SINGAPORE (Dec 12): SingSaver, a comparison platform that allows users to compare, select and apply for financial products online, has shifted its focus to insurance – a market that is expected to be worth $4 billion by 2020.  

Having secured a brokerage licence from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) back in March, SingSaver is now offering instant online comparisons in the areas of insurance for homes, travel and even domestic workers.

The Goldman Sachs and Alibaba-backed platform now offers a comprehensive range of over 100 policies from 12 leading providers, including AXA, Allianz, Tokio Marine and NTUC Income.  

Apart from Singapore, the group has also secured insurance brokerage licences in Hong Kong, Philippines and Thailand.

In an interview with The Edge Singapore, SingSaver’s co-founder Rohith Murthy says the decision to venture into the insurance market was led by rising demand for insurance comparison.

“A new generation of shoppers spearheaded by millennials and those from ‘Generation Z’ want to instantly compare and apply for financial products like insurance online -- and increasingly on mobile,” says Rohith.

For instance, SingSaver’s 11/11 Singles Day campaign uncovered some hidden bright spots for the group. 

The platform saw a 59% increase in returning users compared to its "May Madness" campaign. Rohith attributes the spike to the inclusion of insurance products, compared to the previous campaigns which only featured credit cards. 

“We’ve seen this type of multi-product purchasing happening among our current customers, and we expect to see that continue moving forward,” says Rohith.

Similarities across sectors

Rohith says that SingSaver has had “considerable success” with its banking products. The way he tells it, more than a million users have used SingSaver this year alone to compare banking products such as credit cards and personal loans, with some 30% of them buying a product in the end.

One of the reasons behind this success is the group’s “non-interventionist” approach that “guides” -- and does not force -- customers to a buying decision, says Rohith.

“As soon as consumers pick financial products, we don’t intervene. We just let them pick the product that best suits their needs. We make a conscious effort to show the entire market through comparisons,” says Rohith, who has seen how people would simply sign up for a credit card – without doing a comparative study – just because they would get a free gift.

“This is same in the insurance market today. It is highly incentivised and based on a commission structure but this prevents people from really analysing what’s available on the market,” he adds.

“We want to make sure consumers are able to look at the entire insurance market, and not just a certain product in isolation,” says Rohith. "This will allow customers to do their research and compare products before making a decision.”

Challenging road ahead

The Life Insurance Association noted that in the first half of the year, digital insurers accounted for a mere 0.2% of weighted premiums value of new insurance business. This translates to a share of $3 million, compared to a total of $1.97 billion.

Rohith acknowledges that this is “a big challenge” for the group, and educating customers on the benefits of getting insurance policies online is a hurdle that has to be overcome.

“We’ve since attained that credibility with banking as the company has built a solid reputation for itself,” says Rohith, “We need to do that with insurance as well.”

But SingSaver will have to work quickly to prove its case, especially since the insurance scene in Singapore has not been spared from digitalisation and disruption. New entrants such as Singlife and GrabInsure and NTUC Income’s joint micro-insurance plan have introduced “complexity into the market,'' says Rohith.

Yet, Rohith is quick to highlight how the group’s operations in Hong Kong has taught the team certain lessons that could well be applied to Singapore.

“Given that the Hong Kong market is not very different from the Singapore one in terms of demographics and purchasing behaviour, we’re optimistic and confident that we will be able to secure the same success here,” says Rohith.

Rohith highlights how its digital end-to-end product in Hong Kong has resulted in a “seamless purchasing process” for customers, along with an integration with the city’s key service providers. “We’re looking to build that level of capability here,” says Rohith.

Looking ahead, Rohith says the company expects to improve its new insurance platform over the course of 1H20, with the end goal of delivering an “end-to-end model with as few interruptions as possible”.

SingSaver is also looking at other insurance categories such as health and motor insurance, as part of the group’s strategy to “grow aggressively in 2020,” says Rohith.

“Thus far, we’ve mostly seen double digit y-o-y growths for our banking sector, and the insurance sector is not likely to be any different,” he adds.