Opinion

Here’s Why The Digitization of the Insurance Industry is Going To Have a Huge Impact For Singaporeans

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Mark Cheng

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When some Singaporeans think of insurance, they still get nightmares of their army or university friends whom they haven’t spoken to for ages suddenly giving them a ring to “meet up for coffee”. Others recall harrowing experiences of complicated claims procedures, and having to fill in form after form, only to reach a dead end and realize they aren’t going to be able to make their claim.

The truth is the insurance industry as a whole still has a long way to go in terms of making any real progress in engaging its consumers at a broader level. For many Singaporeans, dealing with products like life insurance might sometimes almost feel like they are signing away their life savings into an unknown abyss. There definitely also needs to be a lot more education on the difference between actual coverage and what is deemed an “investment”.

Then there’s general insurance, where people either are too lazy to make sure they find out what the best policy is, or in the case of products like travel insurance, don’t feel that it’s all that necessary until something happens. Things have been progressing, however, and with new players in the game starting to up the ante, this could be hugely beneficial to Singaporeans.

The attempt to enter a fast-moving digital landscape was a step in the right direction, but still fell very short of user experience expectations. While that may change with newcomers like FWD on board, things are currently at quite a sad state.

 

How Have Things Been Changing?

For a while now, the two main insurers leading the charge when it’s come to online applications for insurance policies has been Aviva and DirectAsia. The ability to do a lot of the paperwork online instead of having to make a trip down to a branch at an inconvenient time was a breath of fresh air for some consumers.

The issue here was that a lot of the processes were merely a replication online of offline processes. Think application forms with 20+ questions, and repeatedly having to provide information that you might have previously already given.

While bringing things online might be a step in the right direction, not understanding user behaviour online and how much more optimised things can be when done digitally doesn’t really do much to move the industry forward.

Then there was the introduction of the compareFIRST platform, which sadly failed to do anything more than just be an informational platform. Any further action that could be taken still mostly required the user to go offline. When it comes to something simple like a Term Life Direct Purchase Insurance (DPI) policy, which most Singaporeans could be starting their insurance coverage with, making the purchase process so tedious really does nothing to close the coverage gap in Singapore.

 

What is Happening Now?

With all these things in mind, new kids on the block have been appearing, starting with newcomer FWD. At first glance, their site does look a lot cleaner than most other financial institutions’ websites. But as we already know, appearances can be somewhat deceptive when it comes to websites. However, what is really exciting is what is happening underneath.

Armed with a much more refined user application experience, it’s immediately apparent that this is very different from filling in your typical multi-page form in a font size that might require an insurance payout for damaged eyesight. They are also very clear on making sure that their customers don’t have to keep filling in details that they’ve already previously provided. Their products are something else altogether, with some extremely unique and locally relevant features. We’ll go in to that separately so follow us on Facebook to stay tuned.

The other key customer pain point which they very quickly identified was, as you might have already guessed, claims. Ever thought you’d be able to make travel insurance claims by just taking a screenshot of your boarding pass and sending it via Whatsapp? Well, FWD is pushing the boundaries of just how easy it is to be able to make a claim, something that itself is already a huge headache. Having your profile and details all saved up in their database also means that you’re not going to have to waste precious time doing repeated administrative work.

 

How is this beneficial to Singaporeans?

Let’s just put it out there that there is still quite a measure of trust that needs to be rebuilt in the insurance industry. While we might certainly exist in a more informed age now than we did, say, just 10 years ago, complicated processes both in terms of getting a product and making claims just erodes the perceived value the product actually does have.

In case you’ve never read our insurance articles before, we’re pretty strong believers in most insurance products in principle. But as it is, making sure you’re well informed is enough of an uphill battle (believe me, I had to go through it too), much less having to then deal with the pain of dealing with mountains of forms.

Hopefully, what FWD brings to the market now will be a renewed perspective on what customer experience should really be like, and how the interaction between insurer and customer can be a much closer knit one. In the meantime, if you still aren’t too sure about what we’re talking about, you should go check it out for yourself.

What are your thoughts on how you would like the digital insurance landscape to change? What else can be improved? Share your thoughts with us here!

This article was brought to you in collaboration with FWD. 

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Mark Cheng

I rant and rave a lot, but when I'm not busy doing that, I'm managing the content for MoneySmart. I love Singapore, but I also believe in helping it to improve bit by bit, and that's where MoneySmart comes in. Have some thoughts? Drop me an email at mark@moneysmart.sg.