The InsureTech Geek Episode 38: Movement Intelligence with Dr. Nan-Wei Gong from Figur8
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The InsureTech Geek podcast powered by JBKnowledge is all about technology that is transforming and disrupting the insurance world. We will be interviewing guests and doing deep dives with the specific technologies we see changing the industry. We are taking you on a journey through insurance tech, so enjoy the ride and geek out!
JAMES: I cannot believe I am saying this. As we record this today, it is Friday, October 23rd. We are within two months of the nuttiest year of my 41 years on this planet being over. That is right. 2020 is only two months from being over and I think I am not the only person who is moderately excited about that. Do you know what I mean? Oh yes. The studio audience is really excited too. They are like, yes, we are ready for 2020 to be absolutely and completely over. I do not know. Rob Galbraith, the most interesting man in insurance. What is going on, dude?
ROB: Not a whole lot. Definitely counting down the end to 2020. I do not know if I told you and the listeners before, but my wife convinced me this year to put up a political sign with the election coming up. So, we do not have the presidential candidates or the senatorial candidates here in Texas. It actually says: “Giant Meteor 2020 Just End It Already”.
JAMES: Because the giant meteor would win. It is going to come. It is going to win. Literally. It would be a landslide. You set me up good for that one. I am a sucker for dad jokes, Rob. You seem to be a source for dad jokes, and I will accept that.
ROB: Yes, unfortunately. Guilty as charged.
JAMES: I do a couple of podcasts. I had another guest from Boston today. On the wicked awesome Friday of podcasting, I have got with us, another Bostonian, another wicked smart person. Just to give you an idea of how smart, Masters in Ph.D. from MIT Media Lab. If you do not know about Media Lab, then get informed quickly because it produces some absolutely amazing products and people and ideas. Nan-Wei, so nice to have you on the show.
NAN-WEI: Thank you for having me.
JAMES: And we are going to have all kinds of good conversations with you in a minute. We are going to talk all about you. Before we do, a reminder out there. We are streaming this video on Twitter and Facebook and posting it on Vimeo, we put it out on LinkedIn. If you are one of those that are watching it on video, you can subscribe by texting GeekOut to 66866. Make sure you never miss an episode. We will email you and we will let you know about the episode. We will send you the show notes and links to the articles. And we do transcription and all kinds of fun things that help you get through this awesome content that we have put together. Now, this is fun. 38 episodes of this, and we have gotten to talk with some amazing people. This week is absolutely no exception. Nan-Wei Gong from FIGUR8. Before we jump in and talk about this company that you are the CEO and co-founder of, I want to talk about you for a second. You have an interesting background, and it is always worth talking about the people behind the ideas. Because you can talk about companies and ideas, but at the end of the day, there are people behind all this. And you are one of those people. I believe you said you are from Taiwan and you did your undergraduate there. Growing up as a kiddo in Taiwan, what did you think you wanted to do and what led you into material science and engineering?
NAN-WEI: I always thought I would go on Broadway and become a performer.
JAMES: Nice. Okay. What is your favorite Broadway musical?
JAMES: Rent. 525,600 Minutes, right?
NAN-WEI: Exactly. Why do you think I have all of the audio equipment at home?
JAMES: Where are the TikTok videos? Oh, wait, hold on. Are there videos online of you singing Broadway?
JAMES: Yes, there are.
ROB: Oh wow! Nuggets. Breadcrumbs for the audience.
JAMES: If you are a Facebook friend with me, I have started posting some of my guitar and singing videos just cause I finally was ready to share my music with the world.
NAN-WEI: Exactly. That is a big step to share your own music. The first time I pitched you a VC to fund the company, I felt like a true performer.
JAMES: I will be honest. I have been playing the piano and singing since I was eight. I just started with the guitar this year, but it is personal. I like to sing for myself. I like to play my own songs. I go camping every month with a group of dads and kids and they insisted this month that I bring the guitar, and I got to play there, and that was a nice small setting. But, putting it on the internet is raw. It is like oh my gosh. There is a lot of people that are doing this.
