Engaging Insurance

fitness-1348867_1920This month Prescient has been exploring the rapidly changing nature of the global insurance market.  We’ve been delighted to speak with co-founders of two of the most exciting InsurTech businesses driving fundamental change within the sector, Jan-Philipp Kruip of FitSense and Alberto Chierici of SPIXII.

This is not just an interesting story about how technology successfully disrupts an established market.  Nor are these businesses on a quest to shake things up in a subversive sense.

FitSense and SPIXII have captured the imagination of insurance companies and investors alike, not merely because they are innovative and clever.  Crucially they are committed to enhancing relationships between customers and insurance providers, so that everyone is better off as a result.  Consumers will benefit from accessing more tailored products at the right price, while insurers build trust with customers, a key step towards positive referral and loyalty.

Chierici, a former part-qualified pricing actuary and data scientist (and one of an elite breed of actuarial entrepreneurs) is a true ambassador for insurance.  As he explains,‘We wanted to change the face of insurance and how it is perceived.  We did a lot of research and were amazed at the confusion and perceptions of mistrust.  We wanted people to appreciate and understand what insurance brings from a societal point of view.’

Positively obsessed by customer experience SPIXII is on a mission to make insurance simple, accessible and personal, starting by redesigning the way in which people buy insurance.  SPIXII is an automated insurance agent, a conversational chat bot accessible via messaging platforms or via native mobile app.

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All you need is a ‘hello’ to get started. From there, you can tell SPIXII about your plans, for instance if you’re about to set off to Barcelona for the weekend and want to find out what insurance options are available to you.

A good place to start is travel insurance but the scope is far more wide reaching and SPIXII is already in talks with 12 insurers to pilot the technology for selling multiple products, including motor, health, travel and home.

SPIXII is ideally situated to start the insurance conversation on a positive note, especially when addressing the needs and lifestyles of Millennials, widely documented as influential drivers of change.  Born between 1980 and 2000 the Millennial generation is the biggest in US history – bigger even than Baby Boomers.

Kruip of FitSense comes from a finance background and confirms that the needs of Millennials will require a fresh approach, estimating that within 10 years over half of people who take out insurance will seek to buy it in a different way – via mobile distribution and insurance on demand.


FitSense is in a strong position to help health and life insurance companies provide better insurance through capture and use of data from wearable devices. Kruip explains the benefits for more targeted propositions,‘We can use the data we generate to target Insurance products that are much more specific to each person.  At the moment there are four or five insurance products and they are very broad.  Everyone is engaged in the same way – underwriting is the same. This can be a limitation because insurance companies don’t know who their customers are.’

FitSense creates a much clearer profile through the data it gathers, to better inform tailored, relevant products to match specific consumer risk profiles, enabling tangible engagement and driving recruitment and retention.

If you want people to buy insurance you have to offer them something in return and healthcare is perfectly situated to adopt the FitSense value proposition – Vitality in the UK is a good example of how members benefit from data capture, with points awarded for healthy activity undertaken.

FitSense understands that initial engagement with customers with a mutually beneficial proposition is just the beginning of a long-term sustainable relationship.  It’s far easier to introduce new products to customers who are already engaged.  For instance, young, active people might not see a need for life assurance because they’re young (and invincible!), but if you can approach a keen cyclist with a bespoke proposition for cyclists then relevance is established and motivation for uptake grows.

Pioneering companies like SPIXII and FitSense are helping providers to revitalise consumer trust in insurance, bridging the emotional gap between end users and product providers.

As Chierici concludes, ‘We want to create a powerful new brand that customers will trust.  We also want to deliver value to insurance companies.’

Sounds like a healthy outcome all round.

For more information please visit FitSense at http://www.getfitsense.com/ and SPIXII at I want SPIXII

You can also vote here for SPIXII to win the 2016 Virgin Media Business Award:




“… and How Do you Feel About That?” Argentina’s in Therapy. But It’s Okay with It.

tango-935221_1280Nicknamed the Paris of South America, Buenos Aires provides an abundance of culturally rich and unique experiences. The infamous Tango dancing in the streets, the exquisitely cooked steaks in exclusive and quirky restaurants, the multitude of late night salsa clubs and the art of drinking Mate (pronounced ‘matt-ay’; a caffeine-rich infused drink) whilst basking in the glorious sunshine aside one of the city’s popular lakeside parks.

