Anthony Spiteri is the CTO of battleface, a full-stack global company with modular tech, unbundled and embedded travel insurance products. Anthony was interviewed by Ron Rock, Senior Director at JobsOhio, a private non-profit corporation designed to drive job creation and new capital investment in Ohio through business attraction, retention and expansion efforts.
Anthony, what are some of the recent accomplishments that battleface is celebrating?
“We are excited that we continue to grow globally; we are available right now in 185+ countries worldwide. We've just gone live in Canada, and we're getting ready to go live in Australia. We have an outstanding team in Australia who's helping us launch. Another accomplishment is our technology platform, which assists in launching new products quickly, and gets us into our desired locations.
Regarding launching partnerships, we've cut the timeline down from a technology standpoint to just a couple of days, which is very exciting. Previously, it would have taken us between 8 to 12 weeks to either get into a new location, launch a partnership or a completely new product offering. We're getting engineering out of the way and letting the underwriting and partnership teams do what they do best and enable them to continue to help us quickly grow.”
How has battleface continued to evolve over the past year?
“A big part of our continued evolution was to expand and grow globally. Typically, many companies – especially the larger ones – will have separated entities to launch in every country individually, and we've continued to do that with our compact size as a tech startup. As an insurtech, we've continued to grow and evolve into areas where we see a lot of opportunity. A big part of 2022 is also a realignment to go more toward partnerships instead of direct-to-consumer. So, we've adopted a b2b2c (business to business to consumer) model. With travel insurance, the direct-to-consumer model is difficult and expensive when considering the circumstances of trying to sell to somebody traveling at the right time who still hasn't purchased travel insurance. So, partnering with key partners in the travel and fintech spaces has helped us rapidly grow, and we've shifted our focus towards that versus going direct-to-consumer as our primary channel.”
What are some of the new objectives the team has set out for 2023?
“Everybody keeps talking about a recession and that the mindset has changed, but since travel plans were hampered for so long by COVID, that aspect of spending continues to grow and flourish. So, some objectives we want to focus on this year are becoming profitable and self-sustainable and continuing to grow. We’ve also just launched a new service, Robin Assist, which is essentially travel insurance as a service. We’ll be able to provide services to MGAs (Managing General Agents) and insurance carriers. We’ll provide services such as claims handling, customer service, emergency medical and travel assistance, and technology. Our motivation to begin this service was a lot of negative reviews and feedback that our outsourced to third party administrators claims process was not easy.
We have many people on our team who come from 20+ years of experience in the insurance industry, especially in claims and assistance. So, we decided to take these services back in-house rather than through a third party, as we had previously. We brought that in-house, applied our tech, and immediately started to see people getting their claims settled much more quickly, with more direct answers. We also started to talk to other companies about taking claims and assistance in-house for them. That conversation often leads to what technology platform we’re using. We talked about our platform and realized there's a large market for directly working in the b2b space within the insurance industry. Right now, our focus is mostly travel insurance, but we also see the possibility of getting into other lines, working with MGAs, brokers, self-insured enterprises and insurance companies in the future. I think that's going to be a big part of our 2023 plans while we also continue to grow the partnerships that we have, as well as acquire new ones.”
Beyond this coming year, what are some interesting challenges within travel and travel insurance that continue to inspire your team?
“There was an enormous resurgence in travel after the pandemic. We saw that this past summer when many global restrictions were lifted. There was a huge demand. Unfortunately, the airlines just couldn't keep up. We saw a lot of delayed flights and a lot of people losing luggage. I had family visiting us here in Ohio, and they got delayed by over a day. They had to spend a night in a hotel in a different city, and their luggage still hadn't arrived five days later. Right now, the airline industry is struggling with the demand to keep up, and it’s because they haven't ramped up to what they were previously in the pre-COVID era. It's interesting for us to figure out. Also, it's a nice challenge for the team.
We want to help out because traveling is a huge part of humanity. So, we’re asking ourselves, how do we help people travel with ease of mind, and how can we help them when they're actually in trouble? That's a big part of battleface going forward. These are key, recurring challenges in every traveler’s life today, just like what happened with my family over the holidays. It’s something that gets us all excited to make a difference.”