Manulife introduces online claims system in Hong Kong in push to cut costs through digital technology

The Canadian insurer is the latest to look to so-called insurtech after the industry regulator in the city announced a pilot scheme to promote innovation

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 January, 2018, 10:50pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 January, 2018, 12:04pm

Manulife, the second-largest life insurer in Hong Kong, expects half of the claims under its medical insurance policies to be submitted online within a year, as it joins the rush to embrace digital technology as a way of cutting costs.

The Canadian company has launched a website,, to allow policyholders to claim online, and sees other potential uses for innovative technology, or the so-called insurtech, in its future operations.

“Some products, health insurance, MPF and mutual funds can actually be sold online,” Guy Mills, chief executive of Manulife Hong Kong, said in a news conference on Monday, referring to the Mandatory Provident Fund, Hong Kong’s investment-based pension scheme.

Manulife is the latest insurer to take on digital technology after the industry regulator, the Hong Kong Insurance Authority, launched a so-called sandbox scheme last September to encourage technological innovation.

Sandbox schemes allow companies to conduct pilot projects with new technologies for selected customers. Since the authority’s announcement, MetLife, AIA, Allianz and Zurich Insurance have all unveiled insurtech plans.

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Insurtech is a fast-growing sector globally, particularly in the US and Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region is also catching up. Data from venture capital database CB Insights reveals that insurtech investment globally totalled US$1.7 billion in 2016, double that of 2014.

Mills said that policyholders using its claims website would only need to provide basic personal information and a photograph of the bill for most claims under a certain cost limit, eliminating the need to fill in forms and post them.

“That will save millions of pieces of paper we handle every year,” Mills said.

“About 30 to 40 per cent of the calls coming related to the medical claims, that would probably be reduced if we’re rolling out the claimsimple solution,” he said.