However, it is the Argentine people themselves who are most intriguing, with the enormous presence of psychoanalysis and use of therapists among its inhabitants.

There are over 60,000 psychotherapists working in Buenos Aires alone. It is so popular in fact, that the neighbourhood of Palermo is nicknamed ‘Villa Freud’.

Buenos Aires is the psychoanalytical capital of the world with twice the number of therapists per head than New York. Chatting with a local ‘porteño’, the name given to those Argentines living in the port city of Buenos Aires, he explained that most of his friends had gone or go to therapy, “I have been for seven years, my mother for fifteen and my father for twenty years”.

Interestingly, the word ‘porteño’ dates back to the first half of the 20th century. Entitled the ‘Golden Age’, the country looked set to become a leading global economic power as millions of Europeans immigrated to start a new life there. It is believed that Argentines therefore felt they did not have strong roots in the local traditions and it is still ‘a country in constant search of its identity’.

Writer, actor and psychotherapist, Eduardo Pavlosky believes that Argentina is a country traumatised by a history of violent conflict, economic crisis and an uncertain future. In this regard, he suggests “In times of crisis like that, it’s very easy to go from one extreme to another. From black to white and from white to black. That’s what personality disorders are about.”

Psychoanalysis is said to be intertwined heavily with the idiosyncrasies of the Tango. The dance in its present form was developed around the mid to late 19th century in Buenos Aires with psychoanalysis beginning in Vienna at the same time. Both are born of European Romanticism, in a time of asking ‘Why?’. Why is this happening to me?’. A time heavily entrenched in melancholia.

Despite its sullen beginnings, psychoanalysis is now an integral part of Argentine society. It is so well-respected in fact that Bueno Aires has the radio station La Colifata (which literally means looney), written and produced by patients of a mental hospital. The documentary, ‘Argentina In Therapy’ explores this further, as one patient highlights, “It connects the institution with the community. It’s a way of communicating”.

Psychoanalyst Gabriel Rolon believes that the proliferation of therapists is good news. In contrast to other countries, Argentina gives as much space to emotional health as it does to physical. He explains that a history of war, corruption and persecution have made Argentines great “listeners interested in the pain of others, because we also need people to be interested in our pain”.

Intrigued by the open approach to mental health and sitting in one of the glorious parks drinking Mate, a friend summarised her reason for using therapy: “Talking about your problems can be an amazing experience, to talk and to listen is an art, it helps you understand your experiences more clearly, it helps emotional wounds to heal”.

Hannah Dean: Cultural Writer

The growth of India’s newspaper industry

men reading paperIn a global climate of declining newspaper sales, India’s news publications appear to be holding fast.

India has a growing and constantly changing newspaper market, with daily circulation up from 150 million in 2002 rising to 264 million in 2014; it is expected to continue to rise in the coming years. However, the newspaper industry in India hasn’t always enjoyed increasing readership. India’s newspaper industry has faced restrictions because of state censorship, a lack of investment and the challenge of language were all barriers faced by the industry.

The years between 1991 and 2006 belonged to the television and Internet in India and this changed the habits of the nation, seeing the country’s population hungry for more media choices.

The rapid expansion of the Internet was accompanied by a newspaper revolution. Growth in technology and the importing of new printing equipment meant that it was becoming commercially viable for newspapers to be printed in a variety of regional languages rather than predominantly either in Hindi or English.

The availability of newspapers in different languages has meant that India’s newspaper market appeals to millions of non-English speakers. It is predicted that by 2017, the revenues for non-English papers will overtake that of English newspapers for the first time ever.

Increasing literacy rates across India has driven the localisation of newspapers, made possible by the changes in printing technology. The increasing literacy rates in rural areas of India has seen the investment in newspapers grow, and often, the greatest increase in circulation of newspapers has been in areas with increasing literacy rather than increasing economic power. By reading a newspaper people, who had been previously denied, have been given an opportunity to be involved in civic and political participation.  Kerala is one such example.  Throughout the twentieth century, this was an area with some of the highest literacy rates in India. There was also a strong sense of political involvement amongst the people, and the newspaper readership per 1000 was well above the national average for India, yet the average income for Kerala was below the Indian national average. This shows that rather than newspapers being a sign of the elite, they are now seen as a mass medium, and a way for Indian citizens participating in national affairs.

