AXA to boost health insurance products in Hong Kong, launch digital insurance platform

Most Hongkongers get medical insurance through their employer or as an add-on to life policies - AXA wants more to buy cover as a stand-alone product

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 June, 2018, 1:03pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 June, 2018, 9:29pm

French insurer AXA plans to invest HK$200 million (US$25.48 million) on financial technology development in Hong Kong this year to promote sales and reach younger consumers, according to its senior executive.

Koh Yi Mien, managing director of health and employee benefits of AXA Hong Kong, said the company invested HK$65 million in fintech in 2017 and plans to dramatically increase the investment this year.

The HK$200 million earmarked investment would go towards the launch of a digital platform this autumn to enable customers to buy products, check balances and submit claims online, she said.

AXA is joining other insurers such as AIA, Manulife, MetLife, and HSBC which have announced their digital plans after the Insurance Authority of Hong Kong in September announced a range of measures to promote insurtech to cut costs and provide better services to policyholders.

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“The millennials and the young generation of people like to connect with each other online. The only way to reach them is by selling them products online,” Koh said in an interview with the South China Morning Post in the AXA office in Wong Chuk Hang.

Half of millennials – or those between 18 to 35 years old – use social media to record their experience after using a product, according to a study of consultancy firm McKinsey & Company.

Meanwhile, Generation X consumers – or those aged between 36 to mid 50s – view digital entertainment as an education tool, underpinned by smart technology and an expanding, globally connected internet, the report said.

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To meet the demand of these tech savvy consumers, Koh said AXA would expand online sales in coordination with the company’s 5,200 sales agents and bank partners.

But she said the development of digital and insurtech would not affect its recruitment drive as the company is seeking to expand its sales force to 5,500 by the end of this year.

“We would offer different choices for customers. Some policy holders like to do everything online themselves while some would like to talk to agents,” she said.

Koh, a mother of three, was trained as a medical doctor. Born in Malaysia, she migrated to Melbourne with her family as a teenager.

She joined AXA Hong Kong late last year as the insurer sought to ramp up its health insurance division. As part of the restructuring, AXA made medical insurance into one of the company’s three major business lines, alongside life and general products.

Most Hongkongers get their medical insurance coverage by group medical plan under their employer, or as an add-on feature to their life policies.

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AXA, which is Europe's second-biggest insurer by market capitalisation behind Allianz, wants to see more policyholders buy medical cover as a stand-alone product.

“If all people rely on public hospital facilities, the system is not sustainable,” she said.

Private health insurance can also offer education and support to help clients maintain a healthy lifestyle and to assist in finding the right health specialist and treatment, she added.

The Hong Kong government is planning to offer tax incentives next April for the Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme. Koh said she believes the measure would boost health insurance sales in Hong Kong.