HK welcomes its first fully digital life insurer

From left: Mr Greg So, independent non-executive director of Blue; Mr Chris Wei, global chairman of Aviva Digital; Ms Carol Hui, executive director, Long Term Business Division of the Insurance Authority; Mr Charles Hung, CEO of Blue; Mr Jie Liu, par
From left: Mr Greg So, independent non-executive director of Blue; Mr Chris Wei, global chairman of Aviva Digital; Ms Carol Hui, executive director, Long Term Business Division of the Insurance Authority; Mr Charles Hung, CEO of Blue; Mr Jie Liu, partner of Hillhouse; and Mr Poshu Yeung, vice-president of the International Business Group of Tencent.PHOTO: BLUE

Hong Kong's life insurance sector has finally taken a step forward with the launch of the city's first fully digital life insurer, joining the ranks of Singapore where the online selling of life insurance has been around for a few years.

Aviva Hong Kong yesterday launched the group's first pure digital life insurance brand called Blue, which is backed by Tencent Holdings and Hillhouse Capital.

Aviva and Hillhouse each have a 40 per cent stake in the venture, while Tencent owns 20 per cent.

Currently, the new digital insurer offers a flexible term life insurance plan as well as a simple critical illness product, which are cheaper than what is available on the market.

Insurance plans sold online cut out the middleman or agents, so costs are lower.

Products offered by Blue will do away with the need to fill in paperwork and consumers have to answer only a few questions to make their purchases.

Said Mr Charles Hung, the digital insurer's chief executive: "Blue is the first digital life insurer in Hong Kong and brings together three industry leaders to revolutionise the insurance industry. We strive to provide solutions catered to customers' needs, and offer consumers anytime-anywhere accessibility in Hong Kong to purchase insurance online, giving them simple, flexible and affordable protection at their fingertips."

In an interview in December 2015, Mr Chris Wei, executive chairman of Aviva Asia and FPI, and global chairman of Aviva Digital, had talked about the group's plans to modernise and digitalise its operations.

The challenge with selling life insurance policies online is that many of the plans are complex. At that time, Mr Wei said simplifying product design to meet customers' needs would be the key to getting around this issue.

The launch comes in the wake of the Hong Kong government's huge tech push. It has, among other things, rolled out measures to help insurers use technology to improve claims processes.

Singapore joined the digital life insurance bandwagon about three years ago, counting Etiqa, FWD and Singapore Life among the pioneers.

But the take-up rate of life insurance products online remains low. In the first half of the year, life products sold without intermediaries made up only 5 per cent of total weighted new business premiums, based on data from the Life Insurance Association Singapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2018, with the headline 'HK welcomes its first fully digital life insurer'. Print Edition | Subscribe