Nationwide says it will earmark more than $100 million in venture capital funding toward startups developing customer-centric platforms leveraging digital, mobile and analytics technologies. The insurer expects the move will help it further adapt to policyholders’ changing needs, it says.

To help with the innovation push, Nationwide also announced the hire of Scott Sanchez as its first chief innovation officer. Sanchez is tasked with managing the company’s fintech and insurtech venture capital strategy, including its recently launched startup incubator, Refinery 191.

Sanchez comes to the Colombus, Ohio-based carrier by way of First Data, a payment technology solutions company in Atlanta, where he was last VP of innovation. He will begin his new role on Sept. 4 and report to Terrance Williams, president of emerging businesses at Nationwide.

Scott Sanchez first day as chief innovation officer of Nationwide will be Sept. 4.
Scott Sanchez first day as chief innovation officer of Nationwide will be Sept. 4. Nationwide

“In this position, Scott will have a leadership role in moving our company forward,” Williams said, in a statement. “With technology and consumer preferences changing exponentially, we need to stay on top of trends in the marketplace and develop solutions that will grow our business and serve our members in the best possible ways—possibly in ways that don’t even exist today.”

Nationwide has invested in a number of projects focused on customer experience in recent months. Nationwide Ventures, launched in 2016, has invested or partnered with six startups, including blooom, Insurify, Next Insurance and Sure, an online renters’ insurance distributor.

Last month, the company also integrated its usage-based insurance service, SmartRide, into its Amazon Alexa skill. The insurer told Digital Insurance this week it hopes to introduce a pay-per-mile option for the service in 2018.

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