Prudential Singapore sees itself going beyond the traditional role of an insurance provider that protects lives by paying claims. Instead, the life insurer is now helping people to focus on their two priorities — health and finances — so they can be better prepared for their future.
“We want to help people be better prepared for a longer life. Our solutions are geared towards empowering people to be more proactive in managing their health and financial wellbeing,” says Goh Theng Kiat, chief customer officer at Prudential Singapore.
A key motivation for this goal comes as Singaporeans’ life expectancy has reached 83.9 years, one of the highest in the world. The good news, according to Prudential’s recent Re-imagining 100 report, is that more residents here are seemingly better prepared to live longer today, than they were in 2018. For instance, 29% of the 1,218 residents polled indicated they are financially prepared to live till 100. By comparison, this figure was 26% back in 2018 (figure 1). From a health perspective, 31% said they are ready to live till 100, compared to 23% back in 2018.
Even so, the pandemic and the resultant safe management measures introduced have put a strain on Singaporeans’ physical and financial wellbeing. Prudential’s research found that nearly one in two or 47% of Singaporeans have seen a deterioration in their financial wellbeing since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, more than a third or 35% saw a deterioration in their mental health, while 42% noted a deterioration in their stress levels.
One way the life insurer is looking to help individuals move closer to their health and financial goals is through a 3P strategy of prevent, protect and postpone. This was brought to life with its Pulse by Prudential health and wellness app. The app — which was rolled out at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic — offers a suite of AI-powered health and wealth solutions, accessible anytime and anywhere, Goh tells The Edge Singapore.
As of end September, the Pulse app had been downloaded about 300,000 times in Singapore. Goh says the number goes up to about 31 million downloads across Africa and Asia, reflecting the growing demand for Prudential’s health and wellness offerings.
The way Goh sees it, the appeal of Pulse’s healthcare offerings lies in how it provides users with real-time information and around-the-clock services. One such feature is the AI-powered Symptom Checker: an interactive platform that gives users a better understanding of the symptoms they may be experiencing. Another feature on the app allows users to consult a doctor at virtually any time of the day.
Data from Pulse’s video consultation with a doctor service shows that the top five concerns reported by Singapore-based users were related to headaches and dizziness, gastrointestinal complaints, menstrual problems, musculoskeletal complaints and respiratory issues. The service has also received cases relating to post-vaccination side effects like fever.
Interestingly, the average usage of the teleconsultation service on Pulse between July to September was 67% higher than the average seen in the nine-month period between September 2020 and June this year. Meanwhile, young adults — loosely defined as persons aged 25 and 34 — made up more than half the patients who had teleconsultations.
Another feature on Pulse is Healthcheck, a tool that provides users with insights on chronic diseases — such as diabetes and hypertension — they may be susceptible to, based on their responses to a virtual questionnaire. Findings are subsequently presented on a “Digital Twin”, which is a graphical illustration of the human body.
The Healthcheck feature captures riveting trends on how healthy Singaporeans are. For one, it reveals that 22% of its Singapore-based users have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of above 30, meaning they are considered obese. The number of those with a healthy BMI — between 18.5 and 25 — came in at 42%. For comparison, 37% of users of the app in Asia are obese while only 39% have a healthy BMI.
Other compelling features on the Pulse app include bite-sized protection plans that can be purchased on-the-go at affordable price points. Such plans provide complimentary coverage for any side effects from a Covid-19 vaccination as well as affordable coverage for ailments such as dengue, breast cancer and prostate cancer.
To explain this, Prudential uses the example of PRUSafe BreastCancer, a plan available to women aged 19 to 39. Premiums start from $9 for women aged between 20 to 25 who are not smokers, for a 12-month term. The plan covers all stages of breast cancer and provides a sum assured of $10,000 upon diagnosis.
Goh says more plans will be added to Pulse’s microinsurance product shelf in the coming months.
