Welcome to this week’s post! This post explores some of the important developments in insurance tech in Asia and takes a step forward to identify actions that can accelerate the pace of insurance innovation in this region.

At the Heart of Insurance

Over the past 10 years of having been in the insurance industry in various senior executive roles, I’ve become truly passionate about insurance (I’m not BS-ing you, hopefully you’ll understand where I’m coming from by the end of the post!). At its core, insurance helps safeguard societies.

If you think about it at an even more basic level: what is insurance if not a risk transfer tool that helps safeguard loved ones through times of adversity. So it has always troubled me that an industry that is supposed to protect people has, over the years, come to be viewed with so much suspicion! Mid of last year, I was sitting down and thinking about how I can contribute to building a better future that I want for my two young kids. Further inspired by the tangible positive changes that I was seeing taking place in other industries, like transport, accommodation and banking, I’ve started to actively contemplate how do I best contribute to building a future in which “insuring” your neighbors and neighborhoods are OK, in case anything unfortunate happens, becomes a new norm. A future in which insurance helps to connect communities and is loved by them, that’s the future that I want my kids to live in. Asia being our home I’ve chosen to focus my efforts here.

Insurance Innovation in Asia Today

As I’ve started to explore who’s doing what in the insurance innovation space, I’ve connected with a few hundred people across Asia actively interested in this space. One of them is Hugh Terry, who launched the Digital Insurer and is generating a lot of great thought leadership content together with his team, advising insurers on the best digitization strategies. I’ve also met a number of Innovation Labs started by insurers in Asia and discovered their key pillars of focus on (a) incremental internal digitization (b) cultural transformation and (c) incubation of ideas that would safeguard the insurer. Lastly, I’ve explored other happenings around Asia in this space and met with a few Fintech accelerators to understand their focus.

After reflecting on all the information I have gathered, I think it is safe to say that Insurtech in Asia is at a budding stage. Unlike London, the Asian insurance ecosystem is yet to fully mature and it exists largely in discrete pieces.

Key Lessons Learned

Through my exploratory process I’ve left the shelter of the corporate environment and met with explosive entrepreneurial energy. Why wait for someone to do it when I can help ignite the wave of change in insurance for Asia! As I’ve got started, I cautious to remind myself about some key lessons I’ve learned that will help me avoid the common pitfalls:

  • Avoid the trap of impactless events/discussion which create an illusion of progress while lacking any substantial action/outcome;
  • Choose partners carefully and ensure diversity of information sources – as partners/advisors that substantially influence the direction of an initiative through information filtering and issues advocacy;;
  • Everyone has an agenda, its key to understand what the agenda is and find areas of potential alignment of interests;
  • Most corporate leaders’ time horizon is 2-3 years max and while innovation is a good branding story it will not be high on their agenda as they aim to deliver the short term value to shareholders and position themselves for future career progression.

Launching INSURTECH ASIA

Now that you understand my motivation, the question is what am I doing to help bring about the change. I’ve chosen to first focus on creating an insurance idea launch platform to jumpstart the Insurtech ecosystem. I believe there needs to be a fair amount of transformation to re-shape the insurance industry into a positive force and it will not be without a large number of casualties. Startups will play a large part in that transformation, in some cases successfully partnering and in some cases making the present incumbents completely irrelevant.

Let me now share with you the pieces of the Insurtech ecosystem blueprint that I’m piloting in Singapore with an eye to quickly rolling out across Asia. I’m very proud of the progress that we’ve managed to accomplish in the short few months and I’m happy to have found a number of dedicated/talented people from both within insurance as well as outside, helping to lay this foundation and bring about the change.

The ecosystem map above takes inventory of various elements and should be read from left to right (from idea to startup). Colors highlight the maturity of each element to identify areas that need strengthening. The ecosystem gathers the pieces and connects them together utilizing resources and enablers to generate and validate ideas, and scale startups.

In practice that means there will be activities that will bring about community of action around insurance innovation, helping to build awareness, attract and cultivate fresh talent/ideas and connect startups with the best resources to maximize their chances of success.

The INSURTECH ASIA Roadmap

Again, my intent is to ensure that this doesn’t fizzle out and with that in mind the following points provide the broad outline of what we plan to execute:

  • Insurance deep-dive events to help give startups insights into industry;
  • Events bringing startups together with corporates to learn from each other and explore partnership potential;
  • Hack-a-thons / Design-a-thons to attract outside talent and fresh ideas;
  • Topical events to equip Insurtech startups with key skills for them to succeed;
  • Reverse pitches for accelerators/incubators to pitch “why us” to startups;
  • Thought leadership through online content to help progress conversation between events;
  • Network of mentors and key enablers, which can help be a sounding board and remove roadblocks through various stages from idea to building for scale.

To sum it all up, Insurtech Asia will attract, connect, and empower likeminded industry practitioners, entrepreneurs and teams. Together we will bring on the future of insurance in Asia.

Connect with us on Twitter: @insurtechasia