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Fast-paced innovation uptake
In the insurance sector, the past year was dominated by uncertainty around the impact of COVID-19. Insurance professionals continued to make rapid changes in response to evolving expectations and demands. Forward-thinking organisations also invested in technology that would help them to anticipate change.
Technology from virtual platforms and artificial intelligence to streamline digital processes is influencing product development and the way insurers interact with customers and other stakeholders. Insurance Business Asia launched the 5-Star Technology report to recognise the providers who made the transformation possible by supporting insurers, brokers and underwriters in their quest to adapt and grow.
“End policyholders can be better served when obstacles are removed from the paths of intermediaries and insurers. They can have exposure to more options, more customisation, better advice and faster turnaround times”
Gordon Tay, Surer
During the process of surveying brokers and assessing the various products, inefficiency emerged as a key challenge throughout the insurance industry. While the pandemic has undoubtedly triggered many ‘quick fix’ responses, the overall sense is that it’s time for insurance professionals to review the business as a whole.
“The general insurance market is highly inefficient,” says Gordon Tay, co-founder of cloud-based web platform Surer. “There is huge unmet demand – 70% of SMEs in Singapore are underinsured – alongside a huge unmatched supply, with 90% of insurers underrepresented. And over 30,000 insurance intermediaries are stuck in the middle of this mismatch where it can take an intermediary up to an entire month to complete a simple deal.”
Small wonder, then, that increasing efficiency is a common theme for the 19 winning companies.
“Our no-code SaaS platform allows enabled insurance companies to launch digital products and alternative channels within one month, without affecting their legacy core systems”
Michele Grosso, Democrance
A focus on efficiency
The winners approach efficiency in a number of ways.
Democrance, for example, has made it possible for insurers to shrug off the limitations of a legacy core technology system.
“Our no-code SaaS platform allows enabled insurance companies to launch digital products and alternative channels within one month, without affecting their legacy core systems,” says CEO Michele Grosso. “The platform digitises and automates the entire value chain of insurance sales from marketing to claims processing.”
By bringing largely siloed and offline groups together online, Surer helps to streamline processes such as sourcing multiple quotes and options, creating bespoke policy plans, tracking deals and distributing products. Tay says that this approach benefits the three core parties in the insurance purchase journey: the policyholder, the intermediary and the insurer.
bolttech also makes it easier to buy and sell protection and insurance. CEO Rob Schimek says that the company’s standardised APIs integrate rapidly with its partners’ channels, even online-to-offline hybrids.
"A technology-enabled insurance exchange also gives our partners fast access to products from a range of insurers so they can offer more choice to their existing customers," he says. "We also provide powerful functionalities to address the pain points that typically frustrate customers when they're buying insurance."
Many of today’s insurance customers expect a simple, digital-first experience with offerings of embedded, hyper-relevant protection.
Arijit Chakraborty, APAC managing director at Cover Genius, points to a recent PYMNTS survey, which suggests that 60% of customers would prefer to receive insurance or warranties directly from their favourite brands.
“When brands integrate with XCover, our global distribution platform, they can embed and distribute any line of insurance or warranty product directly to customers around the world with a single API call. AI and machine learning ensure customers receive relevant and personalised products,” he says.
XCover can also automate the claims process. Although historically, insurance claims have taken around 30 to 90 days to settle, Cover Genius’s technology offers instant payment for approved claims, says Chakraborty.
“When brands integrate with XCover, our global distribution platform, they can embed and distribute any line of insurance or warranty product directly to customers around the world with a single API call”
Arijit Chakraborty, Cover Genius
A patchwork of challenges and opportunities
In Asia, a patchwork of different markets – each with its own regulations, technology infrastructure and consumer needs – raises a complex challenge for insurers. It also creates some of the world’s most significant opportunities.
bolttech, for example, operates in 10 Asian markets and is continually adding new insurers and distribution partners.
“One of bolttech’s differentiators is that we provide insurance and protection products ourselves. That means we can leverage our deep insurance experience across Asia to help our partners succeed,” says Schimek.
Akira Morita, Democrance’s head of business development for APAC, says that, in his experience, digital insurance is more mature in Asia than some other regions. The company also has insurance partners with high expectations, enabling it to gain valuable insights from clients, he says.
“Currently, we have live insurance partners in Cambodia, the Philippines and Thailand, and various active conversations in many other countries around Southeast and South Asia,” Morita says. “We plan to keep investing in our SaaS platform capability, especially in the data intelligence and analytics space, to anticipate and meet our clients' evolving needs.”
Cover Genius is committed to supporting new partners in the region across the spectrum of e-commerce, property, travel, mobility, auto, B2B and financial services.
“Our aim is to enable Asia’s largest digital companies to offer embedded protection to their customers,” says Chakraborty.
Surer was founded with the intention of elevating the value proposition of intermediaries and insurers by eliminating rigid or cumbersome processes.
“We believe that end policyholders can be better served when these obstacles are removed from the paths of intermediaries and insurers. They can have exposure to more options, more customisation, better advice and faster turnaround times,” says Tay.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, insurers and other industry players have become far more receptive to the benefits of leveraging technology. This has encouraged insurtech firms to develop solutions which focus on connecting parties through a digital ecosystem.
“Even where the technology was already available, the human enablers have come to see value in working together rather than building their own siloed system. We’re seeing a digital trend towards inclusiveness and collaboration, and I think this is one of the main reasons why we’re seeing a much more vibrant insurtech community within Asia,” says Tay.
- Cover Genius
- Igloo Insure
- Insurance Samadhan
- YAS MicroInsurance