailor your insurance so that it’s relevant to the way you live your life. Turn insurance on just for the summer, when you’re doing events/ weddings (as a photographer, for example), and then turn it off in the winter, if you’re not using your gear.
You recently formed a strategic partnership with Australian insurer Suncorp. How will this partnership positively impact both Trov and Suncorp’s business growth
Suncorp have been our insurance partner in Australia since day one. We see Suncorp as a truly innovative business partner who we are exceptionally proud to partner with. Their foresight to look beyond traditional insurance options and embrace new technologies is truly refreshing.
In your opinion, what is the state of play in Australia’s insurance sector, and how does it compare to the US?
Australia has a much simpler regulatory environment than the US. Entering the US is like launching in 50 different countries, as each state has its own regulatory body. Australia has a single regulatory body nationwide. This is one of the major reasons that we launched in Australia first!
Traditional insurers have struggled to keep up with the accelerated pace of change and are at risk of being left behind. What can traditional insurers learn from agile and nimble InsurTechs?
The key to innovation is genuinely putting the customer first. This can sometimes be hard for traditional insurers who have to deal with decades of exclusions and exceptions being added to policies. There is a fundamental problem in the insurance industry, and that is a lack of reciprocal trust between the customer and the insurer. In other words, customers often don’t trust insurers and insurers often don’t trust the customers. This paradigm needs to shift in order to drive innovation.
To try to restore this lost trust, we need insurance products that put the customer first – sadly, it’s a very difficult thing to do, especially in profit-driven, large organisations. Trov is built on putting the customer first, so if we didn’t do that, we would fail. Our business model is grounded on being different than traditional offerings, which makes us fundamentally unique. If we were the same as what’s out there already, we’d have no reason to exist.
What is the role of the regulator in enabling InsurTechs to drive the sector forward?
We take a highly collaborative approach with regulators. The reality is that regulators are there to protect the customer, so when you put the customer at the centre of the conversation, regulators can be very receptive to the product features and ideas that we’re proposing. As consumer behaviour changes, regulation also needs to change to match these trends.
Bigger players like Amazon and Google are now entering the insurance space. Do you feel that they pose a competitive threat to InsurTechs, and why?
They can be competition, for sure. This is primarily because of the massive amount of data that these companies possess. At the end of the day, risk pricing in insurance is fundamentally a function of the quality of the data that the company has in relation to the particular situation/risk. Companies like Amazon and Google can completely change the face of certain industries.
However, it’s important to keep in mind the core competencies of these companies. Many Big Data players are actually not as interested as you might think in playing directly in the insurance space and building the technology. Rather, they want to see how they can leverage their data to bring more margin to their business. Often the best way to do this is to partner with innovative start-ups that have already built the tech, rather than build it themselves.
Given Trov’s proven track record of shaking up traditional ways of doing business in insurance, what’s next in Trov’s evolution?
At Trov, we’re dedicated to reinventing the way that people protect the things that are important to them and we’re doing it via a flexible, automated, micro-duration insurance platform. The application of this platform is immense and spans far beyond single item insurance. As mentioned, consumer behaviour is rapidly changing and there is a massive need for insurance that matches this lifestyle. Trov is building solutions to gracefully fit into the way people will live their lives tomorrow, not how they lived yesterday. Which, again, is an important distinction between how we operate versus traditional insurers. In addition to introducing new, innovative insurance products, we’ll also be rapidly expanding globally, first in the US and then to other countries, including Japan and Canada to begin with.
Trov provides “a new approach to a very old problem”. Do you feel that insurance is on the brink of further innovation and disruption, and why?
Almost every industry has been disrupted by technology, but insurance has, in large part, remained protected from it. It’s only a matter of time before the old models of insurance are superseded by the new. Consumers will demand it.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs and InsurTechs wanting to make a splash in the insurance industry?
Have patience. Insurance is a big, slow-moving industry and in order to make an impact, you must have the resilience to persevere through the massive regulatory and legacy barriers that exist. At the end of the day, though, you must put the customer first.There is nothing more important than genuinely standing up for what the customer believes in. If this isn’t the number one focus, you may as well quit.