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EC News Asia Edition (13th December 2017)

  • Publish Date: Posted over 6 years ago
  • Author:by Abigail Lee

Round-up of the latest news and developments from the Asian insurance market with stories from Britannia, Generali, QBE and more.

Britannia appoints O'Flaherty for new Singapore branch

Britannia P&I has appointed former CEO of JLT Middle East, John O'Flaherty to set up its new branch in Singapore.

Britannia P&I is acquiring Pandisea in Singapore, its P&I correspondent in the port. Correspondents help P&I members with troubleshooting and support the claims handling process.

Britannia P&I has applied to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) for a licence to write insurance.

Generali Asia names Bruce de Broize as head of distribution

Generali Asia has named Bruce de Broize as its new head of distribution for Asia.

Based in Hong Kong, de Broize will be responsible for driving growth in life and P&C businesses spanning Asia, by formulating and implementing new strategies for all distribution channels.

Prior to joining Generali, de Broize served as regional chief distribution officer at AXA Asia and was responsible for building professional distribution capability, distribution management and transformation of Life & P&C channels.

He brings over 29 years’ experience within the insurance industry having held senior management roles in both Life and P&C insurance companies in South Africa, Australia, and Asia Pacific (in particular Korea, China, Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong).

QBE leverages AI and open source data

QBE has revealed that QBE Ventures has closed an investment into Cytora, a three-year-old London-based start-up.

Cytora uses artificial intelligence (AI) and open source data to help commercial insurers lower loss ratios, grow premiums and improve expense ratios.

Additionally, QBE has entered into a commercial use agreement for the Cytora product. In 2018, the Cytora Risk Engine will be deployed across QBE property and casualty lines.

The Cytora Risk Engine, driven by machine learning algorithms, combines an insurer’s internal data on a specific cover with external information from a wide spectrum of sources. This generates a risk score, which provides enhanced insight into expected claims activity on the whole portfolio and also at an individual risk level.

The system helps identify patterns of good and bad risks over time. These insights then enable insurers to achieve improved loss ratios and premium growth while delivering more accurate and fair prices to customers.

QBE Ventures, Ted Stuckey said: “This is the second significant partnership QBE has made since setting up QBE Ventures earlier this year and demonstrates our commitment to engaging globally with start-ups from both an investment and commercial perspective.”

The first partnership announced at the end of October was with RiskGenius, a machine learning platform for analysing policy wordings.

CEO, QBE European Operations, Richard Pryce said: “Combining external information with our own internal intelligence gives a more complete view of a risk which in turn enables QBE to provide protection to our customers at a fairer price that reflects the true level of exposure. The partnership with Cytora enables us to accelerate the adoption of advanced analytics in our business and complements the expertise we have been developing in-house.

“Cytora’s technology has broader application beyond risk scoring and will enable us to identify attractive areas that match our risk appetite and expertise but where we are currently underrepresented. This will assist us to focus our efforts on the customer relationships where we can add greatest value.”

QBE Ventures' investment is part of a GBP£4.4mn (USD$5.9mn) funding round for Cytora with other investors including Starr Global Holding, Cambridge Innovation Capital, Cambridge Enterprise, Parkwalk Advisors and an array of angel investors.

For the past year, Cytora has been working selectively with a consortium of commercial insurers to embed its technology. These insurers, including QBE, XL Catlin, and Starr have gained early access to Cytora’s Risk Engine prior to the technology becoming available to the wider market.

20% of insurance workforce in Thailand could lose jobs in digital era

Secretary-General of Thai General Insurance Association, Anon Vangvasu has forecast that in the next 5-10 years, a fifth of the workforce in the Thai insurance industry could lose their jobs as insurers shift to digital technology.

Vangvasu said: "Competition in the insurance market is very high, pressuring players to cut operating costs by adopting new technologies to replace human jobs."

The Bangkok Post reported that the insurance industry has been adopting digital technology in its back office operations for some time, and that has eliminated the need for some jobs dealing with paperwork.

Anon said: "In the next 5-10 years, the effects of innovation and new technology on employment in the [insurance] sector will be seen largely in customer service."

He said insurance firms have been issuing policies in electronic form and that while the technology has yet to be widely accepted among customers, its use will gradually rise and the number of employees tasked with policy delivery to customers will fall accordingly.

Insurance claims going through electronic channels like mobile applications are also rising quickly, reducing the need for employees whose job it is to process these claims for customers. 

However, with digital technology on the rise this means there will be an increase in jobs that require analytical skills as they cannot be completely replaced by computers or robots, Anon said.

Secretary-General of the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB), Porametee Vimolsiri said disruptive technology has already affected many sectors including media, banking, tourism, transport, energy and retail. Even though some jobs will disappear, new jobs will be created or demand for other job categories will increase.

So far in Thailand, there has not been any remarkable changes in the job industry attributed to AI, however that future is close as the country has started implementing the Thailand 4.0 policy to move towards digitisation.

The government has been preparing platforms such as broadband internet, a mobile payment system and a regulatory sandbox so that access and adoption of technology is more inclusive and faster.

Major insurer outlines opportunities in Belt-Road Initiative

One of China’s largest insurance groups, China Pacific Insurance (Group) Co is outlining business opportunities in the Belt and Road Initiative, according to the group's president He Qing.

So far, CPIC has provided a package of insurance coverage and risk management services for a number of major overseas projects and companies like China-Europe freight trains, overseas assets by China Guangdong Nuclear Power Company and China Oil & Foodstuffs Corporation, reported China Daily.

This year, the insurer also set up a specialised team to serve business related to the Belt and Road Initiative.

Quing said: "Insurers have a big role to play in taking part in the great initiative, such as providing a package of insurance coverage and risk management consulting for Chinese enterprises' global expansion, providing financing for them via equity and debt investment or initiating an industrial fund or infrastructure fund."

According to chairman of China Pacific Property Insurance, Gu Yue, there is an urgent need to set up a risk evaluation and early warning system for Chinese enterprises taking part in the initiative.

Interest grows in InsurTech

China has begun pilot testing projects to explore the commercial applications of InsurTech.

The successes of the pilot projects have encouraged more and more players to join the InsurTech revolution.

To support growth in this segment, the China InsurTech Development White Paper was published in May this year.

The White Paper indicates that there are 10 emerging technologies (blockchain, AI, IoT, big data, cloud computing, telematics, driverless cars, UAV, DNA genetic testing, and wearable devices) which will disrupt the insurance industry and reshape the future.

Many challenges still remain for example regulatory support, business models, industrial acceptance, and professional skills, etc.

To this end, the SZ&W Group, advised by Insurance Research Institute of Fudan University, is organising InsurTech Innovation Congress China 2018.