European insurtech is showing strength that you can’t spot if you only read the data on venture capital that’s available today. Indeed, some startups are showing strong fundamentals that will likely help them through this volatile landscape and then some. We made this point a couple weeks ago and we still stand by it.
However, it’s not all rosy for companies that put growth first back when it was sexy to reach for the skies and now find themselves in a market that favors a quick, viable and visible path to profitability.
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Case in point: French insurtech Luko, which neared insolvency before agreeing to be acquired by British insurer Admiral Group. The deal itself makes a lot of sense, but the rumored price tag — €11 million plus an additional €3 million tied to specific milestones — is raising eyebrows.
That’s because Luko had previously raised €72 million in total, aiming to build a European leader in insurtech.
Starting with digital home insurance, the company quickly set out to pursue its goal of achieving European insurtech dominance by offering a speedy onboarding process, a better customer experience than incumbents, and other nifty features. It even acquired two startups: Coya, a German company licensed as an insurer, and Unkle, a French company protecting landlords against unpaid rent.
But things didn’t turn out as well as Luko hoped. Unkle’s founder is suing Luko following his dismissal from the company after the deal, and according to reports, Admiral isn’t buying the two startups as part of its own deal. And, due to the structure of the acquisitions, Unkle’s investors might not see a dime from its €22 million takeover.
Neither Luko nor Admiral commented on the specifics or financial aspects of the deal, which is still being finalized. But they were willing to talk to TechCrunch+ about the fit between the two organizations, and to touch on some of the reasons that stopped Luko from fulfilling its journey on its own.
It’s the latter that we’ll explore today, with additional insights from insurtech experts.
It’s a tough world out there
There’s quite a bit of spin to sift through in the LinkedIn post that Luko’s CEO, Raphaël Vullierme, wrote about the company’s sale to Admiral. It’s a “huge achievement,” he writes, but if you look deeper, the post also has various insights about the insurtech market and the struggles that startups have to face.
“Winning in this market requires time and money: it takes eight to ten years and €100-€150M to build a sustainably profitable B2C insurer in the P&C space,” Vullierme wrote. [P&C stands for property and casualty, the type of insurance that protects people and their belongings.]