Marshmallow the blueprint for insurtech success

Insurtechs have the agility, technical expertise and customer focus to outmanoeuvre traditional insurers – although there is room in the market for both types of providers.

That was the opinion of Paula (Coulthard) Griffiths, Insurance Director at Marshmallow, who delivered a keynote address – ‘Motor Insurance in a Modern World’ – at ILC’s Exclusive Motor Claims Conference, which took place at London’s prestigious Landing Forty Two.

During an insightful session, she sought to answer three key questions:

  • What makes an insurtech?
  • Are insurtechs the way forward?
  • Can they outmaneouvre legacy insurers?

She said that while innovation and technology is fundamental to an insurtech, what really separates them from traditional providers is mindset.

Paula said, “Insurtechs are forward-thinkers. They are not thinking about the now, but what the market will be like in six months, a year, three years. They’re not thinking about customer behaviour today, but what it will be like in the future.”


Gaining an insight into where the industry is heading is only half the battle though, and Paula believes a key advantage insurtechs have over traditional insurers is their ability – and willingness – to adapt.

She said, “The big difference is the speed at which insurtechs operate. If you talk about something once, it will have been done the next time you discuss it. This doesn’t come without risks, and insurtechs do make mistakes. But they learn from them quickly and change.”

Underpinning that entrepreneurial spirit, she said, is an often younger workforce not bogged down by legacy thinking, and often comprising mainly non-insurance people who have not built their careers in organisations with the attitude of ‘this is how we’ve always done things so this is how we’ll continue to do things’.

Instead, the mindset focuses on evolution and continuous development and this, she said, is always shaped by the customer.


She explained that Marshmallow is constantly communicating with its policyholders – through the channels convenient to them – to understand them better and gain a deeper insight into their habits and expectations. This includes monitoring review sites like TrustPilot and speaking to customers after every single claim to seek further feedback.

Paula said, “At Marshmallow there is a relentless focus on customer service. Customers buy a promise that we’re going to look after them when they have a claim and we have to keep up with their ever-changing needs. Every bad review is like a kick in the ribs, so everyone here looks at the customer journey and asks, how can we improve? That means researching the customer, researching what other insurers are doing, and finding out what we can learn from other people.”


As part of its process of continuous improvement, Marshmallow moved from outsourcing claims to insourcing and now takes upwards of 1,000 claims a month through a department that has quickly swelled to 32 people.

However, underlining its agility of approach, it is blending the best of both worlds by working with claims partners who are experts in their areas.

Paula explained, “We don’t handle every claim because it’s too expensive and we know we’re not always the experts. So we’ve gone from one claims supplier to multiple. Our view is to work with the specialists who are best in their class, to bring them all together to supplement our own service and provide our customers with the best possible claims journey.”


Of course, not every insurtech is as successful as Marshmallow, and Paula believes the difference can be found in business maturity, an ability to retain the attitude of a start-up while still evolving into a serious, profit-generating organisation.

She said, “You need to see a return on that investment because that is where your valuation comes from.

“That includes investment into people, research and development. But at the end of the day it’s your technology that links it all together. It’s not all about technology, but that is the area where you can get increased efficiencies – better supply chain management so you’re not waiting six weeks to see outcomes; live, integrated data that you can act on immediately instead of silos of information.

“That’s why we are constantly investing in technology because it is not something you build once; it needs to be constantly improved or within six months it will be out of date.

ILC’s Exclusive Motor Claims Conference was headline sponsored by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and sponsored by EDAM Group and LexisNexis Risk Solutions.


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