Another ITC come and gone. This year was my 4th year in attendance (2017-2019, 2022). It was also my third time attending with a different badge/title around my neck–first as a member of the press, second as an employee of a reinsurer/investor, and this one as an independent advisor/consultant.
It has taken me a few days to fully process my thoughts post-conference (a few days added on in Vegas for a friend’s 40th birthday didn’t help!).
This post reflects on my thoughts of the evolution of the conference, specific observations from this year’s event, and how these mirror the maturation of insurtech as a whole.
The first ITC I attended was in 2017
I, (as many others), showed up to the conference mere hours after the tragic shooting at Mandalay Bay. We didn’t really know if we should still be having a conference given the circumstances, but we came together as a community and carried on.
While there were close to 2,500 people at that conference (the largest I had been to at the time), I still remember a sense of tight community, with many new ideas and bright-eyed individuals.
Incumbents were excited to hear about new technologies impacting the insurance value chain.
Founders were excited about new ideas and tackling a trillion-dollar industry that consumers disliked.
Investors had massive checkbooks and were funding startups based on a pitch deck. The pre-conference workshops were just that: workshops.
People were excited to see drones flying around the expo hall.
In 2022, everything just felt… large, and mature
- The community is large, though some of the charm from the earlier ITC conferences seemed to be lost. The number of participants ranged from 8,500 to 10,000. ITC has now become the CES for insurance.
- Many individuals commented that there was nothing ‘new’ for them to see in terms of solutions and that there were ‘so many firms that do x or y’. My feeling is that this is because people understand applications of emerging technologies more than before and hence, the concepts many founders/startups are talking about are not ‘new’ anymore.
- I had one person tell me they were looking for ‘their mind to be blown’. I don’t recall hearing this expectation before and am curious if they in fact achieved this desire!
- The makeup of who incumbents sent to the conference was different. While previously many carriers in attendance were strictly C-suite, many sent their mid-level management, with those citing the opportunity for ‘exposure’ and ‘education’.
- The hustle is paying off. There were several founders/start-up executives that I observed in 2017 getting their start who have had successful exits, recent fundraises and/or other milestones that they have been able to celebrate. I tip my hat to those who have been on the grind for so long and are able to celebrate some massive wins.
- Money is still being deployed and invested, albeit at more normal valuations and for more proven capabilities. This is causing some heartache for many founders too as it is becoming much more difficult to raise money than before.
- This is a conference to get (stuff) done and one must have a plan before going in. There are too many people to meet/network with, talks going on, booths to visit and after-hours events that if one does not have a plan, they can be lost and unproductive.
- At the same time, leaving time for serendipity is still good.
- Human interactions are great but not perfect. It was unbelievable to interact and reunite with individuals that I had not seen in 3 years. There is a feeling/vibe that one can get from an individual that you just can’t get from the screen. At the same time, I had many of my carrier/VC friends telling me that free time at an event was light because they were constantly getting pitched by startups. I feel like this has always been (and will always be) a challenge at conferences, but this one felt a bit more in-your-face than before.
- Puppies are clearly a must for any mature conference.
The evolution of the conference very much mirrors the evolution we’ve seen in insurtech.
ITC started in 2016, around the same time that the term insurtech became more mainstream (2014/2015). At the time, there was a lot of unknowns, fanfare, and excitement.
Today, there are still many unknowns, fanfare, and excitement. However, there are also several more individuals, companies and technologies that have matured and grown to a level that make insurtech more of a ‘household name’ than before. This was evident in the fact that there was clearly an ‘old’ and ‘new’ guard at the event (across startup, incumbent and investor), with the old guard reuniting with friends and the new guard trying to figure out how to navigate it all.
Insurance has been around for a long time and will continue to be around for a lot longer. We are going to continue to provide coverage for individuals for the things they value most. We will use data to target them, underwrite them, help them mitigate/prevent claims, and then to help them process that claim when it happens.
The way in which we do it, and the tools, technology and people trying to tackle these problems will continue to evolve and mature. The future is bright and there are tons of inspired and exciting individuals who are eager to fine-tune insurance products now and for years to come. This can only mean more impact and better results for the people who matter most in our industry – our policyholders and their beneficiaries!