Rent is a great musical. The Rent of today is Alexander Hamilton. My 13-year-old; is completely obsessed with Hamilton. I took her to her first performance of it in Chicago last year and loved it. It is always good to hear the passions people have. You are super into Broadway. You wanted to be on Broadway. What crushed your Broadway dreams and pushed you into material science and engineering?
NAN-WEI: You know if you will make it or not when you are about 14 years old, right?
NAN-WEI: So that happened.
JAMES: You are like, wait, maybe I am not supposed to be the lead on Broadway.
NAN-WEI: It is like I am very good at math.
JAMES: You are like, I need to go into math. Okay so you go in and you are studying at National Tsing Hua University. And you are studying engineering and you jumped straight from there to MIT. Just help me understand that. You are in Taiwan, obviously, MIT is one of the leading institutions in the world. I know that is how you knew about it, but what was the jump there? What was that like?
NAN-WEI: Really scary because when I applied for school, I did not know I would get in. I applied because we were designing sensors, like materials. You can have material that has sensors. I was interning in the physical lab and they were building detectors for dark matters, in a high energy physics lab. And I am like, all right, we build sensors, we build detectors, how do I combine that with my personal passion that is music? So maybe if I cannot be on Broadway, I can be a tech off–Broadway to produce music. There is this program called the Media Lab and they can design sensors and music instruments, music controllers, and synthesizers. So, I am like, all right, I want to do that. I literally changed my field into that and focused more on the electrical engineering side since.
JAMES: For those of you who are not familiar with MIT Media Lab, you could run through a list of all the different tech that has been commercialized out of MIT Media Lab. Q Sensor, Clocky, Guitar Hero, ThingMagic, Mercury RFID Readers, Tangible IP Network Designer, Symphony Painter, which was developed by Fisher-Price for the Pixter Color System. Hyperscore, IBM WebFountain, Karaoke-on-Demand Machine, Sourcemap, Audio Spotlight, Photomosaics. It does a memory prosthetics. There is another one, that was a by a spinoff, reQall. Computer Clubhouse Network by Intel. Open Mind Common Sense. It just keeps going on. LEGO MINDSTORMS, if you did not know about that one. Number two is Guitar Hero. Number one, Amazon Kindle, Sony e-Reader, Barnes & Noble Nook. They all use Electronic Ink that was developed at the Media Lab. The Scratch programming language that I taught my kids when they were younger, that is in the MIT Media Lab too. The XO laptop. That was part of OLPC One Laptop Per Child. Pretty impressive program. You did two degrees there. What was your Ph.D. study in?
NAN-WEI: It was about how do you design printable sensors, printable electronics, so you can print with an inkjet printer and use ink to create circuitries and sensors.
JAMES: And it requires a specific type of ink, to be used.
NAN-WEI: Yes, special ink for normal printers.
JAMES: Normal printer, special ink, the ink conducts electricity so it has a capacitive function and serves as a circuit. Does it work?
JAMES: What major tech are we using right now that uses printable sensors?
NAN-WEI: A lot comes from flexible circuits. For example, the foldable phones that you see, that are flexible circuitry. There is a lot of disposable things. They have security tags, like with RFID tags in circuitry, when you open something, and they know it is been opened. There is a lot of different applications. But mostly, is how do you create a very low cost, large volume circuitries as opposed to making a purchase circuit board and that is one thing. High volume, packaging materials, inside a credit card, they are printed. Just a lot of different applications.
JAMES: We have some obvious applications inside of insurance. Rob has a really great question to kind of the origin story, so Rob why do not you take that away?
ROB: It is good to have you on way Nan-Wei. Why do not you just tell us a little from the time you got your Ph.D. You had a couple of other startups and successful exits and then you started FIGUR8. Just walk us through your work history, and particularly now at FIGUR8. What do you do? What is your purpose and what brings you to the insurance industry? We know all these wonderful things about you, but not necessarily obvious for the insurance space. So, just give us your work life. What is it that you do?
