Last year, the insurance industry witnessed three major InsurTechs go public. This week Hippo joined Lemonade, Metromile and Root on the New York Stock Exchange. Here's how it's going.
Last year, the insurance industry witnessed three major InsurTechs go public. And earlier this week, Hippo joined Lemonade, Metromile and Root on the New York Stock Exchange.
After a year of technological acceleration, how have these companies fared? Are they each steadily coming of age? Or are they small fish in a big pond on Wall Street? The answer: It's a mixed bag.
Here's a quick review of where four prominent and publicly traded InsurTechs sit in today's marketplace since floating their shares and collectively raising billions of dollars:
1) Lemonade. This week, Lemonade's share price stood at around $87, offering a fine return on investment on the $27 price at initial public offering (IPO) in July 2020.
Lemonade uses artificial intelligence and behavioral economics to offer renters, homeowners, pet and term life insurance in the U.S., as well as contents and liability policies in Germany and the Netherlands, and renters insurance in France.
In April, Lemonade announced plans to add car insurance to its lineup, readying what it calls Lemonade Car. The same month, it announced that growth in in-force premium accelerated to 89% year-over-year. However, in May, the technology-backed insurer inflamed the internet's ire after posting on social media about how it uses artificial intelligence to analyze videos of customers when determining if their claims are fraudulent. Lemonade claims to use “100X more data than traditional insurance carriers," and create “nuanced profiles" about insureds, which help Lemonade determine risk. However, in reaction to the tweet about AI and video, keyboard warriors on Twitter tore into Lemonade arguing that AI can discriminate against certain races, genders, economic classes, and disabilities, creating a short-lived media storm.
At the end of the first quarter of 2021, the company's year-on-year gross loss ratio skyrocketed 68%, clocking in at 121% overall. In a shareholder letter, the company was quick to play down the $49 million loss, attributing it to the “Texas Big Freeze."
2) Root. In October 2020, Root hit the market at $27 per share. This week, the app-enabled auto insurance provider sits at a lowly $7.37 per share, representing a 73% decline.
Why? Root lost $363 million in 2020, up from $282.4 million the previous year, according to its fourth-quarter 2020 shareholder letter.
However, the letter also included some cause for optimism. It stated that direct earned premium for 2020 reached $605 million, up 71% versus 2019, and their direct loss ratio improved 17 points.
In June, Root announced RootReady, which pairs sensors from connected cars with its proprietary app, allowing drivers who own a 2015 or newer General Motors vehicles, including Chevrolet, GMC, Buick, and Cadillac models, to get an instant quote without taking the Root test drive, which served to rate and quote new insureds over several weeks while the app monitors a driver's behavior.
According to Root, more than 85% of qualifying drivers who were presented with the option to receive a quote opted in to immediate quoting with RootReady. The usage-based auto insurance space is crowded at present but “Root is meeting drivers where they are today with where the market is headed tomorrow through both mobile and vehicle connectivity," the company said recently. “As the overall volume of connected vehicles continues to grow, RootReady offers drivers the option to further simplify the quoting process, receiving all the benefits of a fair quote without any wait."
3) Metromile. In February 2021, digital pay-per-mile auto insurer Metromile became a public company after merging with INSU Acquisition Corp. II, a publicly traded SPAC. This week, the company stood at $7.26 per share, down 64.4% from its post-combination highs, which at one point stood on the brink of $20 per share in early 2021.
Declines in share price do not, however, represent Metromile's steadily decreasing loss ratios, which have experts suggesting that the auto insurer could go the distance. Metromile's long-term ambitions were further illustrated when it announced in May that it will accept Bitcoin as a form of payment.
As the impact of COVID-19 continues to affect driving habits in the U.S. and more drivers adopt the pay-per-mile model, the “savings can be significant," said Rick Chen, spokesperson for Metromile Insurance. “More than 124 million Americans drive 30 miles or fewer or only a few days out of the week, which is considered low mileage in the insurance industry."
4) Hippo. Earlier this week, Hippo announced the completion of its combination with Reinvent Technology Partners Z, a publicly traded SPAC, and began trading on the New York Stock exchange. However, Hippo began life as a publicly traded company in disarray. The day before Hippo began life as a publicly traded company, the SPAC lost 83% of its capital as investors withdrew."
On the first day of trading, Hippo stock briefly traded as high as $10.81 per share in early morning trading before falling below the $10 SPAC IPO price in afternoon trading.
Hippo is a hybrid of a managing general agency, an insurance broker, and a carrier. “Agents are a crucial partner in helping customers get the best protection for their homes," Hippo's website says. “We invest to empower agents in new and better ways, so homeowners can continue to benefit from your expertise."
In March, Hippo CFO Stewart Ellis told analysts that he estimates its loss ratio for 2020 at 121%. Ellis said that had natural catastrophes been at historic levels in 2020, the ratio would have been 24 percentage points lower. Adjusting for this, as well as five points of COVID-19-related losses and 9 points for unearned rate changes, Hippo estimates that its normalized 2020 loss ratio would have been 83%. It is targeting a 60% steady-state loss ratio "over time," the executive added.
Hippo's total written premiums grew from $142 million in 2018 to $405 million in 2020, the company said. It forecasts $544 million this year and $2.28 billion by 2025.
Will Jones is IA editor-in-chief.