Thailand eyed for innovative insurance services

Corporate June 02, 2018 01:00

By NOPHAKHUN LIMSAMARNPHUN
THE NATION

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SINGAPORE’S tech start-up, Hearti is expanding its revolutionary insurance services into the Thai market with a focus on micro-insurance and on-demand policies.



According to Keith Lim, founder and chief executive officer, the Hearti platform uses artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technologies to create new market segments. The Thai market is under-insured so there are a lot of business opportunities for new services, he said.

Due to new technologies, it is now possible to provide insurance coverage for virtually all kinds of products and services as the new platform allows add-on micro-insurance which is both convenient for consumers and economically-viable for insurers.

For example, customers can buy time-specific insurance for their mobile phones, electronic gadgets, watches, cameras or luxury handbags while they are travelling.

To do so, just take photos of the items with mobile phones and send them online to the insurer’s digital platform for an instant service.

Lim said micro insurance for e-commerce is also expected to grow rapidly due to the popularity of online commerce, especially for expensive items such as jewellery.

Previously, it was not practical to provide micro-insurance due to the lack of convenience and high costs.

Lim said Hearti, whose platform is currently used by eight insurance firms and two banks such as Sompo of Japan, Maybank of Malaysia, and Manulife Insurance, has approached several life and general insurance firms in Thailand to use its technologies to meet the Thai consumers’ current lifestyle.

The business model allows insurers to pay a one-time fee, or on an annual basis, or on a transaction fee basis.

As insurance policies go digital in the form of smart contracts which are stored on the blockchain platform, he said, claims can be processed instantly and more efficiently without the need for multiple manual and paperwork.

In addition, blockchain is highly secured so it helps prevent fraud in the insurance industry.

The Hearti platform uses both private and public blockchains to facilitate its online insurance services for personal, accident, health and other coverage.

Customers use the public blockchain system to buy their insurance policies in the form of smart contracts by verifying their digital ID and paying online, while the insurers rely on their private blockchain system.

Lim said the system links all stakeholders such as insurers, banks, hospitals and wellness businesses on the same platform to create an eco-system for cross-border, cross-industry, and multiple products.

Lim, who sold his earlier digital platform, Mezzofy, in 2014, said insurers who use the Hearti platform benefit from faster time to market as new features can be launched in a matter of weeks.

More insurance firms have also turned to use chatbots to replace call centres as AI-powered chatbots are now capable of selling insurance policies to customers.

AI and the use of big data also allow insurers to do dynamic pricing on their travel and health insurance policies in a way similar to Grab taxies’ pricing system.

For example, if there are typhoons in Hong Kong, there would be a surge pricing for travel insurance to reflect a higher risk.

For health insurance, insurers can use online trackers to monitor the customers’ behaviour and their wellness via the apps as customers with good behaviour can be rewarded with a premium discount.

AI and big data can also be used to tie in health insurance packages with yoga, gym, health supplement and other fitness and wellness merchants as in the case of Manulife’s health policies.

For travel and automobile coverage, insurers can also provide a 10-20 per cent discount to customers who drive safely based on actual performance as monitored by mobile apps using the GPS feature such as driving speed, braking and other behavioural patterns.

Lim said customers also benefit from claims automation. For example, those who buy travel insurance can be paid instantly when there are extended flight delays – instead of having to file the claims manually which takes a long time before the money is paid out.

 

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