NAN-WEI: It is all about sensing how do you create new sensor technology for different applications. It starts from really technical ones, like my first startup experience, it is called 3dim Tech. We started it as students. We won the MIT 100 K competition, which is an entrepreneurial competition, from the university. That was a big push for me to want to start my own business and pushing technology to the market. That is the whole exercise. We are 3D gestural sensing technology, and eventually, it was acquired by Google and after that, they have acquired Nest. It is just a technology that you can see where the fingertips are. Then I started thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. I started a consulting group, where we help big companies, taking their research project into production. If it is Google or Microsoft if there is a research idea that is been done once as a prototype, how do you design it? With what technology? And how do you scale up? I did that for three, four years, and then I wanted to start a company to solve my personal problems. Which is on top of the music playing, I also run a lot. I am a college athlete. The bar where I am from is a lot slower than the college athletes here.
I run a lot. I have back pain. You always go to a doctor and everyone tells you a little different information. I come from a group where we are the pioneer of wearable sensors. At MIT, we started doing this from the ’90s and we work a lot with sports science doctors, especially the Red Sox, Massachusetts General Hospital. And seeing what is the latest technology that they can use for Tom Brady for example, and then compare it with the treatment from that Nan-Wei would get. Tom Brady gets the fancy, biomechanics sports science lab analysis, to understand why he has miner shoulder pain, for example. But we get hands–on a visual assessment. If you want to put things into perspective, the way muscular–skeletal injuries are being measured today, with hands–on and visual assessment, is basically the same as using your hand to measure the temperature of a patient. Like pre thermometer.
Do you have a fever, or do I have cold hands? Unclear. That hit me. We do have the technology, that normally costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to set up in a lab. It is commonly used in Hollywood for making 3D movies. But you cannot get the same accuracy with anything just off the shelf. I can develop it. I know how to do it. And I know who needs it. It starts from elite athletes, but the performance optimization, or to return to sports analysis. They want to know if you should go back to the field or not. Because the money is in the field, not on the bench. I saw the demand and we started the company and we realized quickly to scale up, we need to find different injury categories that can reach the masses and have large scale adoption.
The way we are looking at it and saying hey, who has the most to lose in these types of injury management. Apparently, an insurance company has the most to lose in injury management. MSK is such a big category. $1 trillion spent every year, 30% of us as has some kind of condition. We started a company, build the full biomechanics mapping with our sensors and now we are ready to just build applications on top of different types of injuries to help, not only doctors but also insurers to understand how to manage these injury claims.
ROB: The journey is amazingly fascinating, but actually it makes a lot of sense how you intersect.
NAN-WEI: Because that is the thinking process is, if you are a doctor, the way you think about the solution would be different from an engineer. My cofounder and the initial team members are all engineering background. We think about it as, how do we see it from a data perspective? How do we generalize an injury with different biomarkers? That is not how a physician would be trained. We designed a new medical device for them; and it is useful for them, but it cannot be created by a doctor.
ROB: James, I know you want to geek out a little bit and understand the tech more.
JAMES: Sure. Absolutely. I love your analogy; this is like putting your hand to someone’s forehead. Modern medicine is just not so modern sometimes. We had this big round of advancement. We had decades of run-up and it got really good. And then I feel like we just plateaued in many areas. In particular, now that you have wearable, flexible printable sensors. You have this confluence of technology, and certainly, 5G networks are helpful too because it makes it a little easier theoretically, to get data off those sensors anywhere you have them, right? So, you have this confluence of technologies that are coming together, and it allows us to stop doing so much guessing. The entire insurance industry is a guessing game. We do not have to do so much guessing anymore. Is that the premise? You have a lot of different applications that your company can chase down. You can go after anything. You could just go after sports and never come out of that rabbit hole. You could just do sports and athletics, but it is obviously not enough. We have to tackle it. And there are two big areas that we were talking about before the show of work comp and auto. Help me understand your view on how this technology really radically transforms the guessing game that we are in, in work comp and auto, and other insurance segments.
