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HK insurtech startup launches medical coverage for pets

A Hong Kong-based insurance technology startup launched its first product recently, a line of medical plans for pets called Pawfect Care.

The company will introduce other products, including cyber insurance and medical coverage for humans, all available completely online, over the next 12 months.

The firm’s Co-Founder and CEO stated that it took the company two years to launch Pawfect Care because of the stringent regulatory approval process required to get an insurance license in Hong Kong.

The first two virtual insurance licenses issued by Hong Kong’s Insurance Authority went to companies owned by existing insurance providers, to encourage more legacy players to go digital.

The company was the first independent insurance company to start online to be granted a license. It will gradually launch cyber and human medical insurance plans over the next year.

The CEO stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has created a “paradigm shift,” because face-to-face activities have declined dramatically, and the Insurance Authority is now issuing new virtual insurance licenses and allowing more products to be sold online.

The company decided to start with pet insurance because the company estimates that even though there are about half a million pet dogs and cats in Hong Kong, only about 3% of them have medical insurance despite the high cost of veterinary care.

The firm lets customers buy and manage policies and file claims through a mobile app. It says that about 90% of approved claims will be paid within two working days.

In response to the pandemic, Pawfect Care’s pet insurance includes coverage of medical costs related to COVID-19. The company emphasizes that there have only been a few known cases of pets testing positive for the virus so far and no evidence of them acting as carriers so far, but added the coverage for customers’ peace of mind.

According to another article, there many opportunities for insurers to grow their business by embracing insurtech and extending coverage to the Greater Bay Area (GBA), according to leading industry players, experts and regulators at the Asian Insurance Forum hosted by the Insurance Authority (IA) on 10 December 2019.

In her opening keynote address, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, and the forum’s officiating guest, said GBA development and the Belt and Road Initiative present huge potential to the insurance sector.

Since the announcement of the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (ODP) in February 2019 and the third plenary meeting of the Leading Group for the Development of GBA on November, 16 new policy measures to strength Hong Kong’s status as a global risk management centre have been formulated

Among other things, Hong Kong can become the risk management centre for state-owned enterprises investing in major Belt and Road projects and looking to expand their market presence.

The CE also noted that fintech is rapidly changing the landscape of the insurance industry; and assured Hong Kong is on its way to realising the vast opportunities presented by fintech.

As a regulator, Hong Kong does see insurtech as a positive disruption to the market and acknowledges its role in fostering its adoption to enhance policyholder protection, and to bring insurance to under-served segments of the population, the Chairman of the IA stated.

As part of the government-led drive to foster fintech development, the IA has so far issued virtual insurer licenses under the Fast Track scheme to one life insurer and one general insurer, both of which are now operational. The Insurtech Sandbox provides a controlled environment for insurers to test innovative solutions using real market data, he said, adding that four out of the six approved applications had been rolled out.

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