May 2, 2018

  Asia, excluding Japan, accounted for 76% of the increase in the global insurance business last year, with China accounting for more than two thirds of this, according to Allianz Research.   Opportunities in Asia are tremendous as there is still a very large portion of Asia’s 4.4 billion population that is underinsured. But the traditional […]


Asia, excluding Japan, accounted for 76% of the increase in the global insurance business last year, with China accounting for more than two thirds of this, according to Allianz Research.   Opportunities in Asia are tremendous as there is still a very large portion of Asia’s 4.4 billion population that is underinsured.

But the traditional insurance model is so irrelevant for the tech-savvy Millennial generation that new internet companies have a huge opportunity to step in and get a share of the pie.  Leveraging on technological developments like data, AI or blockchain, they are offering more transparency, faster onboarding, more personalized offerings and cheaper premiums through cost efficiencies.

As a result, traditional incumbents in the region are setting up innovation labs to keep up with the new trends and technologies. Almost all of them now have their insurtech innovation labs in Asia, most of the time in Shanghai or Singapore.

Legend: Launch of innovation labs by insurance companies in Asia

At Innovation Is Everywhere, we monitor startups and trends in Asia and organize learning expeditions for our clients to learn from the innovators. Here are the Top 5 tech companies reshaping the insurance industry in Asia today and why you should keep an eye on them.  

1)Zhong An is building a one-stop platform for car buyers and owners

China’s Zhong An was the first tech company to get an Internet insurance license, enabling it to sell all its products and handle claims completely online. The startup has been launched in 2013 as a joint venture between the insurer Ping An and tech giants Tencent and Alibaba. It has underwritten over 630 million insurance policies and serviced 150 million clients in its first year of operation.  

Although the company’s flagship product is still selling shipping return insurance for merchants on Alibaba’s online shopping website, Zhong An considers that the car insurance segment will become one of the company’s most important growth engines. The company launched its Bao Biao Car Insurance business in 2015 and has seen rapid growth in premiums.

Through Bao Biao, Zhong An has created an ecosystem on its platform for car insurance premiums.  The platform provides a one-stop shop for buyers and owners. Basically, you’ll be shopping for your car and be able to, at the same time, take care of matters related to car purchase insurance, loans, after purchase services, investment management and usage-based car insurance in one visit. The company is working with dozens of companies involved in the car value chain, including Didi Chauffeur, a designated driver service; Yixin Group, the country’s largest online car retailer and carmakers Changan Automobile and BYD.

Zhong An had 400 million users in 2016


2) Alipay leverages on its 520 million users and its payment solution to sell insurance in a few minutes

Zhong An went public in Hong Kong in September, raising $1.5 billion. Alibaba, Tencent and Ping An all chose to dilute their stake during Zhong An’s public offering which simultaneously removed any conflict of interest that may have impeded the fulfillment of their own digital insurance ambitions.

Since then, Alibaba’s Alipay has launched its own insurance platform.  Almost all kinds of insurance policies are available in the platform, from companies including Zhong An, Allianz, Ping An, PICC, China Life and more.  Insurers bid to offer their services, offering users the lowest price.

The purchasing and claiming process is very simple. Consumers can use Alipay’s profiling functions and do a self-assessment by answering a few questions. They will then get recommendations for insurance purchases based on their selections.  Users then choose the product and pay with Alipay within seconds.

Ant Financial, the company behind Alipay, had rolled out a social credit score system in 2015 called Sesame Credit.  Sesame Credit assigns users a score ranging from 350 to 950 based on five criteria: credit history, online transactional habits, personal information, ability to honor an agreement, and social network affiliations. Customers who have a good credit score can take interest-free loans from Ant Financial to pay for their insurance and receive discounts if they do so as well as benefit from the privilege of installment payment.  

In April 2017, Alipay and the life insurance company Taikang Insurance launched a free health insurance promotion. Users under 60 got a certain amount of insurance coverage every time they made offline payments with Alipay.   The product, covering critical illness, required no medical examination. Users can file a claim in the app and upload relevant materials as proof of the claim. They will get the payout when the claim is accepted. The product attracted 13 million applicants in one month (equal to 11% of Taikang Insurance’s online users).


3) Insurtech Policypal provides a clear understanding of the user’s coverage and works on smart contracts and P2P to expand in the region

Policypal, a Singaporean startup incubated by PayPal, was the first startup to graduate from a regulatory sandbox created by the Singaporean government (MAS).

The company got a Digital Insurance Broker license after complying to regulations in September 2017, and has accumulated a user base of over 32,000 people in Singapore since then. Policypal managed to get traction because it solved one major problem in insurance : helping clients to understand their coverage.

The user just needs to upload his policies onto the app and their image recognition technology will do the rest. The user then gets a simplified summary dashboard of his policy coverage.  Not only can he track and manage policies in the app, he can also get insured in 3 minutes through partners and file claims.  

PolicyPal is now betting on blockchain to grow further in the region and reach the underinsured population.  The company is working on rolling out a P2P mutual aid insurance using smart contracts to automate the underwriting of claims handling, allowing insurance premium costs to be reduced.  “With P2P mutual aid insurance, we want to build a inclusive community where members are able to obtain protection at a relatively low cost”.  

(Also: read our interview with the Founder of Policypal)

4) Insurtech SingLife automated KYC with facial recognition for life insurance

Another startup from Singapore, SingLife, also got a license from the government to sell insurance.  It has created a life insurance company from scratch in 2014, and uses facial recognition to automate the KYC process, transferring cost efficiencies into value for customers.  No more paperwork or medical check-up is needed. All it takes is 20 minutes to fill out an online questionnaire. The startup has grown significantly since its launch. It recently acquired the business portfolio of Zurich Life Singapore, valued approximately at S$6 billion of coverage for life, critical illness and disability benefits.  

Facial recognition has become a very common practice in China to bring the whole purchasing experience online. Traditional insurers such as ICIC are distributing insurance online by asking their clients to take a selfie with their ID. They also use artificial intelligence to give their clients the possibility of scanning their passports to automatically complete forms with their personal details.

5) Insurtech GoBear Is going to be the Kayak of Insurance in Asia

Incorporated in 2014, the insurance comparator GoBear is already present in 7 countries and has jumped from 500 000 visitors in 2016 to a whopping 3 million per month in 2017.

GoBear is able to give a quote for credit cards, loans or insurance with only 4 to 5 questions. The company’s value is to provide a comprehensive market overview that is unbiased, fast and free, with personalised search results.  Compared to other players in this list, GoBear doesn’t sell insurance itself to maintain that trust and transparency with the customer. The startup plans to grow by giving traditional insurance players a “life dashboard” with insights on what people want (profile, product, price). It has already set up pilots with Allianz and Axa.

GoBear’s founder, Andre Hesselink, worked for an airline ticket company in the Netherlands for 13 years before he started GoBear in Singapore. He  likes to compare the insurance industry with the travel industry. In less than 15 years, the travel industry has shifted from a provider “Push” model to a customer demand “Pull” model. He believes that the insurance industry is at that same juncture today.

Connect with us to get more insights on insurance innovation in Asia, or organise a learning expedition with us to meet the innovative players in insurance from Asia !