NAN-WEI: Right now, a lot of the mild MSK injury is such a big category for these P&C insurers, because it is impossible to measure. I want to take whiplash as an example. Whiplash, there are four different categories normally. That is the standard. Mild whiplash is a category level one and level two. What does it mean? There is a set of guidelines, but if the same patient sees two doctors, they will tell you something different about the levels. There are studies about this. Level one and level two essentially are lumped together as a mild whiplash. But the per diem payment can be different. It times the time for you to close the claim. It is tens of thousands of dollars. And with some of the customers, we started to interview them. What I did not know initially when we started is a lot of the percentage of claims are mild. And when we look at the data, 95% of the whiplash claims are mild. On average, like $3,000-$4,000 to pay for those claims in the per diem payment.
Then at the second question I asked is, tell me, medically speaking, if we take an MRI every week, how many days it would take for whiplash to recover? And how many days are you seeing Reclaim data? The doctor says it should take less than 20 days. We interviewed so many different doctors. Everyone agrees. Less than 20 days. But when we look at the claim data, it can go up to 90 days. It is almost like the patients or the lawyers Googled it and they all decided that three months is the mark when everything just magically heals. That is the discrepancy and that is the billions of dollars that insurers are losing. Our tool allows the insurer, the provider, and the patient to really have more transparency, have information on the recovery. Because there are only two scenarios if you are not recovering. One is, you are healed. Congratulations. You have recovered from your injury.
The second reason for your data to have no change is that, well, maybe you are not being treated properly, so let us change the treatment plan. But then if after another two weeks, it is not making any progress, it could be a preexisting condition. Then they would just close the claim and give you a lump sum payment and say, here is how we are going to close the claim. I am sorry, this happened to you. Can we just close the claim right here? There is no change in the data. Right now, there is no such information to give insurers this type of input. Everyone is magically healing at the three months mark when it could be between 20 to 45 days. That is the first problem that we see we can solve immediately by showing accurate MSK injury data, and show trend. Once we get all that information, then another gold mine is, can we decide the level of injury in the more granularity? Because right now it is level one and level two. If there are 10 levels in between then the insurance adjudication can be a lot more sophisticated than right now, it is just a bucket here and a bucket there. Eventually, we will be able to decide if you actually have the injury or not.
JAMES: Something that I have found that is frustrating for some in the sensor space is that we can measure a lot of things that do not help us determine outcomes. And then even if you are measuring it and you think it determines an outcome, (something I say a lot in my speeches, correlation versus causality) do not assume correlation equals causality. You could correlate that this movement, but you do not know, you have to analyze it. You are a hardware person. I come from the software world, you come from the hardware world, but this requires a lot of software to be written to actually perform the analysis and really determine causality, right?
JAMES: What is that journey been like to really understanding causality? Help me understand. Give me a little geekier description of how this is working. How are you measuring the movement? Are you measuring force speed and angle?
NAN-WEI: First we build a wearable sensor system, and the way we create a system is very similar to how kinesiology works. If you have seen Kinesio tape for athletes, where they will give you a handbook in different segments of the body. This is how you attach it to your body. I have a sensor right here.
JAMES: Oh, yay. Show and tell. If you are not on video, you can watch this video. Let us see it.
NAN-WEI: It looks like this. It is kind of like the Kinesio tape, you can put it on different segments of your body. But what it does is there are two components. It is a sensor fusion solution. The singles ones tell how you move in 3D, and it has a Knight axis IMU, and we have another one that combines the muscle activity with 3D movement, which allows us to calculate the joint angle when you have a network, but also how your soft tissue is moving. The problem with MSK injury is that you cannot release it with a camera easily, because the injury most likely happens on soft tissues. That is your muscle fatigue. That is your muscle weakness and muscle atrophy. Your muscle twitch reflexes. What we did is we created a few more bio–mechanic models, compared to joint by joint muscle by muscle group, with the standard tool that people use in the fancy lab. And now it is an application that allows us to collect all of the biomarkers for an injury. I will give you an example. I started the journey, understanding orthopedics, doctors, and how they evaluate injuries with an ACL injury. I do not know if you guys are familiar with an ACL injury, but it is when you hear your knee pop.
