INSURANCE IN ASIA: 2019 - INSURTECH DEVELOPMENT

01 February 2019

Asia Pacific (APAC) has a positive growth outlook for 2019, where countries such as China, India, Indonesia and Malaysia are the emerging economies in the region. Rising incomes and increasing awareness of insurance products have driven the growth of insurance markets in this region from 2012–2017. Experts suggested, however, that future growth would be shaped by additional factors such as innovation, product design, distribution and technology adoption.

APAC has been the growth driver for the global insurance industry with a 2.8% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR). For the period 2012–2017, APAC’s non-life sector grew 8% and the life sector by 0.4%, whereas the rest of the world‘s growth rate was 0.6%, and globally, the non-life sector grew 0.9% and the life sector grew by 0.2%. This reveals that within the non-life segment, Asia has certainly prospered, its growth driven primarily by factors like:

  • the creation of demand for insurance products,
  • increasing awareness (both personal and corporate),
  • increasing investment by global insurance firms in the Asia region, and
  • strengthening of insurance market regulations in various countries in the region within Asia.

China has led the growth of premiums in life (17.6%) and non-life (16.5%) insurance during the same period, thereby making itself a significant contributor to APAC’s insurance growth rate.

This 3-part article aims to shed light on the possible directions that the Asian insurance market can take in 2019 through analysing three trends—insurtech development, regulatory changes, and evolving cyber threats.

INSURTECH DEVELOPMENT

For Asia, insurtech will be a significant growth driver for 2019 and onwards. According to studies, in global emerging markets (which include Asian markets), FinTechs are expected to generate an additional Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of USD 3.7 trillion by 2025. Through FinTech, low per capita income countries (such as India, Ethiopia, or Nigeria) could augment 10–12% of their GDPs and middle-income countries (such as China, Brazil, or Mexico) could augment 4–5% of their GDPs by 2025.

Technologies driving insurtech in the upcoming years will include:

  • Blockchain: Increasing use in authentication, underwriting, claims distribution and prevention of fraudulent insurance transactions (especially during claims). 
    - In December 2018, the Hong Kong Federation of Insurers (HKFI) launched its Motor Insurance DLT-based Authentication System (MIDAS). This is a blockchain application that would help to authenticate motor insurance cover notes and policies.
  • Internet of Things (IoT): Achieving accuracy in underwriting policies using real-time data through sensory technologies such as wearables, telematics (for cars), RFIDs, etc. In some cases, IoT could also help in reducing or eliminating claims using allied services, such as big data analytics, enterprise asset management, artificial intelligence, etc.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): Increasing use of AI in enhancing customer experience, starting from policy placements to query handling to claims settlement and innovating different ways of streamlining claims management. A recent example is AIA’s launch of humanoids in Singapore to enhance customer experience through an AI-based “one-stop-shop” solution.

Key Trends to look out for in 2019:

  • The increasing collaboration between traditional (re)insurers and insurtech start-ups in Asian insurance markets.
  • An increasing number of digital insurance brokers and digital-only insurers offering both life and non-life products through the digital medium, thereby enabling wider outreach and especially targeting the increasingly tech-savvy population
    - In September 2018, Hong Kong’s first purely digital life insurance company started business operations backed by Tencent Holdings (Chinese internet giant) and Aviva.
  • The reduction of complexities for obtaining an insurance license, especially in the case of domestic start-ups.
  • The creation of regulatory FinTech sandbox throughout Asian countries and allowing an environment for start-ups to develop new or better solutions. Examples of regulators and policymakers collaborating to create a FinTech ecosystem are: 
    - Regulators in the UK, Singapore and Australia have entered into the highest number of bilateral agreements with other regulators
    The Insurance Commission in the Philippines announced that it aims to increase usage of FinTech and plans to come up with policies and regulations to ensure the continuation of this trend
  • Asian insurers are likely to follow Western companies’ trend of modernising legacy systems and moving core business functionalities into the cloud. According to Ovum, the number of US insurers with claims systems fully deployed in the cloud has increased from 13% in 2016 to 26% in 2018. By learning from the adoption strategies of global insurers; Asian insurers can make their business functions more efficient and accurate, eliminate fraudulent claims, enable automation and increase the security of their systems.
    In 2018, ZhongAn Technology launched China’s first one-stop-shop claims service e-platform for insurers. The platform adopts Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) for insurance claims services.
  • A shift from proof-of-concept stage to real-world applications of blockchain-enabled platforms. This would include increased instances of companies collaborating with technology firms.
    According to a survey of 200 insurance professionals in China, ~90% responded that Big Data and AI have the biggest impact on the insurance sector. 89% responded that future insurtech investments would exceed the current levels.
  • Increasing instances of insurers pushing the envelope of distribution channels by partnering with players outside the insurance industry (such as e-commerce platforms) to increase customer outreach.

For further information, please contact Graham Edwards, Regional Director of Sales and Marketing at Graham_Edwards@jltasia.com.