Feds to consider expanded services from banks, fintechs

Toronto’s new insurance innovation lab, Cookhouse Lab, officially launched on Wednesday, creating a space where insurance industry stakeholders can collaborate on the development of insurance technology.

Chris Murumets, co-founder and co-CEO of Toronto-based insurance consulting organization LOGiQ3 Group, and Sven Roehl, head of insurance innovation at Ismaning, Germany-based msg systems ag and executive vice president at msg global solutions Canada Inc. in Toronto, launched the lab.

The goal of Cookhouse Lab is to enable the insurance industry to work together to facilitate innovation, instead of individual companies striving to develop new concepts internally.

“There’s a lot of time and money being invested in insurance [innovation]. We just don’t see a lot of real value … there’s so much money being wasted,” says Murumets. “We want Cookhouse to be the enabler to actually produce stuff; don’t just start stuff, finish stuff.”

Murumets admits that the prospect of sharing ideas with other industry players makes some companies uneasy: “There’s always a competitive tension.”

But given the benefits that can arise from pooling resources and expertise with a bigger group of stakeholders, Murumets says many companies are embracing the idea of open collaboration.

“There are companies that believe in working together for the greater good,” he says.

In particular, Cookhouse Lab could be effective in helping the entire insurance industry address challenges and opportunities it’s facing, Murumets says. For example, he suggests the lab could develop solutions to help the industry better cater to the needs of the uninsured middle market and to help the industry identify ways of implementing and benefiting from blockchain technology.

Projects that the lab adopts will have a 90-day timeframe, which will force participants to tackle issues and identify solutions quickly, Murumets says.

The projects will incorporate an element of “crowdsourcing,” as Cookhouse Lab will build a network of thousands of people with insurance industry expertise who can weigh in on various ideas developed within the lab.

The lab’s first project, which kicks off on Thursday, aims to explore the concept of loyalty rewards and “gamification,” and how that could be applied to insurance.

The lab has five member companies so far. Its goal is to have 20-25 member companies by the end of 2017.

Cookhouse Lab hosted a daylong event to mark its launch on Wednesday, including an “InsurTech” startup challenge in which six entrepreneurs presented their startup ideas to a room of more than 100 representatives from insurers and reinsurers.

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