What happens is you go to a doctor and if they do not have a lab or an MRI, what they do is they will lift your knee, push it in, and if you feel an endpoint, that means your ligaments are still there. But if there is no endpoint, that means, well, it is not there anymore. That is level two. It is unstable and there is an endpoint, it is level one. If it is very stable, it is zero. That is what you can tell from the hands-on assessment and the scoring system. That is zero one, two. But if you are in a biomechanics lab, what they do know, is, if you do have an ACL tear, when you move in a deep squat, when your knee angle is about 30°, the frontal knee angle, because the way our hips are constructed, the hip is not a straight joint. It is a triangle. It is complex. When you squat, when you push your body, the lower your body, your knee will just move left and right. It is called the frontal angle movement. You cannot see with your eyes, but you can see it very clearly with the high-speed camera with high angle accuracy. That is a biomarker. The biomarker for an ACL tear is how much frontal plane movement during a dynamic movement, like a deep squat, and that can tell you exactly what the risk of injury or level of injury is. That is one example.
Whiplash, for example, we can tell if you do have this type of muscle damage, we compare the good side with the bad side and know what the level of injury is. And the most important part is we ask you to do the same movement in 3D, and we can identify in three–dimension when the pain occurs, and correlate that movement with your muscle activities. You can track that movement longitudinally. That is how a doctor would use their eyes and experience to quantify and say, yes, right there. See your range of motion regained and your muscle is less swollen. Today we are using words. And it is words to describe a condition, but, with our sensors system, in our analytics platform, we can show trends and show very accurate results that normally you cannot see with your eyes. The last thing that is very cool that we noticed is that we can quantify muscle reflex, and that is something that is a physiological response to a reflex hammer that you cannot even fake.
JAMES: Yes. I had some pretty bad injuries in the last few years. I did a partial tear on both Achilles. I fractured my spine. I fractured my tailbone off. That was a fun one. I am not spineless, but I am less spine. Cause I literally have had the 4th vertebra removed and the 5th one was shaped into a makeshift tailbone. I have spent a lot of time at physical therapists. And I say this to say, it is such a soft science, pun intended because there is so much soft tissue there. There is so much soft tissue analysis. I have had a lot of ultrasounds because the ultrasounds help you understand the soft tissue injuries. Both ankles, both knees, tailbone, multiple times. There is so much non-use of data. It is so subjective. What you are talking about is fundamentally overhauling the assessment and treatment of all soft tissue and MSK injuries. This is radical for the medical community. You are having to go to the AMA, you are having to go to all the ortho boards. There is a big uphill battle on this, right?
NAN-WEI: There are many CPT codes, existing ones that allow us to use to run evaluation with the tool. It is just people who do not use it very often because there are not a lot of tools that are out there. And, in the COVID world, there are all these remote patient monitoring codes that you would like to clinician and can use help you set it up at home through telemedicine and that is a trend. 100%. That is in the healthcare world that we see a lot of opportunities. In the non-health insurance world, P&C, it is a measurement tool. We can even link that to a medical condition and say, look, we want to have a pre–employment assessment or return to work evaluation that has nothing to do with your medical condition, but rather this is the job description. We see that as an interesting opportunity because the test takes less than 10 minutes from start to finish and you get the score, and you can highlight all the areas that have potential injury risks.
NAN-WEI: And that is just like fitness for duty. It is a test.
JAMES: Wow. Yes. You make it sound so easy when you say that. I just wonder about adoption. Rob, please take it away.
ROB: Yes, I am with you, James. Fortunately, Nan-Wei and I have met a couple of times and she has told me about the FIGUR8, the technology, how it works, the potential applications, and it is one of those that is a bit mind–bending when you are trying to think about it. I know Nan-Wei, you have talked about that evaluation. And for any of us that are sports fans, particularly we are in the middle of football season. I know my Michigan States Pardons play for the first time this weekend.
JAMES: It is about time!
