Cover-More Group, a provider of travel insurance and medical assistance, has acquired a majority stake in analytics company FitSense, which enables health and life insurers to personalise products and services by using app and device data.
The transaction details were not disclosed.
Post the deal, FitSense will operate as a standalone entity within Cover-More Group and will work with other insurers. The firm is relocating from Singapore to its new base in Sydney, Australia.
According to FitSense Co-founder and CEO Jan-Philipp Kruip, the partnership provides Cover-More with an injection of funds to allow them to scale the business and continue to innovate their product development,
FitSense, a spin-off enterprise from the National University of Singapore, gathers information on users’ physical activity by consolidating and integrating data from health and fitness apps such as smart watches, mobile phones and other wearable devices. This data is analysed and translated into an Activity Score, which can be used to predict the user’s health and fitness level, and subsequently insurance risk and commensurate premium.
Cover-More Group CEO Mike Emmett said the FitSense technology is impressive and the end result has benefits for both the customer and the insurance provider. “With travel insurance, we currently price risk more around where our customer is travelling to and for how long. We actually know very little around the customer’s own characteristics and health and fitness profile.”
“For example, take two 50-year-old men travelling to the same destination for the same duration. Customer A is very fit, an avid cyclist and an ideal weight for his age. The other leads a more sedentary life, with little regular exercise and is overweight. So the risk is different and FitSense’s technology enables us to assess that rapidly—in real time—and offer a fitness discount to customer A. It’s a highly customised and highly optimised solution,” Emmett added.
Kruip remarked that FitSense technology has broad application across all forms of insurance, including travel, health, life and income protection. “When it comes to medical insurance, people have to pay higher premiums if they had a family history of a chronic disease. However, those who have made healthier lifestyle choices and exercise regularly are not able to benefit from lower premiums. That inequity was our starting point for FitSense. Almost everyone has the option to make healthier lifestyle choices.”
“We wanted to find a way to assess a customer’s health status without the customer answering any additional questions or completing a questionnaire or some other type of assessment,” Kruip shared.
FitSense conducted several pilot studies in 2016 with insurance companies in Europe to demonstrate the willingness of customers to share data from health and fitness apps and validate the accuracy of the Activity Score, compared to a written questionnaire.
FitSense’s data aggregation technology was first developed at the NUS School of Computing by a team, including research engineer Alvaro Gauterin. He developed a data aggregation platform that was able to accurately capture data from wearable devices, with the purpose of using this to understand how exercise impacts health outcomes. Realising the commercial applications of this technology, Gauterin teamed up with Kruip to bring this technology to market, and started FitSense in 2015.
The FitSense co-founders honed their business acumen by attending several accelerator programs, including the Lean LaunchPad Singapore organised by NUS Enterprise which helped them understand the market opportunities, InsurTech London 2016 organised by Startupbootcamp which validated their solution and led to two clients signing on for pilot trials and Global Fintech Hackcelerator organised by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, which put FitSense on the radar for insurers in Asia.
Cover-More is a global integrated travel insurance, medical assistance and employee assistance provider. Based in Australia, Cover-More operates in 13 other countries, including the UK, New Zealand, China, India and the US where the group owns Travelex Insurance Services.
The group was acquired by Zurich Insurance Group in April 2017.