Skip to Main Content


Jun 23, 2015

ACORD Insurance Innovation Challenge: Waking the sleeping (insurance) giant.

by Mark Westin, ACORD

When most people hear the word “insurance”, they probably don't associate the word "innovation" with it.  A common view of the insurance industry holds that it moves too slowly, the status quo stays status quo, and new ideas - even great ones - don’t always result in action. It’s a sleeping giant that keeps hitting the snooze button.

ACORD’s Insurance Innovation Challenge is a strong first step toward waking the giant.  The Challenge is possibly the first ever insurance-specific innovation competition, and last Thursday, nearly 40 companies from all points on the insurance chain, all parts of the U.S., and several countries around the globe showed up at ACORD’s Pearl River, NY headquarters armed with slide deck presentations and a desire to change the game.

"To me, innovation is doing things other people aren't doing and trying to develop ideas that people think can't be done," said David Garett, Total Objects.

"For me, innovation is looking at a problem from a different perspective and finding a solution with the least disruption," said Caleen Alexanderson, Agencyport Software.

Innovation Challenge applicants included both established companies and individuals, and their mission was simple:  Show the world your new technology that can be applied to transform the way we think about insurance.

The semi-finalists who pitched their ideas in person - and 12 additional companies who pitched ideas virtually - were selected from 100 online submissions by a panel of nine judges representing not only the insurance and technology sectors, but also venture capitalists, accelerators and incubators.  The proposed innovations ranged from water drones that can gather weather and storm data, to algorithms for mining risk data from social media, to solutions that can monitor devices in a home to receive alerts and dispatch assistance as needed. Submissions were judged on four criteria:

  • Ingenuity: How unique are the core concepts embodied in this innovation?
  • Impact: How great is the potential of this innovation to cause significant change?
  • Feasibility: How likely is this innovation to be implemented?
  • Applicability: How broad is the potential target audience?

"I would like to think that it went well," added Marcio Noguchi, Hartford Consulting Group. "I was really excited to be able to present. It's hard not to be excited because we now have an opportunity to not only present to the judges but to the entire audience at ACORD2015.

On July 1, finalists in each category will be selected to present their ideas before a live audience at the ACORD2015 event this November 2-4 in Boca Raton, Florida, where winners will be crowned.  If you’d like to hear and see the next big thing in insurance firsthand, be part of the audience at ACORD2015. Visit to register.