ROB: They are doing pretty well James. We hear about this athlete blew out their knee, and that could be a winning season or losing season to your point earlier, Nan-Wei. There is so much money involved, particularly in pro sports, of course. For you to be able to actually evaluate a knee ahead of time and see that knee is about to go, not gone. But even kind of proactive and you can measure that. Then you think about physical therapy and you talk about the impact of physical therapy and is it working or is it not, and are you back at your full range of motion? So, you do not necessarily need physical therapy for eight weeks, if after the first four weeks you see, there has not been an improvement for the last two weeks or you are at your full range of motion already. It is cool that there is this kind of sports science part of it that there is just a wide range. You talked about whiplash, you talked about worker’s comp, obviously health insurance.
Many years ago, my first wife and I were involved in a very low–speed collision with a car. We were in our 20’s at the time and we hit a couple that I thought at the time we‘re older, mid-40’s. That is where I am at now. And it was a minor fender–bender. It was one of those where you take pictures and, no big deal, no scrapes. And we did not call the police out or anything like that. Well then, later on, they claim that they sustained head and neck injuries, whiplash. And we were just stunned. We were disbelieving because it was such a low–speed impact. It was basically coming up on the spot at the stop sign just touching. And if we would have taken photos, this is pre smartphones. I am dating myself a little bit. I think today, you just take a quick picture, right? The damage to the cars.
But so, we were trying to describe what happened to the insurance adjusters and ultimately, our insurance company settled for $7,000. It was one of those, like, hey, it is worth it to have the nuisance to go away. And at that time; it was opened for almost two years back and forth. To have a device like this, to be able to measure and quantify whether they truly had or not. I know we felt very taken advantage of, we were mad. We both worked at an auto insurer at the time, so it was personal for us. It was not just about the cost. Nan-Wei, so talk about driving adoption, obviously from a medical communicating, educating doctors and physical therapy labs and others, but I think, and correct me if I am wrong, you have said in the past one of the ways that the insurance industry you can drive adoption is by requiring these tests or requesting these tests. Use your device to be able to quantify these things and to say, I need the measurement from the FIGUR8 device so that I know what the range of motion is. I do not need your subjective. This is actually a requirement of the process of my claim that you must fill out to get approval for surgery or additional physical therapy. Maybe you can talk a little bit more about how you were seeing and hope to see the insurance industry drive adoption in the medical community of your technology.
NAN-WEI: We are already live in three hospitals working with insurance companies. It is a mass test. We are starting with a few hospitals. We are submitting the claims with these data. And the goal is if we have 1000 cases and we can see that we can reduce the per diem time by what they think they could reduce, which is 41.2% of the claim payment. That is not pocket change. That is where we are. We are in life in a few hospitals and specifically collecting data on mild whiplash patients. Once we finished a large patient study and proved 41.9% of the time per diem payment can be saved, I doubt if that would be a problem for us to drive adoption for other insurance companies. And what is so interesting about auto insurance is that, since normally there are multiple parties involved with different insurance companies, there is no reason for an insurance company to want this to become a secret exclusive offering because you actually want everyone to have it. The way for everyone to save money is to agree that this is an industry-standard. And if I submit my claim this way, please, your company should submit your claims this way. Because it is a win-win situation. If it is disability insurance you can say okay, I can reduce your premium if you have low–risk workers, then I am a more competitive disability or worker’s comp insurance company because I am cheaper. But for auto is different because liability is not necessarily coming from your customer.
ROB: I think that a pre–employment check, from a work comp perspective, is fascinating as well. You mentioned preexisting conditions earlier. If a worker already does not have a full range of motion due to prior injuries or whatnot. If we hire James today, right, and we know that he is missing the 4th vertebrae or whatever…
NAN-WEI: Less spine. Less spine.
ROB: We would want to know that as we hire him to say, hey, this stuff already happened to him so we are not asking him to lift 50 pounds and put boxes overhead or whatever if he throws out his back and start saying, it is because of the job. And we will know, we will already have captured baseline data, range of motion.
