The Future of Embedded Insurance
I was introduced to Rob Schimek by our mutual friend and colleague, Leandro DalleMule. In addition to being a leading global insurance executive, Rob is an extreme sports enthusiast—a passion he shares with Leandro.
In this interview, Rob shares his vision of embedded insurance and how insurtechs, like bolttech (which Rob helms), can enable and enhance the growth of incumbent insurance companies. He sees this as an evolution of the insurance industry, rather than a disruption.
As the vast majority of global premium comes from incumbent carriers, not insurtechs, this is a critical piece in the puzzle of incorporating new technology in insurance and making insurance easier to buy and sell.
Rob sees embedded insurance as a key component of this evolutionary process, and defines three phases for the embedded insurance evolution. He adds that while most of us are still in phase one, very few, including bolttech, are in phase two. And his firm aims to be one of the very first to break into phase three.
In order to achieve this evolution, we need to build the foundation for the third phase of embedded insurance, which is the focus of this interview.
A Quote from Rob
“Embedded insurance is still in its early stages and we’re all primarily working in unchartered territory, but the good news is we don’t have to do it alone. Working with industry players and even bringing in distributors from outside the industry, collaborative partnerships can create new distribution models for an old industry.”
David Schapiro (DS): Could you please tell us a bit about yourself and how you found your way into insurance?
Rob Schimek (RS): Today, I’m leading bolttech, an international insurtech, based out of Singapore. I was the founding CEO and it’s been an incredible experience to be on this journey with the team. But let me share how I got here.
In the early days of my career, I was a partner at Deloitte & Touche for 18 years, working with global financial institution clients, including MetLife, Prudential, and Merrill Lynch. It was during my time working at Deloitte when MetLife went public, and at the time it was the largest IPO in history. It was an incredibly exciting experience, given the size and strength of MetLife.
While I enjoyed consulting, I was also interested in the opportunity to have my hands on the wheel. I made a move into executive management from Deloitte, joining AIG as EVP and CFO, and I fell in love with insurance. AIG is one of the best places to learn about the insurance business. In fact, you’ll find that many of today’s leading insurance executives are AIG alums.
Outside of work, one of my passions is fitness and tackling physical challenges. You’ll often find me at the gym or competing in some of the world’s toughest endurance competitions, such as the 78° North Pole Marathon (one of the most northern marathons in the world). In fact, I’m just about to complete my 3rd Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.
DS: AIG is a great place to make a lifelong career. Could you please elaborate on your move onwards?
RS: I spent over a decade at AIG and held CEO positions for EMEA, the Americas, and the Global Commercial business. I saw first-hand the rapid pace of global digitization and the pain points and challenges a large and successful traditional insurer can face when trying to move fast and adapt to a changing external environment.
I left AIG in 2018 to join pan-Asian life insurer FWD Insurance, a relative newcomer making exciting progress in changing the perception of insurance in Asia and leveraging technology to transform the customer experience. I then had the opportunity to tackle a completely new challenge establishing a high-growth insurtech as the Group CEO. As we began building bolttech, we began to see that our insurance distribution ecosystem could change the face of the industry.
We launched bolttech in 2020, and today as a group we are operating across the United States, Asia, and Europe. bolttech’s proposition is to make the insurance industry more accessible, inclusive, and efficient by creating a partnership-led model that is fast becoming the distribution infrastructure of the future.
DS: Could you please elaborate on the Bolttech vision?
RS: Our vision is to connect people with more ways to protect the things they value. We’ve set out to build the world’s leading technology-enabled ecosystem connecting insurers, distribution partners, and customers, making it easier for people to buy and sell insurance.
As an enabler, we’re not looking to disrupt or replace any players in the industry. Instead, we connect the right partners on both the supply and demand side of the insurance sales equation, and in turn offer customers access to a choice of relevant products and an improved experience. While this translates to growth for the whole insurance industry, the customers ultimately benefit as they will be better protected than ever before.
At bolttech, we know great things can be accomplished when the industry works together—the incumbents and the newcomers.
DS: And how does all this tie into embedded insurance?
RS: The future of embedded insurance is at the heart of this vision. Embedded insurance is about bringing protection into the daily lives of customers so that getting the right insurance coverage at the right time is easy, seamless, and convenient. bolttech is one of the world’s leading embedded insurance providers.