Underwriting the localisation of India’s newspapers is media advertising, which has grown alongside newspaper circulations. The growth of media advertising meant that Indian newspapers began to receive investment, and this made the decentralisation of news possible. Indian media consumers were first targeted by incentives via television in the early 1990’s, but this soon spread to print media, when it was discovered how lucrative incentives and gifts for readers could be. Incentives are often offered in order to increase circulation.  The Dainik Bhaskar, one of the most popular newspapers in India, spent 15 million rupees to tempt newspaper subscribers with a plastic chair in Chhattisgarh.

Perhaps the biggest reason why newspapers across India have continued to increase their circulation is due to the political engagement that they allow.

For people who were previously marginalised, or unable to contribute to political debates, newspapers have provided an opportunity to engage with politics at both a regional and national level. This suggests that as the population of India continues to become more upwardly mobile, the growth of newspapers will continue, with the only question remaining: how long can this growth be sustained?


Pop Up Public Art in Christchurch

boxparkOn 22nd February 2011, Christchurch New Zealand, was hit by a 6.3-magnitude earthquake. It caused widespread devastation and killed 185 people.

It was recently the five year anniversary and a number of news stories reflected on what has occurred since the earthquake in New Zealand’s second biggest city.

The rebuild is set to cost an estimated NZ$40bn and has been faced with criticism in its efforts and timescale. Despite this, as The Guardian reported, ‘residents in Christchurch say it [the earthquake] has also given them a chance to thoroughly examine and debate what they want from their new home, and allowed creativity and innovation to flourish’.

Accordingly, a number of charitable organisations have worked with the notion of creativity in Christchurch since the earthquake. Gap Filler, an initiative described as  ‘filling the gaps of Christchurch with pop up creative projects’ suggest that ‘before the quake, people thought of Christchurch as quite conservative, but now the opportunities have given people a blank canvas, if nothing else, and people are very open minded about what the spaces could be.’

Similarly, Greening the Rubble – a charity providing parks and outdoor community spaces on empty land in the city state that ‘‘…art is even more important after traumatic events. You can’t always put into words how you feel.’

Throughout Christchurch, this notion of a new lease of life through creativity is clearly evident.  Despite the fact the centre is filled with the sound of drills and shells of former buildings, there is pop up artwork and creativity around every corner. Exploring the city is a sensory voyage involving immersion in new and emerging public art and sculpture.

Reflection of Loss of Lives, Livelihoods and Living in Neighbourhood is an installation by Peter Majendie consisting of 185 white chairs. Representing each of the 185 people who died in the earthquake, each chair is different and reflects a bold memorial to the loss Christchurch experienced.  Visitors are invited to sit on the chairs and take time to reflect.


The Transitional Cathedral is a temporary space for worship and reflection as the city’s cathedral was severely damaged in the earthquake.  Designed by the architect Shigeru Ban, the Transitional Cathedral is made out of cardboard and seats up to 700 people.


Shipping containers are a common sight around Christchurch. They have been, and still are, used to block entrance to dangerous areas and hold up semi fallen buildings in the city. However, since October 2011, they have also been used as part of Re: START – a unique retail space consisting of temporary buildings made from shipping containers. The space also consists of a multi-media attraction named ‘Quake City’ which tells stories of Christchurch’s earthquakes.

The inclusion of creativity and art in the process of rebuilding Christchurch is uplifting, and allows for the injection of colour, imagination and vibrancy juxtaposed with rubble and construction. It has built new spaces for people to enjoy, rebuilt new places of worship and importance and allowed for an expressive way to work through the grief and impact of such a traumatic event. Christchurch highlights the importance of public art and creativity within the process of healing and will remain visible as the city rebuilds.

Trending in Melbourne

Lido Cinema
Lido Cinema

To say what is trending in Melbourne is difficult, as I could mention so many things, and Melburnians are so ahead of the curve that ‘trending’ items can be ephemeral. Despite all this, there are some things that are definitely ‘in’ right now – it is January, meaning that we are half way through the Australian summer, with Melbourne infamous for its indecisive and erratic weather, cool sunshine and the odd shower have been more common than the oppressively humid 40-degree days of yore, meaning that it is more pleasant to go out. The rain does, however, ensure that when the heavens do invariably open, it is best to stay ensconced inside whichever hipster café or bar you may find yourself.

