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Library: Swiss Re – Going digital: Insights to optimise consumer appetite for online insurance in Asia 2020

January 2021 featured reports:

In line with the broadly regional theme of this month’s library entries, we are featuring two reports from Swiss Re on digital transformation and consumer interest in online insurance in two different regions in Asia: India, and Malaysia/Indonesia.

 The Digital Insurer reviews Swiss Re’s Report on Going digital: Insights to optimise consumer appetite for online insurance in India 2020

Appetite for risk products has increased in Asian markets

The first is India. Like everywhere else, the pandemic has accelerated the use and adoption of digital platforms within the country. This presents opportunities for insurance companies to connect and serve their customers digitally.

Awareness of health insurance has been raised by the pandemic. Consumers have a new appreciation of risk to health and the benefits of insurance. This has led to an increase in purchases.

The purchase of insurance has moved online, but also across other platforms, in particular e-commerce and payments, which are the most popular, as well as mobility.

Appetite for risk products

Swiss Re surveyed consumers in five major Indian cities last summer. It probed the appetite for six life and health products tailored for smartphones that require few questions and have small premiums.

More than 70% said they intended to buy all of them, though critical illness and hospital cash policies were the most popular.

Younger consumers were more likely than those above the age of 50 to make a digital purchase, the most likely were those already familiar with apps. But there was no division in the sexes.

Show me the numbers

The pace of India’s digital adoption is rapid and in part has driven the demand for digital products.

Between 2014 and 2019, the value of digital transactions increased to more than INR70 trillion from a base of almost zero. Some of that will be down to the falling cost of wireless data from around INR270 per gigabyte to less than INR10, today.


As a result, average usage is up to about 125 gigabytes a year, while the number of wireless data users has grown from around 280 million in 2014 to almost 700 million in 2019. That was more than half of India’s population in 2019, which is a staggering level of adoption.

It is interesting to note, that the burgeoning market has considerably greater confidence in digital insurance products than traditional insurance across all age groups.


The smallest rise in confidence is among the oldest group above 51 years of age, where the increase is from around 60% to 70%.

While youngsters are generally more digital savvy, it was the middle group between 36 and 50 that showed the greatest increase in confidence. This group saw a leap from around 45% confidence in traditional insurance to around 80%.



Focus on simplicity and CX

To be attractive to consumers, these products must be simple, and offer a high quality customer experience (CX). Applications and claims are, as always, the key factors influencing CX. Insurers should focus on getting these things right.

The most popular places to purchase these products has become e-commerce and payment platforms. However, insurers must not ignore the clear desire for consumers to have access to traditional distribution channels.



Concerns in this market about insurers having access to personal data is perhaps lower than might be anticipated, but consumers are not so unsophisticated that they do not understand that this data has value and that they should be rewarded for giving it up.

That said, the survey showed that tailored offerings would be highly valued by consumers, offering encouragement for those looking to reward customers who share data.

What’s the catch?

The usual caveats apply to finding suitable platform partners. Insurers must ensure that they understand the risk and undertake education where necessary.

But there is plenty of scope for developing and trialling new products with platform partners, though infrastructure challenges will need to be tackled.

Regulators will be as keen as other jurisdictions not only to protect consumers and their data, but ensuring that protocols around money laundering are robust.

The other reporting covers Indonesia and Malaysia, very different markets, though with many similarities. As in India COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation, and many consumers have moved online to manage their everyday needs as elsewhere in the world.

Malaysia and Indonesia

COVID-19 has had a similar impact across south east Asia. Here, a growing youth population, government policy and better infrastructure is driving a boom in the digital economy. This is encouraging some digital ecosystems to extend their reach into the insurance market.

This survey covered 1,200 consumers in Indonesia and Malaysia, looking at the same types of product as the India study.

Similar, but different

Malaysia has greater life and health coverage than Indonesia, but consumers are digital savvy in both markets and are keen to try new apps, increase transaction amounts and also buy insurance online.

Consumers in both markets are familiar with digital platforms and almost all had used at least one in the previous three months for e-commerce or making payments.

There’s an interesting cultural split between the two markets, in that there is greater trust in traditional distribution channels such as banks and insurer websites among Malaysian consumers than Indonesians, who prefer the new digital platforms.

Yet in both countries, income replacement and the reimbursement of medical costs are the two most popular types of policy.

It is interesting to note that the inclusion of pay per use insurance captured the interest of more consumers, even if they were not frequent app users.

Don’t lose the human touch

However, there is a great tradition of using offline distribution channels in these markets. And this could limit the development of digital products if insurers ignore the demand for an omni-channel approach that includes both human interaction as well as digital touch-points.

Attitudes towards the use of personal data were similar to in India, but Malaysian consumers were a little more concerned about sharing it, even if there was a clear benefit in terms of an exchange or reward.

The same structural problems or challenges are faced in these nations, as in India regulatory oversight will need to be satisfied and technology needs to keep pace with the aspirations that insurers and platforms may have to extend their offerings.

For more, see the full reports.

Link to Full India report:: click here

Link to Full Malaysia/Indonesia report:: click here

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