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Making insurance more accessible

Nurdianah Md Nur
Nurdianah Md Nur9/29/2021 05:30 PM GMT+08  • 7 min read
Making insurance more accessible
Insurance has to be easy, fast and seamless, with a choice of products that suit the customer’s unique needs in a timely manner.
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Once thought to be optional, insurance is gaining consumer interest due to the impact of the pandemic combined with economic, social, technological and competitive shifts.

One in four consumers in Asia Pacific are concerned about the stability of their financial future, according to the 2021 APAC Covid-19 consumer survey by reinsurance company Swiss Re. A quarter of them also rank mental well-being as their top health concern today.

See also: Great Eastern launches Singapore's first green life insurance product

Despite that, relatively few consumers in the region have insurance plans. For instance, another study by Swiss Re found that life insurance penetration for Southeast Asia is at approximately 1.2% to 3.4% of the GDP across the different countries.

“People in Asia aren’t protected in the ways that they should be. [They view insurance as something that is] hard to understand, expensive and a hassle. The future of insurance has to be easy, fast and uncomplicated, with a choice of products that suit your unique needs at that moment in time,” says Rob Schimek, global CEO of Singapore-based insurance technology (insurtech) company Bolttech.

To enable such a future, Bolttech has built an ecosystem to connect insurers, distribution partners and customers to make it easier for consumers to buy and companies to sell insurance.

Leveraging the power of connection

Bolttech’s insurance ecosystem supports its vision of connecting people with more ways to protect the things they value. “Our mantra is the “power of connection” — it breathes life into our insurance exchange, integrating suppliers and distributors of insurance. [This is why] we work towards building the insurance distribution infrastructure of the future and bringing the entire industry along on this journey,” says Schimek.

Bolttech does so by helping insurers expand outside of their risk appetite and digitise their sales process. It also allows banks and FinTechs to offer complementary lines of business to their services within weeks, and enables non-financial services institutions to bundle relevant protection solutions for their customers with the click of a button.

Our insurance exchange is the largest in the world, with more than US$5 billion ($6.7 billion) in premiums on the platform. Through it, our partners can offer customers more choice from over 5,000 products globally while equipping themselves with the digital tools to modernise their customer journeys.

Rob Schimek, global CEO of Bolttech

He continues: “Insurers themselves can join our ecosystem as product providers and find new markets for their products. We even partner with non-insurance players. With Bolttech, any business can add more value to their customers.”

“[In short,] we help our partners increase customer lifetime value as they compete for customer loyalty and look for solutions to create repeatable, consistent revenue streams. They can meet their customers’ insurance needs by offering more convenience and choice, with a fast, easy, technology-enabled experience. This enables them to provide customers with the right contextual products at the point of need,” he adds.

Reception towards an ecosystem play

Despite the benefits of working in an ecosystem, not everyone is keen to jump on the bandwagon at first. Schimek shares that while the response from partners in Asia has been largely positive, some hesitated at the beginning as they may be the first to deploy the model in their industry or have little experience diversifying into new lines of business. They were also concerned about the speed of execution and the change management process needed.

“There are also some who saw the opportunities [that an ecosystem play can bring] but had a do-it-yourself mindset, where they thought they could or had to build everything — the technology, infrastructure and partnerships — themselves,” he says.

To address those concerns, Bolttech provides the necessary features to enable an ecosystem play from one platform.

Schimek explains: “Businesses wanting to distribute insurance may face hurdles sourcing the right product for their customers’ needs. With more than 5,000 products and 150 insurance providers on our platform globally, we can offer an ever-expanding suite of standard and customisable products.”

Partners can easily integrate Bolttech’s platform with their existing IT systems too. “Our standardised APIs integrate quickly with partners’ channels, even online to offline hybrids. Our technology capabilities also bring powerful functionalities such as dynamic quote generation, AI-driven recommendation engine, a range of digital payment options and instant e-policy issuance — all designed to help our partners deliver a superior customer experience,” says Schimek.

He also highlights that Bolttech can help partners navigate the different regulations across the region. “Since we have several insurance intermediary licences in key markets across Asia, we can give our partners the flexibility to set up regulatory-compliant models that suit local markets,” he says.

“Bolttech is not only facilitating a powerful exchange amongst an ecosystem of insurance providers and distributors, but we are also a provider of insurance and protection products ourselves and we have deep experience in insurance. We therefore understand the complexities of insurance – which differ market by market, especially in Asia – and we know how to overcome the “frictions” our partners may encounter,” he adds.

Shaping the future of insurance

Given its unique value proposition, Bolttech is one of the fastest-growing international insurtech today. It currently serves more than 7.7 million customers in 26 markets across Asia, North America and Europe. Some of the market-leading partners it works with are super app Line in Thailand, online payment PayMaya in the Philippines, e-commerce giant Lazada and electronics leaders Samsung and LG U+.

In July, Bolttech announced the completion of an oversubscribed US$180 million series A funding round, enabling it to achieve unicorn status just one year after its launch. The round was led by Activant Capital Group and joined by investors including Tony Fadell, principal at Future Shape, Alpha Leonis Partners, Dowling Capital Partners, B. Riley Venture Capital and Tarsadia Investments.

Schimek also says the investment will accelerate Bolttech’s continued growth and its plans to consolidate its leading position in the US. The company has grown its enterprise customers by three-fold and distribution partnerships by nine-fold with notable names, including seven of the top 10 insurers in the US. It is also working with start-up digital insurers and non-insurance businesses such as telcos and e-commerce players.

He adds that there are currently about 150 carriers providing products on Bolttech’s US exchange, which “offers a huge amount of access to thousands of products across the 50 states”. “We intend to continue extending and expanding our capabilities in the US and use all the lessons we’ve learned there to expand internationally,” he says.

Expanding capabilities

Bolttech also gained additional funds last month from Singapore-based global investor EDBI and Spain’s Alma Mundi Insurtech Fund, bringing its Series A funding total to US$210 million ($284 million).

The additional capital will help Bolttech further enable its partners and customers with enhanced technology and digital capabilities. Bringing on these new strategic investors will also help strengthen its presence in Southeast Asia, Europe, and its other existing markets, as the business accelerates its international growth strategy.

Schimek concludes: “I’m excited about what we can do in the embedded insurance space with non-insurance partners. Both in Asia and around the world, we see a lot of opportunities equipping businesses with value-add, digital insurance products.”

“Bolttech can help any business to “just add insurance” for their customers at the point of need, and make the experience great. While this means growth for the whole insurance industry, ultimately, it’s the end customers who benefit as they will be better protected than ever before,” he says.

Photo: Shutterstock

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