Start-up

App that helps you manage your insurance matters

Ms Yap with Mr Wong (far left) and Mr Ng. PolicyPal is in talks with insurance firms in the region and is looking to expand into Australia, Hong Kong and Thailand.
Ms Yap with Mr Wong (left) and Mr Ng. PolicyPal is in talks with insurance firms in the region and is looking to expand into Australia, Hong Kong and Thailand.PHOTO: GIN TAY FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

PolicyPal digitises and collates policies so users can analyse the extent of their coverage

Scouring through stacks of insurance documentation to check the extent of coverage while in the midst of a medical crisis can be a needlessly stressful experience.

This was what happened to Ms Val Yap, 29, two years ago, when her mother was diagnosed with cancer and she had her insurance claim unexpectedly rejected because of several lapses they were unaware of.

The hassle of hunting for and sorting out old policy letters and documents gave Ms Yap the idea of a digital alternative for consolidating insurance policies and documents.

This led to the creation of PolicyPal, which Ms Yap founded this year with two programmers, Mr Rick Wong and Mr Ng Jun Wei, both 21.

PolicyPal is a mobile app, for both Android and iOS, which digitises and collates users' insurance policies, giving them a convenient digital folder of their policies.

It has garnered 1,200 users since it was launched two months ago and the start-up is in the process of raising $300,000 in seed funding.

It is the first app of its kind in Singapore and was developed in the space of six weeks when the company took part in Startupbootcamp FinTech Singapore, a specialised accelerator programme for fintech firms in the region.

It is a forerunner in the fledgling field of insurtech, or insurance technology, which aims to reduce the complexity of insurance into something simple and accessible for users through the use of technology.

While insurance companies may have their own apps for their policies, PolicyPal is the first to let users collate all their policies from a range of insurers into one platform.

Users take a picture of the first page of their insurance policies using the in-app camera, which is then run through an image-recognition software to pick out key details of the policy.

"It picks out the policy number, premiums, coverage and inception and expiry dates," said Mr Wong. "With all the information, users will then know what they're covered for and what they're not."

Users' coverage is presented in a clear graphical overview that gives them key information, such as premiums and types of coverage, at a glance. Users can also request a free portfolio review to see if they are under-insured or overpaying in premiums. The process typically takes up to 48 hours.

"We digitise policy information so users can have a single overview of all the policies they own," said Ms Yap, who left her job at OCBC in April to start PolicyPal.

"This way, it's easier for them to see and understand what they are really paying for, and where they're not covered," she said.

The app can pick out gaps in coverage and suggest to the users to consider getting a policy in those areas.

"Let's say you have a term life insurance policy. Sometimes you're covered for death, or total permanent disability, but you're not covered for early critical illness. The app can pick that out and let you know what's missing," said Mr Ng.

The majority of their users - 70 per cent - are in their late 20s and early 30s.

Some users have just one policy while others have as many as 12. On average, Singaporeans hold about three policies, with health, term life and group life policies being the most popular, said Ms Yap.

Users are also able to buy policies via the app itself, and Ms Yap said the company is in talks with more insurance companies here to sell policies through the app.

PolicyPal currently works with three financial advisers who the app will refer users to.

Ms Yap said: "They will have to meet the advisers face to face to close the deal.The advisers earn a commission from the deal, and we also get a cut."

Her firm is in talks with insurance companies around the region and is looking to expand into Australia, Hong Kong and Thailand.

"Insurance is a very complex product. We're trying to make the user experience better. The goal is to make insurance simple and transparent, " said Ms Yap.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2016, with the headline 'App that helps you manage your insurance matters'. Print Edition | Subscribe