With technology-driven improvements dominating almost every business sector, companies and entrepreneurs in the insurance industry have emerged as pioneers in incorporating the latest technological synergies into their products and services. This evolution of traditional models and processes has been coined “insurtech,” marking the convergence of “insurance” and “technology,” which adapts the innovative use of technology to insurance-related transactions and processes. Emerging technologies—such as the Internet of Things, Big Data, mobile technology, artificial intelligence, wearable devices, cyber insurance and blockchain—are revolutionizing the insurance industry and transforming consumer expectations and preferences.
Although these companies were initially seen as disruptive, established insurers are now rapidly partnering with, and making significant financial and operational investments in, insurtech start-ups and development labs. Totaling $1.7 billion in 2016, Insurtech investment will only accelerate, with growth estimated at 10 percent each year between 2017 and 2020. As the industry modernizes, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP can assist startups, incubators, accelerators, innovation labs, traditional insurers and reinsurers, investors and others seeking to engage in the insurtech space position themselves to take advantage of emerging opportunities. Our team can also help clients navigate the quickly developing legal and regulatory issues and potential hurdles related to:
- regulatory compliance
- political and legislative advocacy
- cybersecurity, privacy and data protection
- corporate formation and contracts
- employment and workplace issues
- intellectual property (IP) transactions and counseling
- consumer protection.
As trusted counsel to insurance and technology companies around the world, our multidisciplinary team helps clients further their bottom line and can advise insurtech companies of all sizes and maturity on their complex business and legal challenges. Our team of lawyers around the world leverage the extensive experience of our corporate, regulatory, cybersecurity, privacy, data protection, intellectual property, labor and employment, litigation, public law and policy (legislative), financial services, tax and technology practices to offer innovative legal solutions that help our clients succeed at the intersection of business, technology and regulation.
We help clients stay abreast of the ever-changing regulatory landscape applicable to new technologies and services, encouraging a preemptive and proactive approach. This includes advice on insurance regulatory issues; compliance and training on existing and evolving regulations; and analyses of the 50-state and federal-level regulatory frameworks surrounding issues such as anti-rebate and inducement laws, data privacy, cybersecurity, underwriting, and sales and distribution. Akin Gump works in tandem with our clients to ensure that any existing or new business venture satisfies regulatory requirements, troubleshooting and making adjustments for various ensuing (and usually complex) scenarios.
Similarly, we provide guidance on the applicability of existing regulations and help secure the necessary licenses when launching new products or entering new markets. We also advise clients on associated issues that may arise, including anti-money laundering and other fraud-related risks, consumer protection and marketing business practices, and claim processing.
Our bipartisan public law and policy practice, which is consistently ranked as one of the top government relations practices in Washington, D.C., and around the country, has extensive experience advocating before both federal- and state-level government and elected officials on issues of importance to the insurance industry. We understand that insurtech is currently governed by complicated and antiquated insurance regulations that are adapting at a much slower, and less nimble, pace than the industry. Representing a plethora of business interests on Capitol Hill and across the country, Akin Gump can help explore and move forward legislative and regulatory changes—including initiatives within the National Association of Insurance Commissioners—that effectively reflect and align with the priorities of the insurtech community.
We know the unique needs of businesses in managing cybersecurity and data privacy concerns and have substantial experience helping clients steer regulatory requirements, including assisting clients with data breach preparedness and response efforts, related investigations and litigation. Our practice offers a full array of services, including developing compliance programs and providing day-to-day counseling on compliance with the complex federal and state regulations governing insurance and financial services, such as the rules enacted by the New York Department of Financial Services. We also offer legislative and regulatory advocacy services, guidance on data breach investigations and responses, and representation in regulatory investigations and litigation in federal and state courts at both the trial and appellate levels. We also furnish strategic advice on structuring business relationships in a manner that is sensitive to cybersecurity, privacy and data protection concerns.
Our lawyers counsel clients on corporate formation and governance procedures, and provide day-to-day corporate counsel on a range of issues, such as financing, drafting and negotiation of contracts, taxes and accounting practices, and compliance with securities laws. The mergers and acquisitions team helps negotiate and structure complex mergers, acquisitions, alliances, joint ventures, partnerships and other strategic transactions. Our practitioners can help transform a tech-focused startup to a risk-bearing entity.
For startups, attracting and retaining talent is key to business growth. Akin Gump’s top-ranked labor and employment team helps startups successfully manage legal issues related to their workforce, including drafting, revising and implementing employment policies; creating employee and independent contractor agreements; and advising on the wide range of employment and wage and hour compliance topics and performance management . Our team also provides strategic counseling on, and representation in connection with, harassment and other employment investigations, federal and state employment and wage and hour litigation, Department of Labor investigations and proper classification of employees. The firm also regularly helps clients steer critical employment matters involving senior company personnel, including disputes regarding the termination of executives and other senior personnel and noncompetition, non-solicitation, confidentiality provisions or other restrictive covenant concerns in the “war for talent.”
Our lawyers have extensive experience in handling domestic and cross-border transactions involving the creation, use, licensing and transfer of technology and IP, including blockchain and related technologies and database structures. We provide strategic IP counseling that positions our clients to maximize the utilization and creation of their IP, be it through extracting greater value from their IP portfolios, streamlining and culling their IP pipeline, and/or managing risks when entering a new product or business area. Our lawyers structure stand-alone IP transactions, and draft and negotiate the related contracts, such as license and settlement agreements, IP assignment agreements, research and development agreements, development and co-development agreements, information technology agreements, marketing agreements, Internet and e-commerce agreements, technology-sharing agreements and employer/employee IP rights provisions.
Our litigators counsel consumer-facing companies on mitigating risk of lawsuits arising from consumer fraud, unfair or misleading business practices, and false advertising claims throughout the country, including claims brought under California’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL), Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA), False Advertising Laws (FAL), and numerous other states’ unfair business practice laws. We help clients avoid being targeted in such cases and, when necessary, provide effective defense to limit exposure should litigation ensue.