JAMES: Awesome. This has been an interesting conversation. I wish we could keep talking, but we do have to just go to our news and wrap up, but, fascinating, technology. I am excited about it. As someone who has had to endure a lot of exams and a lot of measurement of accidents, I have had whiplash as well when I was a kid that I had to deal with, and it took me months to recover from that. It was not a quick recovery. I am a fan of anything that can get the worker back to work quickly and back to full function and use of their body. And so, we can stop using subjective phrases to measure objective things. That is where you drive this home. I love the idea and I love where your brain’s at. I am excited to hear more from you in the future. And thank you so much. Rob. I know you have got a couple of news stories before I talk about mine. I would love to hear about yours.
ROB: I have got a couple for you guys this week. Probably the biggest news story that came out this week is, Root is eyeing an IPO on the NASDAQ. This article was from Reuters saying, they are eyeing a $6.3 billion valuation. Definitely, yes. Billions. Hats off to them. They are planning to list on NASDAQ. The IPO parade continues to, obviously, start with Lemonade over the summer. The market remains red hot. We have talked about this before, from an InsureTech perspective. We all want to honestly see the success to these companies, regardless of whether you have planned to buy the stock or support the stock. But it is definitely healthy for the marketplace. It is great to see. Congratulations to the team at Root.
Sometimes James and Nan-Wei, these come across your desk and they are just News of the Weird or Stupid Criminals, or however you want to classify it. This says Former Cyberfraud prevention Firm, CEO Arrested for Fraud. Adam Rogas was the former head of cyber fraud prevention company NS8, not FIGUR8, but NS8, charged in Manhattan federal court with three kinds of fraud. $123 million fundraising scam. Again, a bit of a clickbait, I guess, this week in our news, but I definitely encourage folks to check in on that. Nan-Wei I wanted to quickly on the fraud subject, we have talked about all the different applications. But I assume, fraud prevention is actually one of the benefits of your technology because it will show if somebody like James actually has whiplash or not, instead of and denying and having to appeal. Being able to separate who legitimately needs help versus which may be potentially fraudulent claims.
NAN-WEI: If you just think about it, the self-selection process before the data actually takes effect. Self-selection, it is like we have a test, please do not lie.
ROB: Absolutely. Back over to you James.
JAMES: Awesome. Some more funding news, Insurtech Bind. Again, this is from Business Insider six hours ago, Insurtech Bind, Bind bagged $105 million to accelerate its expansion into employer-sponsored insurance. This is another low–cost InsureTech that is going after the market. They are using the money to expand their fully insured offering to over 30 States by the end of 2021. They are tackling health insurance. Health insurance is not an area I like to cover. Cause life and health is certainly not an area that I work in. I am a P&C guy myself, but it is always interesting to see what is happening over there because it certainly impacts anybody who is over in comp. I always look at that and go, okay, how does this impact comp? That is interesting and funny. You can check that out. Bind says their business grew 8X in the past year alone. Their goal is to rebuild health insurance, make it more intuitive and affordable. They have $0 deductibles or zero co-insurance, in–app tools to see what is covered in a doctor’s visit before making an appointment. Imagine that transparency in medicine. Kind of what you are going for Nan-Wei.
AN-WEI: Yep. Definitely that.
JAMES: That is like one of my chief complaints in general, about the health industry. It is the only industry I work with as a vendor of mine where they cannot tell me what it is going to cost beforehand. They do not know how long it is going to take. They do not know their pricing and it is a crapshoot.
NAN-WEI: Quick question, just to piggyback on that one. When there is an auto insurance claim about a whiplash for example, as a customer who had whiplash in the past, I do not have transparency on how the insurance adjudication works. For an insurance company, these casualty claims, I wonder if that is also a big problem from the customer’s side, to get more like this is a level of injury, for example, and this is how the claim is being calculated. I just magically received the check at some point in life.
JAMES: Hmm, not complaining, right?
