Singapore-based digital insurance app PolicyPal announced today that it’s secured an undisclosed amount of seed funding in a round led by 500 Startups. Some angel investors also participated in the round, but the startup refrained from disclosing further information.
PolicyPal, which launched in April 2016, displays all your existing insurance coverage plans on a single screen. It’ll tell you when to renew specific plans as well as when a premium payment is due.
It’s using the fresh injection of capital to strengthen product development efforts as well as to enter the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)’s fintech regulatory sandbox. This is a closed-off environment where fintech startups can test new products and services.
Part of the aim of the sandbox is to provide a bridge between disruptive fintech solutions and the regulatory landscape. The ministry notes that cautious entrepreneurs or financial institutions are unlikely to go ahead with ideas of new products if they feel they’re not covered by existing regulations.
Hence the Singapore government has created an experimentation space, where existing legal requirements are relaxed for a specific duration of time. It helps startups see if their product resonates with potential users, safeguards against failure, and ensures that the overall financial system remains healthy.
Learning from personal challenges
The idea behind PolicyPal came after Val Ji-Hsuan Yap, the CEO, saw her mother’s insurance application rejected. Val’s mom was diagnosed with cancer at the time. She’s now hale and hearty but the insurance company refused to pay up because the family had missed a couple of payments. That was just because of sheer forgetfulness.
The same year, Val’s father passed away due to a sudden heart attack. The future CEO was unaware of how much insurance he had and was compelled to visit all the insurer branch offices to find out.
That’s when Val saw the need to assist others like her family to manage and track insurance coverage.
The startup’s already locked in some high-profile users. Singapore sporting celebrity Ronald Susilo is a fan and has been using the app for six months.
“We partner with insurers to provide an alternative platform for consumers that will automate part of their insurance journey such as the consolidation of insurance policies and answering basic consumer questions,” says Val.
It’s the camera, stupid
Users sign up on the app just by taking a snap of their existing insurance policy summary sheets. PolicyPal leverages optical character recognition tech to analyze the key points. It’ll also give recommendations to improve coverage.
Embedded within all this is tons of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Val says that premiums worth over US$4.3 million have been uploaded on the app so far. The technical aspects of the product are handled by Sunjin Lee – former founding engineer at Viki, which was acquired by Rakuten for US$200 million. She adds that about 9,000 users have signed up.
Overall there’s a team of 11 people, with the number likely to go up after this deal.
PolicyPal was one of the startups that graduated from Startupbootcamp Fintech Singapore’s second cohort last year.
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