Embedded insurance is still in its early stages and has massive growth potential. As noted in the Embedded Insurance 2.0 report, $5 trillion of insurance could be distributed by non-insurance brands worldwide over the next decade, which would make 16 percent of the forecasted global insurance spend—up from 1 percent sold in embedded today. And while embedded insurance is currently just a small part of the global gross written premium (GWP) at less than $150 billion, it is forecasted to grow by six times to over $700 billion by 2030. Opening the door to distributors outside of traditional insurance and tapping into their customer relationships presents a significant opportunity to expand insurance distribution, ensuring more people around the world are protected.
The potential of embedded insurance is even more significant in developing markets, where the insurance industry currently makes up only two percent of gross domestic product (GDP). That is one of the main reasons I relocated from the United States to Asia: to be closer to these global developing markets. And that’s also why bolttech is headquartered in Singapore, a geostrategic node to Southeast Asia and the wider Asian region.
Let me paint a better view of this with an analogy: The embedded insurance playing field today is like a young kids’ soccer game where everyone is running together in a group chasing after the ball. There’s very little passing between the players across the field.
Now if you compare this to a professional league soccer game, the team players are more spread out and there’s more passing on the field. In this way, the teams can carry the ball much further up the field, quickly bypassing obstacles and enabling each player to maximize their capabilities. That’s the beauty of the game.
In the same way with embedded insurance, we want each player—insurer, distributor, manufacturer—to maximize their capabilities and optimize their profits.
DS: What is your vision of the embedded insurance journey?
RS: I see three key use cases for embedded insurance.
We start with microinsurance products within homogenous journeys that provide a simple solution at the point of need. For example, a customer adds mobile phone insurance at the point of sale of the phone, either online or in-store. Device protection is one of bolttech’s hero products, and we work with many telecommunications companies, retailers, and electronics manufacturing partners globally.
The next step up is to embed a marketplace—this model gives customers choice and elevates the customer experience by providing access to a range of relevant products. This works particularly well with more complex products, such as home and auto, when customers want to compare features to find the insurance that suits their needs. We work with all kinds of non-insurance businesses, such as banks and fintechs, to add insurance marketplace options to their customer portals and touch points. But we also work with insurers to help them expand beyond their own offerings to provide their customers with a choice of products that are typically outside their risk appetite and expertise.
The final opportunity in embedded is all about the potential to add value with adjacent services. In the example of home insurance, embedded insurance means we can provide ways for customers to renew or add new protection products via the internet of things (IoT) and connected homes technologies, or they could be saving on their premiums with leak detection devices that enable smart parametric insurance.
Today, very few embedded insurers look beyond microinsurance opportunities. bolttech is across all three applications, and we are looking ahead to continue to innovate with services and new technologies. Quoting the ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, “We are skating to where the puck is going to be.” bolttech will remain focused on the evolution and growth of embedded insurance over the coming years, knowing that not only will the industry benefit, but that it will play a critical role for customers by improving financial inclusion and taking customer experience to the next level.
DS: Are there any final thoughts you would like to share?
RS: Embedded insurance is still in its early stages and we’re all primarily working in unchartered territory, but the good news is we don’t have to do it alone. Working with industry players and even bringing in distributors from outside the industry, collaborative partnerships can create new distribution models for an old industry.
Since our launch two years ago, we’ve established powerful and successful partnerships, working with insurers like Progressive, USAA, and Liberty Mutual, as well as non-insurance businesses such as Keller Williams, Nerd Wallet, and Better.com. We are continually looking to add new insurers and distributors to our ecosystem in the United States and worldwide
Rob Schimek – Bio
Rob Schimek is the Group Chief Executive Officer of bolttech. He leads the bolttech team across their operations globally, overseeing the firm’s growth and partnership opportunities.
With more than 30 years’ experience in the financial services industry, Rob has previously held senior leadership roles in insurance, including Managing Director & Group Chief Operating Officer for FWD Group, President and CEO of AIG’s commercial insurance businesses worldwide, and Chief Executive Officer of the Americas for AIG. Prior to that, Rob served as President and Chief Executive Officer of EMEA for AIG and was the Chief Financial Officer of AIG’s global property and casualty insurance business.
Before joining AIG, Rob was a partner at Deloitte & Touche LLP where, for 18 years, he used his public accounting experience to serve global financial institution clients, including MetLife, The Prudential Insurance Company of America, and Merrill Lynch.
Rob is a CPA. He earned his MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of Rider University in New Jersey and Chairman of the Rider University Board of Trustees.
Outside of work, Rob can be found in the gym or competing in some of the world’s toughest endurance competitions, such as the FWD 78° North Marathon (one of the most northern marathons in the world) and the Ironman World Championships.