​Trov partners with Suncorp Group to launch on-demand insurance

Trov has chosen Australia to globally launch its platform that will give customers the chance to selectively turn on or off insurance on their smartphone.

San Francisco-based fintech startup Trov has partnered with Suncorp Group to globally launch its on-demand insurance platform in Australia.

Trov Protection, available via the Trov app based on Suncorp Group's insurance products, will initially provide protection for consumer electronics. It will give customers the option to selectively turn on or off insurance using their smartphone by swiping right or left, as well as make claims via the platform's automated bot and live chat.

Trov founder and CEO Scott Walchek -- who has been involved in the tech startup industry for the last 30 years including a number of other ventures such as Baidu and Macromedia that was sold off to Adobe -- said the platform has been designed specifically for the "generation that lives on the smartphone".

"The millennial generation is signalling to the world they need new kinds of services that are on-demand. They just don't want to talk to people. They want ultimate control over their product and services and they get that control through their smartphone; that is how their world comes to them and Trov is the first reinvention of the way people protect their things," he said.

Walchek added that while there are future plans for the platform to extend its on-demand services beyond the insurance industry, it is one market that he believes needs a push in technology adoption.

"The insurance world is the laggard in the disruption of the financial services world. Its experience is a bit of existential risk as they look forward to this generation that live their lives on a smartphone, and has the ultimate control. The relationship between insurer and user is very strained historically and it's because the user experience has been so dismal," he said.

This will mark Suncorp Group's first partnership with a fintech to roll out an application as part of its core business, according to the company's customer platforms CEO Gary Dransfield, who acknowledged the Trov team for their "disruptive and innovative" skills and noted the company would consider partnering with more fintechs going forward.

"We very much see there are innovative organisations that can think differently compared to businesses that might think more traditionally. We'll certainly look to partner with organisations that can help accelerate change, and ultimately it's driven by our need and desire to deliver better customer propositions," he said.

Dransfield said that while there is an underlying aim to target millennial customers, the partnership is expected to help improve the overall customer experience in the insurance market -- something that has not been previously addressed before.

"While Australia has been very advanced in a very long time in terms of selling insurance direct to customers, a lot of the rest of the world insurance is distributed by brokers and agents. We recognise the way insurance buyers and customers are going to want to interact in the future is going to be very different to how it is today, even though we're pretty good through digital contact centre and multinational distribution," he said.

"Particularly, mobile capabilities mean people are going to be much more demanding about customer experience ... and insurance is often considered as a grudge purchase, and if there is a way to deal with that grudge less painfully and more easily then we can see it happening in this industry."

Trov is expected to launch in the UK later this year in partnership with AXA, and in the US in 2017, and plans to expect to extend insurance coverage to other items later in the year.

The launch comes after Trov last month secured $25.5 million in a Series C funding round led by Oak HC/FT, bringing total funding to $30 million. Other investors in the funding round included Suncorp Group, insurance technology provider Guidewire, and existing investor Anthemis.