Business

Local insurtech companies make a play for market share

The fledgling field of insurtech is no longer a sleepy backwater of the fintech world.

Insurtech refers to tech-based solutions focused on shaking up the insurance market - and a small but growing group of local start-ups is angling for a share of the pie.

One is peer-to-peer insurance firm Bandboo, founded last year and set to launch two products - unemployment insurance and retrenchment benefits - this month.

"We were looking for underserved areas and realised there was a gap here - while people are looking for a new job or looking to gain new skills, they might need some financial help," said chief operating officer Ou Zhiqi.

While Bandboo's unemployment insurance is targeted at workers who have been laid off, the retrenchment benefits scheme is for companies.

It aims to "help them carry out fair and responsible retrenchment without incurring an excessive financial burden during their restructuring".

Consumers pay a monthly membership fee and an insurance premium to be part of Bandboo's insurance platform.

If a worker covered by its unemployment insurance gets retrenched, he will receive three months' salary capped at a total of $18,000, spread over five months.

Bandboo is not regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). A platform that allows individuals to come together to insure one another for certain risks and does not perform the role of an insurer or an insurance intermediary, will not fall under MAS regulation, its spokesman said.

Another company making waves in the insurtech sector is digital insurance app PolicyPal, which became the first financial technology firm to join the MAS "regulatory sandbox" in March.

The programme allows start-ups and large financial companies to experiment with new products and services in a controlled environment.

PolicyPal is a mobile app that digitises and collates users' insurance policies, giving them a useful digital folder of their policies. The platform also analyses users' existing insurance coverage and suggests improvements.

Established insurers are starting to sit up and take notice of developments in insurtech.

AIA, MetLife and NTUC Income are among those running accelerator programmes or innovation centres with the aim of working with start-ups to devise new products and services.

chiaym@sph.com.sg


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