May 22, 2019

How Verizon Ventures’ investment in VOOM will insure the micro-mobility generation

With the micro-mobility movement on the rise, a new market has emerged to help with the changing needs for e-scooters, private planes, drones and more. Insurance.

Today, Verizon Ventures is proud to announce its additional investment in VOOM, formerly known as SkyWatch, the first on-demand telematics-based insurance for specialized mobility - from private planes and e-scooters to drones.

Here’s a Q&A with co-founder and CEO Tomer Kashi - the mastermind behind SkyWatch & VOOM. 

What is the inspiration behind VOOM? Why now?

VOOM has an interesting creation story. Our company first created SkyWatch, which was a first-of-its-kind, on-demand, telemetry-driven insurtech solution for the emerging drone industry. With SkyWatch, we provided drone pilots a very flexible and affordable solution that enabled them to decrease their premiums significantly.

The immediate traction of SkyWatch motivated us to further explore and ask questions. Why stop with drones? The platform we've created can be applied to all things mobility, be it e-scooters, private planes, jet skis, or motorcycles – all of which lack adequate insurance models.

All of these markets face the same problem: users are not receiving insurance solutions suitable for their needs. Today, solutions in these markets offer what we regard as a rigid, typically overpriced, annual premium, regardless of their actual risk profile. In some cases, insurance options just don’t exist.

With VOOM, we'll provide insurance for anything a user can ride, fly, or sail. The sky is not the limit!

How do you see VOOM furthering the insurance model for specialized mobility?

The specialized mobility insurance market is often overlooked by major insurance providers and suffers from old-fashioned insurance methods that don't meet today's customer requirements.

The micro-mobility market – like e-scooters and e-bikes – is expanding rapidly. Rising startups are raising billions in capital - yet an adequate insurance product for their riders is not available.

Meanwhile, other types of mobility products such as boats or light aircrafts do have insurance - yet it is typically a flat-rate, one-size-fits-all policy. This system is not ideal, taking into account the nature of usage, which tends to be episodic for most users.

Although there’s room for innovation in these markets, traditional insurance companies, which focus mostly on home and personal auto, seem to us either to be overlooking these opportunities or are being slow to adapt. While the industry has struggled to cater to these specialty markets effectively, we saw a massive opportunity to develop an innovative solution.

With VOOM’s insurtech software stack, on-demand, risk-based, insurance products are tailored to an exact customer’s needs.

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Talk to us about technology. What's new that's changing the game?

VOOM is taking care of the entire value chain - from risk analysis to policy management and even distribution. This is a win/win for end-users and insurance carrier partners alike.

To analyze risks, we use vehicle telemetry and external data such as weather forecasts, traffic density and more, creating a unique “Safety Score” for each use case. Next, our born-in-the-cloud insurance policy management system uses this “Safety Score” to create an insurance quote that is adequate to the exact risk. The result is safer users paying less for their premiums. Last, VOOM is in charge of the distribution, where end-users can book insurance "on the go" from almost any device.

Can you explain the relationship between VOOM and SkyWatch, and how have you navigated this as an entrepreneur?

VOOM is a natural expansion of SkyWatch. As we expand on VOOM, we will continue to develop SkyWatch and will invest a lot more in the technology. SkyWatch will live under the VOOM umbrella and our customers will still be able to use the SkyWatch mobile app and the SkyWatch website.

Since we are now expanding "beyond the air" to provide insurance for vehicles on the ground or at sea, we felt compelled to create a more appropriate brand name that encapsulates all of the new product lines. Hence VOOM, insurance on the move.

As differentiated insurance needs for the micro-mobility movement grow, how is VOOM specifically addressing these needs in 2019 and beyond?

Although e-scooters and e-bikes are amazing new modes of transportation (I'm an avid rider myself), they are risky, with doctors reporting injuries every week. With rising use cases, the insurance industry is struggling to keep pace. Micromobility related accidents are not covered by home, or auto standard insurance and current healthcare plans are typically not enough, especially when it comes to third-party liability claims. VOOM is building a per-ride insurance product for e-scooters dedicated to the specific needs of users.

What else should we know about VOOM's goal and vision?

We started as a small, yet motivated and dedicated team, and I’d like to keep this culture as we grow. I believe this spirit is at the core of what has helped us succeed and provide great products and service to our clients, as well as a great value to our technology partners and insurance companies.

Tags: drones , UAVs , Skywatch , VOOM , funding news , mobility