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Jun 2019

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Breathing new life into Singapore's insurance market

Source: AIR | Jul 2017

Singapore Life & Health

The first local insurer to be licensed in Singapore in nearly 50 years wants to make buying life insurance a more pleasant experience.
By Ridwan Abbas
 
 
Acquiring life insurance can often be a laborious experience, which is why Singapore Life wants to make it simpler for consumers by harnessing the power of technology.
 
   “The basis of life insurance isn’t that complicated but the industry has over-complicated it, and so we try to make it easy and accessible to people so they no longer defer the decision to get their life insurance sorted out,” said the company’s founder and CEO Mr Walter de Oude.
 
   He added that Singapore Life is focused on “technological efficiency” in its processes, with a customer potentially having a life policy issued in 10 minutes as opposed to waiting for a week as is commonly the case.
 
   “We have an automated underwriting mechanism that is really smart and so based on a person’s responses to a list of questions, they can get their policy sorted out within 10 to 20 minutes.”
 
   Elaborating on how Singapore Life makes insurance buying easier, Mr Oude added: “Customers don’t have to answer every question, just the ones that are important to them. And in terms of identity verification we will not need copies of someone’s identity card as we can do facial recognition and matching to validate identities which significantly improves the purchasing experience.”
 
   Singapore Life was licensed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore back in June, having raised US$50 million in series A funding – one of the largest in Singapore and Southeast Asia in recent years. Its two largest investors are Hong Kong-listed Credit China FinTech Holdings and UK-based investor IPGL Ltd. It has also partnered two leading reinsurers, Munich Re Group and Pacific Life Re.
 
Focus on High Net Worth segment
Singapore Life currently offers universal life policies targeting high-net-worth individuals, a segment which is under-served given Singapore’s continued growth as a global wealth hub, he said.
 
   “Research shows that Singapore wealth is growing four times the rate of Swiss wealth and so there is a massive and growing opportunity in the high net worth space.”
 
   Singapore Life will be distributing its high net worth offering through private banks and brokers.
 
Distribution
In August, the insurer plans to roll out term and protection products for retail customers which can be bought through financial advisors or directly online. And products purchased through either channels will be priced the same, he added.
 
   The key is in giving customers more option and flexibility when buying their life insurance.
 
   “We don’t differentiate between the direct and advised journey, our job is to make sure that it’s accessible to everybody that wants the product.”
 
   Mr Oude aims to acquire at least a 5% market share of the retail life insurance business in Singapore in the near term. A 
 
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