Trending Entertainment…

January also means the return of the Australian Open, and if tennis isn’t your thing, then you would be well advised to check out one of the city’s many rooftop cinemas and catch a movie under the night sky. Plenty of cinemas around Melbourne offer not only the new releases under the stars, but a few classics too. Crowd favourites include the imaginatively named Rooftop Cinema, the charming Moonlight Cinema in the Botanical Gardens, and the Lido in Hawthorn, plus many more places to gaze at the stars and Star Wars, or at the sky and Reservoir Dogs – they are offering plenty of screenings until late March.

Trending Tucker

In Australia, a ‘feed’ means getting a good meal, and there’s plenty to whet your appetite and to satisfy it in the foodie city of Melbourne; the night markets at Queen Victoria Market offer some excellent street food, but these nocturnal street-eats are available all over the city in Coburg, South Melbourne and St Kilda – so take your pick and gorge away.

If you’re more of a day person, then brunch is the sort of thing that never stops trending, as the bustling and ever-evolving brunch scene and café culture in Melbourne seems to pride itself on continuing to churn out fantastic eateries, and what better time to sit in the sun and tuck into ‘smashed avo’ on toast than in the summertime? If it is recommendations that you seek, then every Melburnian has their favourite spots (even if they can be fickle in their allegiance when a new joint opens up), my personal favourites are Il Fornaio in St Kilda, 2 Birds, 1 Stone in South Yarra and Top Paddock in East Richmond; however, there are hundreds more to choose from, and you won’t be disappointed with either the adventurous brunch options or the excellent coffee.

Trending Tipple

As mentioned, Melbourne’s coffee is outstanding, but if it is booze that appeals more, then plenty of locals seems to be drinking either cider or Moonshine cocktails. This is surprising for a city rightly famous for wine and craft beer, but cider and Moonshines are all the rage at the moment. The Moonshines come from Melbourne’s newest obsession with Southern U.S. cuisine (and of course, they have created a Melbourne Moonshine with its own Melburnian edge), and the cider is increasingly popular due to its novel invasion into the city’s summer menus.

Over the next month or so, Melbourne’s summer will die down and winter will descend upon the city, heralding the Australian Rules Football to the most ‘footy’ obsessed town in the world, and rooftop cinemas, night markets and tennis will die out in seasonal popularity, ready for the next trend to sweep through the city.

Paris: In search of open social space

Paris: In search of open social space

It’s been a few years now since the Grand Paris project has started to become a tangible reality and it is clear that Parisian party-makers and party-goers recently adapted to this new trend.

Many of the trendiest and most up-to-date clubs are now located in the near suburbs. Parisians, facing gentrification, want to escape from the agitation and the narrowness of the city to greater and greener spaces.

6B pioneered a trend which reflected that need for space in 2010 with a crowd-funding concept. A whole building on the Seine bank in Saint-Denis dedicated to different kinds of arts – exhibitions, plays, concerts, and more recently DJ sets and after-parties organized on an artificial beach to enjoy the music toes in the sand.

Since then, a dozen locations were born outside the city centre: Paris 80 in Bobigny is combining a restaurant, a performance hall and an open-air clubbing side, Le Tunnel and District Factory are both night clubs located in a disused chalk quarry in Issy-lesMoulineaux.  If you’re looking for something more relaxed, Sonnenkönig in Saint-Ouen is a place where one can enjoy a barbecue while listening to music, which is again placed next to yet another suburban-initiative – the contemporary art gallery Until Then.

Parisians are constantly looking for underground and atypical places to go, which, besides from the new permanent locations, has resulted in a number of other one-off happenings and events in the suburban-areas. The chateau of Vincennes hosted an open-air party in September; an abandoned villa in Nanterre is occasionally occupied by a musical collective. It is mainly about sharing with others, and more importantly, getting together outside of traditional and overloaded meeting places.

This shift in scene and partying has been noticed by several official institutions as well, who are currently working towards increasing metros’ and buses’ frequency during the night for a better mobility. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs also underlined the importance of the new Parisian nightlife and is currently working on a project to enhance and promote it abroad.

The city centre is challenged like never before. Suburban events are popular, cool and, if we have to predict, here to stay.