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The Digital Insurer Startup InsurTech Award
In 2017, Hepstar was one of the top 20 start-ups handpicked by Plug and Play from over 1000 applicants globally to participate in its accelerator program, the world’s largest program of its kind. Plug and Play is the most active investment organisation in Silicon Valley, with portfolio companies including PayPal, Dropbox and Skytree.
The ability to anticipate or recommend products or services which may be relevant to or appeal to particular customers is common in modern day online retail. Whether customers know it or not, online merchandising is happening. However, this is not a common feature in travel insurance at all, which remains known for one-size-fits-all product offers. Hepstar is challenging the norm by applying a cocktail of data analytics, machine-learning and customer profiling to drive its recommendation engine and bring about the birth of travel insurance merchandising in the travel retail industry. By promoting diverse product options to serve diverse customer profiles based on relevance and probability principles, it aims to change the perceived value of insurance and stimulate demand.
With margins on airline tickets diminishing by the day, ancillaries are quickly becoming the lifeline for many travel merchants. Ancillary revenue has evolved into a $70 billion business opportunity globally over the last few years, with expectations of a further $130 billion to be unlocked by 2020 if travel merchants leverage customer insights generated by the global travel ecosystem to precisely merchandise and retail products to deliver a truly personalised and dynamic shopping experience.
Travel insurance is a key revenue driver in the ancillary space, however, it is generally neglected due to the complexities and limitations of insurance systems, regulation and a lack of innovation in product development. Most travel insurance suppliers have a similar product and technology offering and often differentiate themselves solely on a commercial level.
In an industry synonymous with a generic, one-size-fits-all travel insurance offers and diminishing conversion rates, Hepstar provides a sustainable solution to both travel merchants and travel insurance partners.
Hepstar optimises travel merchant and insurance partner revenues from travel insurance sales through personalised and targeted customer engagement using its advanced e-merchandising technology. Hepstar’s technology is driven by empirical data collected from the travel booking process, including contextual and personal profile information of customers, as well as customer behaviour in relation to products and services, which data feeds its self-learning recommendation engine to enable ongoing optimisation of revenue.
Hepstar partners with multiple global and local insurance companies across the world, aggregating the travel insurance content onto its platform. The system is completely plug and play.
In addition to Hepstar’s machine-learning and AI-focused technology stack, its unique business model enables travel merchants to blur continental lines and expand their travel insurance offering reach to all their customers, maximising revenue potential. Travel insurance is offered based on a customer’s residency, which often limits a travel merchant’s ability to maximise revenue as their insurance partner likely cannot provide a product for all their customers’ residencies. This means the travel merchant would often need to complete multiple integrations with multiple insurers to cover the majority of its customers, whereas Hepstar is providing global access through one simple integration.
On the other side of the coin, Hepstar is empowering insurers to unlock new and niche distribution channels (giving them access to new revenue streams), differentiate themselves on more than just a commercial basis and offer a more personalised service to the end customer, without the continuous development resource and investment. Sponge-like characteristics of Hepstar’s technology give underwriters access to rich data required to price accurately and control risk exposure. Being independent of any insurer allows Hepstar to achieve economies of scale through the provision of technology to multiple insurers, whereas the insurer’s cost of developing similar technology in-house may be more expensive than outsourcing - assuming the insurer is able to formulate the requirements and procure the necessary skilled developers to create such a unique platform built for such a niche purpose.
The travel insurance space is receiving a long overdue disruption, bringing an end to static product and diminishing conversion rates. Hepstar is here to address the conversion conundrum by promoting product relevance and value, changing non-buyers into buyers… not to forget maximising revenue for all parties involved.