Former Direct Asia managers launch Singapore insurtech firm with BGL parent


The owner of BGL group has teamed up with the co-founder of Direct Asia to launch a new insurtech start-up in Singapore.

Simon Birch, the former managing director of Direct Asia, left that business in July 2015 following its acquisition by Hiscox to form Auto & General's first South-east Asian venture with the backing of BHL.

The business was recently licensed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and began trading as Budget Direct at the start of the year, promising to "make it easier, faster and cheaper to secure quality cover with savings of up to 15-20%, or more, on their premiums".

Auto & General has been operating in the Australian market since 2000.

Budget Direct CEO Birch said: "We know Singaporeans are value conscious consumers. They are also active users of technology. By converging our value-based approach with leading technology, we hope our entry into the local market will see more consumers convert to purchasing insurance direct as they discover it isn't as complicated as they have been led to believe.

"Insurance isn't hard to understand, though this misconception keeps agents and brokers in business. Car insurance is based on known facts; everyone knows what sort of car they own, how they use it and who else used it; add any additional extras that they need and they're done - with the ability to buy a policy in 10 minutes or less."

To tie in with the launch the business has introduced a brand mascot Budsy, a sock puppet that has been created by Cohort Media to demystify insurance to show consumers just how simple it can be.

Budget Direct added: "Translating the industry's buzzwords and acronyms into easy consumer-friendly language, Budsy proves that insurance is so simple, "even a sock puppet can do it".

"For a long time, buying insurance has been made out to be complicated and hard. With Budget Direct Insurance we want to show Singaporeans how easy it is and how much people can save when they go direct," added the head of marketing for Auto and General South-east Asia, Geoffrey Dickman - who previously held the same role at Direct Asia.

"Introducing Budsy as the cheerful spokes puppet allows us to challenge the convention of how most Singaporeans buy their insurance. Within a relatively cold and impersonal category, we can be direct in our messaging in a way that is disruptive and engaging."

On top of online and contact centre, the brand has also opened a customer care hub at Singapore Shopping Centre for those who want face to face service.

BGL has been tipped to complete an initial public offering in 2017, although BHL is expected to continue to keep a significant stake-holding should the business complete an IPO.

Post already runs the successful Digital Insurance Collective in the UK as a meeting place for like-minded insurtech specialists from both incumbent and start-up players who want to #wakeupinsurance.

If you work in the Singapore and/or Hong Kong / other Asia-Pacific markets and are interested in joining - or indeed sponsoring - an Asian version of the Digital Insurance Collective for 2017 please email [email protected] with your details.



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