Cover-More Group, a global specialist travel insurance and medical assistance provider has acquired a majority stake in data analytics company, FitSense, a spin-off enterprise from the National University of Singapore (NUS). FitSense’s core capability is about leveraging health and fitness data from mobile apps and connected devices to support highly customised insurance products.
The FitSense technology 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.
According to Cover-More Group Chief Executive Officer, Mike Emmett, the FitSense technology is impressive and the end result has benefits for both customers and insurance providers.
“Cover-More continues to look for ways to proactively transform our business for our customers, to focus on them as individuals and deliver products that reflect their individuality. And FitSense’s technology enables us to deliver highly customised and highly optimised insurance solutions in real time,” Mike Emmett said.
He said that FitSense would operate as a standalone entity within Cover-More Group and would work with other insurers where it made commercial sense to do so.
According to Jan-Philipp Kruip, co-founder and CEO of FitSense, the 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,” Jan-Philipp Kruip said.
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.
Jan-Philipp Kruip said that the partnership with Cover-More came an opportune time for FitSense. “This provides us with an injection of funds, to allow us to scale our business and continue to innovate our product development,” he said.
FitSense is relocating from Singapore to their new base in Sydney, Australia.
FitSense’s entrepreneurial journey
FitSense’s data aggregation technology was first developed at the NUS School of Computing by a team including research engineer Alvaro Gauterin. Alvaro 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, Alvaro teamed up with Jan-Philipp 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.