The health features available on the app were rolled out to address a worrying trend: Singaporeans spend an average of 10.6 years in ill health, with two in five aged 60 and above grappling with three or more chronic illnesses. With this, Prudential is looking to be a partner in users’ health journey by understanding their health concerns and providing tips on smarter lifestyle choices they can make.
Financial planning simplified
Pulse’s health offerings complement its suite of wealth solutions. Launched in July, the wealth tools serve to simplify one’s financial planning journey.
For instance, users can seek tips from Ruby, an AI-powered assistant that can make inferences on their needs and provide personalised recommendations such as how much they should save in a month to achieve their goals. They also have a “Call Me Back” option, should they want to connect with a financial consultant or schedule an appointment for more in-depth advice.
“By giving users easy access to a human expert, Pulse marries AI and emotional intelligence to enable a more seamless and holistic customer experience,” Goh explains.
He adds that users can also set and track their financial goals through the My Goals feature on the app. Here they can calculate the retirement sum they would need and the monthly savings required for them to achieve this based on their retirement age, lifestyle, income and savings in their CPF and bank accounts. The calculation accounts for factors such as costs of living and interest rates to provide a more realistic view.
See: Nearly 1 in 2 Singaporeans have seen a deterioration in their financial wellbeing since Covid-19 hit: Prudential Survey
Other features on the app include a Knowledge Centre that users can tap on to enhance their financial knowledge, as well as a 360 view that captures all the insurance plans they hold with the insurer. There are also functions allowing users to explore Prudential’s host of solutions in protecting, saving and growing their wealth, based on the goals they have set.
“The comprehensive wealth solutions on Pulse serve to provide a one-stop- shop for customers to refer to as they plan their financial goals,” says Goh.
The offerings on Pulse complement other digital solutions Prudential has rolled out to make the experience of buying and selling insurance as hassle-free as possible for customers and financial consultants. One such tool is PRURemote Advice. Launched in April 2020 when the “circuit breaker” was imposed in Singapore, this video conferencing and e-signature tool allows for financial advisory and policy sales to be done online. Around 45% of agency sales were done virtually as of September.
Another feature is an instant underwriting solution that uses a rule-based engine to provide an immediate decision on a customer’s policy application. Here, customers are made to answer a set of questions and are notified almost immediately if their application for an insurance cover is successful or requires further review. Once an application is approved, customers will receive an electronic policy contract in as quickly as two hours. In contrast, approvals previously took between a day to a week, depending on the type of policy.
The seamless experience that Prudential offers to both its customers and financial consultants stems from the investments it has made in technology. “Technology plays a huge part in how we journey with our customers as they work on their health and wellness goals,” says Goh. Even so, he acknowledges that insurance is a people business, and so the company — and its financial consultants — are always looking for innovative ways to partner both individual and corporate customers in their health and wellness journey.
In this vein, Prudential is now looking to launch Business@Pulse, a one-stop digital platform that will allow SMEs and their employees to have broader and simplified access to insurance and employee benefits. For instance, users will be able to view their group insurance policy details and submit and receive their insurance claims on the app. They will also be able to use a Clinic Locater to find the GP nearest to them. Aside from these, the platform will also host content resources on health and financial wellness through articles covering areas like nutrition, exercise and diet, savings and investment.
Business@Pulse will also empower SMEs to better care for their employees by providing them with easy access to insurance and employee benefits, and health and financial wellness resources. “This will help them keep their employees more engaged and productive for a longer career,” says Goh.
These features align with Prudential’s goal to enable people to focus on being healthier and more financially prepared for their future. “We see Pulse as key to enabling people to take a more proactive and preventative approach to their health and finances,” says Goh. He notes that the app empowers people with the necessary tools to take charge of their wellbeing more easily. “This will stand them in good stead for our two key priorities in life — health and finances — as well as help them start earlier on the road to living well for longer,” stresses Goh.
Cover image of Goh Theng Kiat: Prudential Singapore