, Malaysia
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Qoala on a tech-driven mission to insure more Malaysians

Its online platform promotes financial literacy and strategic partnerships, aligned with the government’s insurance agenda.

Qoala is an insurtech firm on a mission — that is to bridge the protection gap that exists between Malaysians and the insurance industry. Amidst prevailing technologies, Qoala’s online platform positions itself as a facility for the industry’s closer collaboration with the government and other broader possibilities.

In recent years, the Malaysian insurance market has witnessed a transformative shift driven by technological innovations and changing customer preferences.

Notably, GlobalData reported that Malaysia’s general insurance market is seen to accumulate about $6.6b by 2027. In 2022, the industry saw $4.4b in direct written premiums. If realised, this would make it an 8.3% climb.

Mainly, it will be driven by sales in automobiles and the development of infrastructure, boosting the motor and property coverages. Malaysia’s motor and property insurance accounted for 71% of the total general premiums in the country last year.

“The general insurance industry in Malaysia grew by 10% in 2022, which is higher than the average growth during the last five years,” Sutirtha Dutta, insurance analyst at GlobalData, pointed out. “The growth is attributed to increasing health awareness, the introduction of flood cover for property and motor lines, and an uptick in the output for the manufacturing and mining sectors, which has benefitted property insurance.”

Separately, Qoala said that Malaysia exhibits an insurance penetration of approximately 5.6% of the economy’s gross domestic product (GDP). However, this still falls short of the global average of 7%, which can be a signal for significant growth opportunities.

Jonathan Ong who, as country manager, heads direct-to-consumer operations at Qoala, sees the potential for expansion beyond mandatory motor insurance.

Qoala aims to seize this untapped potential by diversifying its offerings to encompass a range of insurance products including health, property, travel, and personal accident insurance, he said.

Technology as a catalyst

Qoala’s success story is inherently linked to its innovative adoption of digital technology.

The company’s omnichannel approach transcends geographical boundaries, effectively catering to Malaysia’s diverse population of over 30 million people with varying languages, cultures, and preferences.

Ong said their digital platform provides customers with direct access to insurance products, ensuring accessibility even for less digitally-savvy segments of the population.

A key differentiator, he said, is Qoala’s collaboration with insurance providers, enabling direct distribution of insurance products on digital platforms.

“We also do a lot of knowledge sharing with our partners, for example, especially on customer behaviour. For customers who visit our platform, we can share some of the insights and some of the behaviours that can help insurance companies better position their products or better design their products,” Ong told Insurance Asia.

Because of these features, their products are “more accessible, more relevant to the market to the market needs and also much more affordable,” he said.

A few stumbling blocks

Whilst Malaysia’s insurance market presents immense potential, it also faces a few stumbling blocks: limited awareness of insurance, high premiums, and difficulties in assessing insurance products.

But Qoala addresses these challenges head-on by actively engaging in content creation to educate Malaysians on the importance of insurance and financial protection. Through social media and marketing initiatives, Qoala plays on its strengths to position itself as a household name in financial education.

“Financial literacy is a big topic, not just for Qoala, but for the government here in Malaysia as well,” Ong asserted.

The company’s collaborative approach extends to the Malaysian government’s agenda of enhancing financial inclusion and insurance coverage.

By working closely with the central bank, for instance, Qoala becomes a vessel for knowledge sharing and regulatory guidance. Smartly, these initiatives are efforts aligned with national priorities.

“One of the national agendas of the [Bank Negara Malaysia] is to improve financial inclusion and insurance. Insurance coverage is one of them. So, we have very close working relationships with the central bank. And they are also very supportive of how we want to support that agenda,” Ong told Insurance Asia.

“There’s a lot of feedback, a lot of sharing of information and a lot of observations of the market that we share across, and the bank would then advise us on the regulatory side of things as well. So it’s, I would say, a collaborative way of working,” he added.

Prioritising data security

In the era of data-driven decision-making, Qoala places paramount importance on data privacy and security.

“We have a team that is working 24/7 to ensure the integrity of our data. And on top of that, as a company, we have obtained ISO certification for information security as well. We are very careful with how we handle our customer data,” Ong said.

Whilst Qoala leverages customer behaviour data to improve risk assessment and personalise insurance offerings, the focus remains on maintaining customer trust and safeguarding sensitive information.

Looking ahead, Qoala aspires to become the go-to platform for insurance products, positioning itself as a leading player in the industry.

“We want to be the largest, if not the go-to platform I would say, for insurance products. On top of that, we want to aid the national agenda of improving financial inclusion. So to achieve that, we may work on partnerships, and you may work directly with the insurance partners. Anything that helps with the agenda, we will do it,” Ong said.

 

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