bolttech expands into South Korea through LG U+ partnership
The digitally-native bolttech, which launched in 2020 and has already experienced rapid development, currently serves 7.7 million customers on three continents, offering , and .
The latter will be an important contributing factor to its collaboration with LG U+, which will enable its customers to complement their telco services with insurance options.
“We are excited to introduce South Korea’s first mobile phone switch service to our consumers through the partnership with bolttech,” said Sara Kim, Vice President of Marketing Group at LG U+.
“We believe this will be a game-changing service for consumers, providing them with a seamless and convenient switch service in just a few clicks.”
Already present in the US, Austria, India, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia and many other locations, bolttech’s expansion into South Korea is viewed by Rob Schimek, Group CEO, has particularly significant:
“South Korea is an important market for us, and we are thrilled to partner with LG U+, a household name and one of the largest carriers in South Korea with a huge customer base. Together we can bring cutting-edge device protection solutions to their tech-savvy customers.”
Expanding insurtech in APAC
bolttech’s aspirations in South Korea are, perhaps, made apparent by a recent report from , which found that the country’s rate of growth was much higher than other developed economies, owing to a combination of regulatory focus and industry capitalisation.
However, EY also added the caveat that “slowing economic growth and sustained low interest rates are likely to affect the sector’s growth in the coming years.”
Overall, the report advised that “South Korean insurers must accelerate their investments in digital transformation.” Given bolttech’s prominent emphasis on technology, the company is likely to flourish in such an environment.
Insurtechs are winning the race with legacy system companies
Nestled in its own place within the world of financial services, insurance is arguably more unpopular than retail banking.
That’s hardly surprising given that, from a customer service perspective, insurance is something of an off-kilter transaction. You pay a sizable premium in exchange for a service you hope you will never have to use. This image problem is exacerbated by ubiquitous tales of insurers not paying out when it is time to make a claim.
The insurance sector has long been due to an overhaul, and this is where the disruptive force of insurtech comes in - one of fintech’s most upwardly mobile subcategories. Accordingly, last year, insurtech in the UK alone attracted £262m in investment, a growth of 60% on 2019, according to Tech Nation. Insurtech’s momentous growth has been captured in a new report by The AI Journal exploring this burgeoning sector.
What exactly is insurtech?
Put simply, insurtech refers to technological innovations that seek to make insurance cheaper to buy and more efficient to use. In a similar vein to fintech, the large, established institutions have been dipping their toes into insurtech, but it’s the disruptors who are genuinely looking to shake up the status quo, diving into and exploiting those areas that traditionalists have little imperative to explore.
Examples are price comparison sites (one of the earliest forms of insurtech that was eventually snapped up by the insurers it initially sought to disrupt), claims software, customisable policies, or even smart-tech-enabled dynamic policies whose premiums can fluctuate depending on changing circumstances.
The latter, for instance, could use someone’s fitness tracker or smartwatch to monitor fitness levels, thus reducing the premium of a life insurance policy; or track a GPS system that records the location of a car and assesses risk levels accordingly.
Most consumers tend to shop around for their insurance needs and perhaps end up buying their contents insurance with one provider, their car insurance with someone else, and their pet insurance with yet another underwriter. Managing all these different policies, with their varying renewal dates and payment terms can be complex. This has led to the increase in apps that pull everything together.
More prosaically, insurtechs are developing AI that uses machine learning to act as an insurance broker, eliminating the need for a human intermediary and therefore offering more cost-effective and impartial advice.
Insurtechs and risk
But there are some obstacles in the way of insurtech’s continued evolution.
Insurance companies are averse to risk. Understandably so, as at the crux of the industry is the role of the actuary, whose job it is to analyse and measure the probability and risk of future events. So it’s little wonder that there’s a reluctance among the traditional players to welcome the disruption that insurtech brings.
Insurance is heavily regulated, a minefield of legality and labyrinthine jurisdiction, which means the idea of shaking it up can be anathema. And why would they, when their old-school business models are working perfectly fine?
There’s an understandable nervousness and unwillingness to work with startups, who themselves need to work with the bigger firms in order to underwrite risk.
While it seems like a catch-22 situation, there is growing, if cautious, interest from insurance companies, who can see the benefits of insurance with a friendlier face, innovative solutions, and a competitive edge through differentiation. As that tentativeness dissipates, the growth of insurtech will gather even more momentum.
Tom Allen's analysis is based on the findings of a new report on the fintech and insurtech industries produced by The AI Journal.