JAMES: Awesome. Let us go to the next news story. InsurTech funding strong in 2020, despite COVID-19 disruptions. This is from a Property Casualty 360. They are talking about a list of different funding, and we have just talked about it. Some of the larger funding rounds that have been taking place this past year and also from a Property Casualty 360. InsurTech is the prescription for safety in a post-pandemic world. I love hearing about how this does help the broader industry, and certainly, moves the needle on safety. Of course, will talk about insurance being preventative instead of reactive. That is a common phrase that we talk about in a lot of our interviews is getting preventative, not being reactive. Re-imagining the world and a safer place. Just go read the article. It has a good take on how telematics and behavior–based insurance models are driving fair policy and fair pricing and safer driving. You are giving people a financial incentive to behave. Most insurance models are group rating and bulk rating and guesstimates, and there is no financial incentive. Does not matter if you do better so why would you? It is amazing how people behave as they are incentivized to behave and when you incentivize them to behave better by reducing rates and giving them premium reductions. It turns out they care.
Wow. It was an interesting study. I remember I was looking at the privatization of retirement plans because I am actually a real big advocate of privatizing. Requiring that people contribute to their own retirement plan but allowing them to choose from public funds. And the big argument is that people, and the argument against that, is commonly used that is not rooted in data at all, is that people are not emotionally ready enough to do this. It actually was done in Chile, a whole country. They privatized their retirement plan. They basically said you are required to contribute. You have to pick between one of these. I cannot remember if I think it was seven funds. You had to pick one of these seven funds, but the seven funds are all vetted and pre-approved by the government. They are private market plans that are defined contribution, not defined benefit. It mandates retirement, but it lets you pick. Well, the entire population of Chilly got so savvy at this, but they had to start passing laws about how many times a year they could reallocate their funds because everyone started caring about returns and they started caring about the retirement system.
So, they started in mass. You are talking about tens of millions of people, literally moving retirement funds in mass because they hear there are better returns and better values in other funds. So, the pundits, the naysayers were completely wrong. The population was ready to manage this. They were not incentivized before to learn about how to manage money. And then once they became incentivize, they got very savvy on it. And I think insurance is the same way. All of these technologies and your technology to Nan-Wei. You are putting data in the hands of the people who actually can take the action. At the end of the day, it turns out humans actually are capable of dealing with it. They are smart enough and they are good enough. I think they are ready for it. It is exciting to see this take place. Go check out these articles we talked about. And, certainly, side note, I do not think we reported on this Rob, but this was from October the 8th. Zebra reached a hundred million dollar run rate. I do not know if you saw that, but they just announced it two weeks ago. They are talking about stuff that really matters. Revenue. Zebra has released its financial metrics and they recorded $37 million in revenue, for 2019.
And that portion, they reached a fixed $60 million run rate by their series C, but a couple of weeks ago, they just doubled in size, which means they are at a hundred million dollar run rate. Zebra is a hot-hot-hot! Side note. Look forward to hearing about your company achieving a hundred million dollar run rate, Nan-Wei.
NAN-WEI: Same here.
JAMES: Nan-Wei Gong, just for everybody out there who wants more information on her company. The website is figur8tech.com. Nan-Wei, thank you for coming on the show.
NAN-WEI: Thank you so much for having me.
JAMES: And as always, Rob Galbraith. Thank you so much for being on the show and congratulations on your silly football conference. Finally, deciding to play some football.
ROB: I may come to regret that. I do not think we are going to have a good season, but, looking forward to that and then basketball season. It is right around the corner. That is what we pay attention to at this stage.
JAMES: But at least now you will know if you should be playing or not.
ROB: I would not have to wonder. We should have won the Big 10 championship. I know that Ohio state crushed us.
JAMES: It is the wondering, that is the worst. Nan-Wei, thank you again. Rob. Thanks, appreciate it.
As always, this has been the InsureTech Geek podcast powered by JBKnowledge. It is all about technology that is transforming and disrupting the insurance world. I have been your host, James Benham, JamesBenham.com with co-host Rob Galbraith, endofinsurance.com. Big thanks to Jim Greenlee, our Podcast Producer, Kara Dalton-Arro, our Creative Producer, and Adéle Waldeck, our Transcriptionist. Remember you can see this on the video too, on all of our social media channels. You can go watch it on Vimeo and Twitter and Facebook and check our video stream out.
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