We’ve all experienced getting offers for insurance to make our lives better. Acquiring insurance for almost everyday actions at this time and day is vital in keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe during rainy days. It’s a product that we could all benefit from someday.
Yet most Filipinos find applying for insurance troublesome because of all the legalities they have to face to secure one. And when the time comes to cash out, it also takes a tedious process to claim the benefits.
As one of the top insurtech companies in Southeast Asia, Igloo hopes to eliminate the hassle. It has a mission of making insurance accessible to all by leveraging data and engaging in real-time risk assessment and end-to-end automated claims management to create a business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) model in insurance solutions for platforms and companies.
Its insurance solutions enable companies to eliminate their exposure to operational risk, create new revenue streams, and optimize and enhance existing products and services.
Mario Berta, Igloo’s country manager for the Philippines, has been in the country for more than 12 years. He knows the struggles of Filipinos when it comes to claiming insurance policies for their daily activities.
Berta has been working in various industries and was one of the executives of Rocket Internet, which helped build the technology ecosystem across the globe. Although technically retired, Igloo gave Berta an offer that’s hard to resist.
“Igloo came to me with an interesting challenge—to restructure and develop an insurtech business in the Philippines. I manage various aspects of commercial operations across Southeast Asia, but I set my focus on the Philippines. I started about two years ago,” he said.
Protecting the gig community and marginalized communities
According to Berta, insurtech enables the distribution of insurance products that were difficult to market. It even works alongside local brands to secure accessibility.
“Today, thanks to our technology, Filipinos can open GCash and buy a gadget protection program or a pet insurance program,” he said.
Unlike most insurance claims, insurtech users only need to take photos of the incident and send them to their supervising platform for real-time processing and immediate results.
Igloo also designed a gig protection program to secure users involved in the gig economy. The rise of the gig economy benefits the new generation of employees, providing new job opportunities and multiple sources of income, as gig workers can work on several jobs simultaneously.
For instance, foodpanda riders can access personal accident insurance with the help of Igloo.
“It’s a very traditional product, but the way we are interconnecting with foodpanda and the way we interact with the rider, that’s where the technology comes in,” Berta said.
He adds that riders facing an unfortunate event don’t need to send information to foodpanda, other riders, or the claims department. Users can easily send proof of the incident via the app, and Igloo can process it immediately.
Even work-from-home employees can access similar insurance policies through Igloo. Moreover, local farmers can also access other policies with the help of Igloo’s insurtech services.
“We have a couple of products in place, and soon we’re bringing in very disruptive ones,” Berta said.
One of the products available is through a partnership with rural banks’ distribution networks.
Berta explained that when farmers get a loan, they also receive personal accident insurance. So when, for example, a farmer injures his leg and misses out on work for several days, the policy can cover the loss during the recovery period.
Another product from Igloo that safeguards farmers from the impact of climate change, which remains a pressing issue today, is weather index insurance.
Berta explained that it’s been available in the Philippines for some time, but most Filipinos found it inaccessible. When farmers secure a loan or purchase weather index insurance from their rural bank, they must work with a courier who will appraise the land to appraise the damages.
“We eliminated that part where it’s costly to service because they need to send someone physically to remote areas of the Philippines to assess the land and damages. That cost has to be passed to the consumer. Otherwise, that product would be a loss,” Berta said.
On the other hand, Igloo works with Japan and soon partners with PAG-ASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration) to take satellite images and detect areas in the Philippines with heavy rainfall.
Through this technology, Igloo can create an algorithm that makes assumptions about weather patterns for an extended period, determining that farmers in the area were affected by any disturbances.
As a result, Filipino farmers don’t have to visit their banks to receive insurance claims. Instead, they will receive a notification saying they can claim the returns from the policy.
Berta promises that Igloo will explore other insurance opportunities to serve Filipino communities better.
Although Berta set his sights on the Philippines, he believes that engaging in insurtech is more than an isolated opportunity. Instead, it’s something the whole SEA region can tap into for various advantages. Nonetheless, his stay in the Philippines gave him insights into the technology and business industries to better navigate and lead Igloo.
“The country is extremely technologically-savvy, but very insurance under-penetrated. I can’t stress this enough. All of us, meaning insurtech players, insurance, regulators, and associations, play a major part in the education of Filipinos, Vietnamese, or Indonesian, wherever we operate, to create awareness about the importance of insurance coverage,” he said.
Even though it may take some time for Filipinos to learn about the disruptive advantages of insurtech, companies like Igloo, with the partnership of local private establishments and the government, could reinforce the education to show what people can gain from buying insurance policies.
With Igloo, Filipinos don’t have to purchase insurance policies through the traditional approach, which involves too much paperwork and extensive processing. It also serves as a bridge for underserved communities and upcoming economies to secure themselves from unforeseeable circumstances.
Indeed technology has come a long way in protecting and making lives easier for everyone.