Sherry Du joined RGAX as Managing Director, Asia Pacific, a little over a year ago. An actuary by training, she is a rising star in the Asia Pacific insurance market. Recently, Sherry was interviewed by Michael Waitz of Asia Insurtech Podcast. With her actuarial background, Sherry is a big believer in data and how it can help transform the insurance industry both in and around the world. Here are some highlights that we took away from her conversation with Michael.
Data gets a promotion. According to Sherry, data now plays a much wider role in the insurance industry than it did when she started her career. Data not only helps (re)insurers assess risk but also helps them improve services to their customers and maximize efficiencies across their companies.
The expansion of data’s role in the insurance industry is made possible by the amount and variety of new data types available to insurance players. Combining traditional insurance data with much wider data sets (e.g., financial data, etc.) can give (re)insurers a more holistic view of the end customer and help them identify their gaps in coverage, risk profile, and willingness to pay for the coverage they need. This data can also be used during the insurance sales and policyholder onboarding processes to improve customer experience and conversion rates.
Data drives product development. As data provides deep insight into an individual’s protection gap and scenario-based needs, insurers and reinsurers can design suitable products for addressing the individual’s particular needs at all price points.
At the same time, (re)insurers can obtain deeper insight into an individual’s risk profile through data supporting the (re)insurer’s underwriting processes and risk assessments. Sound risk-based pricing protects the carrier’s viability and benefits the policyholder in the long run.
Speed of transformation during COVID-19. No discussion would be complete without touching on how carriers have fared during COVID-19. Sherry was careful not to answer the question in terms of the Asia–Pacific insurance market as a whole. The level of technology used in the insurance industry varies by market and by company, as does the local market reaction to the pandemic.
The market dynamics she’s seeing in Asia Pacific are much like those of insurance markets in other parts of the world. Some carriers have recorded historical highs in sales during COVID-19, while others have slowed their transformation initiatives to focus on other priorities. Insurtech start-up performance varies widely, too, with some start-ups doubling their market values and others having a rough time raising funds as scheduled. Nevertheless, Sherry remains optimistic about the future of insurtech start-ups, as they are driving real change in the insurance industry, and partnerships are a critical component of many carriers’ innovation strategies.
When Michael pointed out that many carriers may be slow to transform because they struggle with outdated systems, Sherry emphasized that digital transformation in a carrier’s business doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Though a carrier might choose to replace their back-office system entirely, they’re just as likely to integrate insurtech solutions into existing technologies and systems. The tech giants are also playing an important role in the Asia Pacific insurance market by creating cutting-edge technologies that help carriers engage consumers and improve offerings.
Partnering for Innovation. We’ve just touched on a few of the reflections Sherry shared in the interview. In addition to providing insights into the role of data, she also dove more deeply into how insurtech partnerships are transforming the insurance industry in Asia Pacific. Listen to the full interview to hear Sherry’s thoughts on alternate distribution channels and her advice for working with insurtech start-ups.