GetCover leads in motor insurance comparison
Calyn Yap 
Founder and CEO Paul Khoo.Khoo says GetCover enables the motor insurance agency business to grow and evolve

THE trend of consumers shifting to mobile apps for many of their needs is irreversible. And start-ups and SMEs are tapping on smartphone users to remain competitive and grow their businesses further.

Even new ventures are diversifying and disrupting traditional industries as they seek to expand business opportunities.

Take insurance technology (insuretech) and financial technology (fintech) as examples. Proof of such diversifications, they caught the eye of GetCover Sdn Bhd, a mobile app and IT platform solution provider.

In September, the company launched an app enabling consumers to purchase motor insurance with easy and secure transactions on-the-go. 

The recent liberalisation of motor insurance tariffs means that instead of the simplified and regulated pricing policy that consumers have been used to, motor insurance premiums will be based on a list of risk factors.

Leveraging the changes arising from motor insurance detariffication, the company aims to become the primary comparison tool on consumers’ smartphones.


Saving time

“Rather than having them go through the tedious process of comparing prices, GetCover fills the gap to become their comparison tool.

“The efficiencies of digital distributions have allowed us to develop a product that will improve consumer experiences when purchasing motor insurance,” says its founder and CEO Paul Khoo.

The app automates the entire onboarding, motor insurance and road tax renewal time to within five to 10 minutes.

This favourably compares with the current process which may take about a day, increases productivity and reduces the sales cycle and renewal times.

The app is linked to the systems of Insurance Services Malaysia Bhd and the Road Transport Department Malaysia (JPJ).

Hence, it automatically populates the vehicle and insurance details and requires minimal data entry.

That apart, consumers can also access their policy and vehicle information on the app.

The app automates the entire onboarding, motor insurance and road tax renewal time to within five to 10 minutes

In terms of industry acceptance, the company has gained support from its partners – MPI Generali, LonPac and Zurich Insurance and Takaful.

GetCover hopes to sign-up more merchants to work with, but there is still more to be done as one of the biggest obstacles it faces is the perception of the industry.

As with any disruptive business that signals significant changes, there is resistance to its business model as well.

However, instead of competing with the motor insurance agency businesses, Khoo says the company enable them to grow and evolve by acquiring and retaining new and existing customers.

Digital adoption can help intermediaries and insurance companies to save up to 10% in distribution costs, based on a report by the Boston Consulting Group.

“Rather than compete with one another or disrupt the conventional general insurance agencies’ business, GetCover enhances it by becoming the enabler to bring the traditional processes online.

“When we came up with our business model, we looked into industry issues and how to resolve them.

“Most important is to improve efficiencies and increase productivity. The current market process to purchase motor vehicle insurance is very labour-intensive,” Khoo says.

He says start-ups in highly regulated industries have to ensure they can facilitate sufficient cashflow pending approval.

Khoo says GetCover is more conservative and well-prepared to cover cash flow issues for 18 months.


Steady growth

The start-up has attracted 25,000 people who are keen to become social partners, which it defines as digital introducers/referrers that help educate consumers on how to operate the app.

“Comparing that number to the 32,000 general insurance agents in Malaysia, it’s significant,” he says.

In addition to social partners, the company has licenced intermediaries due to its partnership with Standard Financial Adviser Sdn Bhd.

In the long-term, GetCover plans to become more than a motor insurance comparison and renewal mobile app.

It wants to integrate other value-added services into its app. This includes road tax renewal and delivery, on-the-spot snap and file accident claims, progress trackers and other services.

For now, it wants to focus on scaling its user base and improving conversion rates and revenue.

Once it has stabilised its user acquisition trend, GetCover will look at entering other markets in the region.

China and Singapore are some of the key markets it is eyeing. It has undertaken market research and is connecting with stakeholders in the respective countries to establish a foothold.

“We aim to expand further and become the first choice for consumers in Malaysia.

“Eventually we hope to become a personal finance technology platform for financing products.

“We have the potential to extend to lifestyle products and there’s opportunity to even move into the digital advertising space, but that’s not our immediate focus,” Khoo says.

Addressing underlying issues

GETCOVER Sdn Bhd launched its mobile app under the supervisory guidance of Bank Negara Malaysia’s Fintech Enabler Group, and collaboration with agencies under the Finance Ministry and Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation.

Today, the company serves as an example of the country’s enabling infrastructure and conducive regulatory framework that enables a vibrant financial technology (fintech) and insurance technology (insuretech) ecosystem.

The start-up spent over a year developing the app and gained approval from the Bank Negara Malaysia Financial Technology Regulatory Sandbox in May.

Last year, it was awarded the MSC status under MSC4Startups which is a programme tailored for start-up companies to apply for MSC Malaysia Status.

It is now pending an intellectual property patent for Malaysia, which was filed last year.

Founder and CEO Paul Khoo says that working within the parameters of the sandbox ensures a number of things such as consumer and public confidence and credibility.

Khoo, who was seeking business opportunities, zeroed in on insuretech and fintech (in the form of a remittance e-wallet ecosystem), but eventually decided on the insuretech business model after evaluating it.

The idea for GetCover originated in November 2015, but the company was set up only in April last year.

“At the time, insuretech was very new. It’s 30 months old now so we were early adopters at that point. It was also an exciting area for us to venture into due to legacy issues and other problems,” he says.

The insurance industry is one that has not seen much technology improvement over the years, largely due to its distribution model that is dominated by intermediaries such as insurance agents.

Khoo says in Asia, consumers prefer intermediaries to serve them when they purchase insurance. And they don’t want to be served by a toll-free number.

“We’ve done in-depth research to formulate a business model that involves hybrid distribution instead of going business-to-consumer.

“We still have intermediaries to bridge the gap at this time, but hopefully within the next couple of years, we’ll be able to drive consumer behaviour towards self-service purchases,” he says

This article first appeared in Focus Malaysia Issue 260.