Eric Schuh
Insurtechfive | Eric Schuh

Eric Schuh

Deputy CEO and COO of ELEMENT Insurance

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Who are you and what do you do?

Deputy CEO and COO of ELEMENT Insurance. I am a happily married father of two boys, had the privilege of living in many inspiring places around the world, and working at great companies in insurance and banking over the past 20 years. I truly hope that the world stays open to us moving around and mingling with each other. I like to be part of something that is building, professionalizing, and growing into the business of the future.

1. What was the journey that brought you to your current role?

Prior to joining ELEMENT, I worked at Swiss Re in various executive roles across the reinsurance business in Asia and Europe and also in the finance team, altogether for almost 13 years. Before that, I worked at DEPFA Bank in London and Hannover Re in Germany as head of investor relations and head of corporate communications. Prior to that I was an equity analyst for insurance stocks at JPMorgan in London.

I decided to join ELEMENT because I believe in the future of insurance being digital, customer-centric, and in seamlessly integrated products and solutions – and scalable so. We are a fully licensed B2B partner for insurers, reinsurers, banks, OEMs, and any businesses who want to embed insurance into their value proposition and grow this business proposition.

2. How do you get things done?

That of course depends on what it is. We are almost 120 colleagues at ELEMENT, this means we are working as a team. ELEMENT’s value proposition is well-defined: we are focused on our client needs on this journey into the future of our industry. I believe in working together on a common purpose and that such collaboration does not end at a company’s own four walls. It is my understanding that collaboration is necessary to drive innovation and should happen much more openly and frequently.

Creating such a joint movement towards a worthwhile and sustainable goal and making progress accountable with financial and other targets is how I typically operate. I want to create win-win situations! In insurance, in particular, many risks are not insured today or not in an optimal way yet. There is plenty of room for growth and development. Therefore, it is helpful to measure innovation in insurance not too differently against innovation in other businesses. Delivery is what counts! It just requires realism to aim for a workable mix between here and now and the future: some things take time, others not.

3. Who are your role models and why?

I take inspiration from many people and things and tend to end a day with energy, not depleted of it. Role models do not typically sit in high places, but tend to be around us, we just need to look for them and allow us to be inspired. What really moves my needle is to see a growth mindset in people and fearless, non-political behavior.

I enjoy seeing and working alongside those who allow things to happen and create dynamism and speed while delivering on their targets – I like to be in business, not R&D – and inspiring others. Those are typically also leaders and colleagues who do not fear hiring and working together with inspiring talents who might grow fast and challenge them over time.

4. What’s the one secret about your field or industry you wish everyone knew?

There is more innovation going on at the moment than almost everyone outside the industry would believe. And that “InsurTech” really means “the best of both worlds in balance”, that is our purpose, and not “replacing insurance with technology”.

We, as an industry, are working on the future of insurance for the next decades to come. We live in technology-driven times, but we also live in volatile times that need the safety and stability of insurance. So, we truly need a lot of insurance solutions and a lot of technology, accepted and driven from established players and growing InsurTechs like ELEMENT.

5. What are your predictions for the industry for the next few years?

We will see a lot of changes during the next one, two decades. On the one hand business models of insurers will become more flexible and on the other hand customers will gain more knowledge about their personal and corporate insurance products and care more about when, where and why they are insured against certain risks.

I also think that we will see a change in when and where insurance products will be sold and bought; hence, the next decade in insurance will continue to see powerful standalone insurance products, but also will be coined by contextual and embedded solutions for individual needs of customers, this being individuals, groups and companies alike. I sometimes feel that some market participants fear technology, but technology will continue to lead to economic growth, as it has over the last decades and centuries.

The automobile was technology at the beginning and it is the biggest line of business in P&C world-wide now, with annual premiums of approximately 800 Billion US Dollars. That is more than some countries’ GDP. With economic growth, the continued progress of human knowledge, and the accumulation of capital there will be more human, physical, and digital assets that need to be insured.

I predict that e.g., cyber and business interruption will be big growth areas, alongside parametric solutions.

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