Simplifying Insurance: Q&A with Val Yap, Founder of PolicyPal

It is not surprising that very few in Singaporean have a thorough understanding of insurance. The technical jargons and complexities of an insurance plan intimidates most people.

PolicyPal started with the aim to help insurance buyers understand and manage their insurance policies.

LadyBoss spoke to Val Yap, founder of PolicyPal and her vision for her business.

The need for digital insurance management and the urgent need to combine digital solutions with face ­to­ face human touch have arisen in millennials and this segments’ influence is significant.

Q: Tell us about your business, PolicyPal. How long you’ve been doing it, and who your customers are?

A: At PolicyPal, we create a digital insurance folder for you to organise all your existing policies, giving you a peace of mind, so that you always have access to your insurance policies even if the unexpected happens.

No more paperwork!

We give you a holistic review and make recommendations about your insurance coverage. We provide an independent review of your coverage and let you know the missing links.

Never worry about overpaying or being under-insured. We are here to ensure that you and your family are always well protected.

We automate your coverage gap analysis using rule-based algorithms, ensuring transparency and unbiased review.

Q: What were you doing before entrepreneurship? 

A: Prior to PolicyPal, I was an Assistant Vice President at OCBC Bank. Primarily focused on launching the digital initiatives and campaigns, working closely with the wealth, digital and marketing to drive innovations.

Previously served as Risk Assurance Associate at PwC London office, worked with UK Financial Institutions to develop implementation plans for the changes required for USA Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) compliance and regulatory assessment for UK Financial Institutions.

This painful experience made me realised the importance of having a well-organised folder of my insurance policies and documents.

Q: What’s the idea behind PolicyPal?  

A: Several years ago, my mum was diagnosed with cancer and had her insurance claim unexpectedly rejected because of several lapses my family was unaware of.

Despite the medical crisis, my siblings and I had to scour through stacks of insurance documentation to check and understand the extent of my Mum’s coverage.

This painful experience made me realised the importance of having a well-organised folder of my insurance policies and documents.

I thought, if this could happen to me, it could happen to anyone. Why not create a digital folder for my friends to consolidate their insurance policies?

Coming from a digital media background, a mobile based application was definitely my natural choice.

Without a doubt, it was hard for me to give up a career on the leadership management track in the banking sector.

However, I soon realised that my conviction to help make a difference to the lives around me was simply over empowering.

Q: What makes PolicyPal different from other InsurTech companies? 

A: PolicyPal is the first mobile insurance platform that helps consumers to understand, manage and buy insurance.

All information about the policies that consumers have purchased remains in an analog world. Managing insurance policies in paper files or excel spreadsheets is complex. Consumers have to contact their insurance companies to obtain information regarding their policies during emergencies.

PolicyPal solves this problem.

Utilising OCR, taxonomy and rule based algorithms, PolicyPal digitalises the policies and automates the coverage gap analysis to determine the optimal coverage an individual should have.

Consumers simply take a picture of the summary page of their insurance policies. After which, they will get a clear overview of their insurance policies, current coverage and personalised recommendations on the optimal coverage they should attain.

In short, with targeted calculations toward the optimal amount of coverage each individual should rightfully have, PolicyPal will raise the benchmark of insurance knowledge for the users in Singapore and help consumers get coverage in areas in which there is a shortfall.

The need for digital insurance management and the urgent need to combine digital solutions with face ­to­ face human touch have arisen in millennials and this segments’ influence is significant.

This group demands transparency, simplicity and speed in their interactions with the service providers. As a result, they are likely to use online, mobile and social channels for digital education and advice.

PolicyPal uses data-driven approaches to empower consumers with the ability to personalize insurance needs on the go.

Q: Who is your target audience? 

PolicyPal focuses on self-directed individuals who think insurance is confusing and do not have time manage their existing policies and buy new insurance.

PolicyPal uses data-driven approaches to empower consumers with the ability to personalize insurance needs on the go.

Providing consumers with simple options based on the context and information gathered through his or her mobile device with permission.

PolicyPal uses data-intelligence and advanced analytics to identify needs and provide products for easy, on-demand purchase.

Q: In terms of sales & marketing, how do you reach your customers, and what works?

We reach out to customers through fintech and finance blogs. We partner with independent financial advisors to help them engage with their existing customers, sending reminders for their premium due dates and policy expiry.

Q:  How many people are you managing in your team? 

We have a small team, currently there’s 5 in the team.

  • Forming a team of great people that fit the startup culture makes managing the team becomes super, super easy.
  • Empower your team and don’t micromanage. Balance giving freedom to the team, while still being available for advice.
  • Help the team with career development. Identifying and exploring such opportunities with the team presents an opportunity to become the kind of leader who truly changes lives.
  • Have a clear vision and strategy for the team. Even in the midst of turmoil, keep the team focused on goals and strategy. Involve the team in setting and evolving the team’s vision and making progress toward it.

Q: Where do you see the future of PolicyPal? Ultimately what is your vision for the company?

 Insurance has always been a complex and confusing product for the common man.

Hence, it has been and will continue to be one of our greatest interest to find out how we can further simplify insurance education.

Our constant engagement with the users, financial advisors and insurers, provides us with a deeper understanding of the pain that each stakeholder group faces.

These key takeaways will be our guiding beacon as we seek to improve the product, while maintaining our primary vision to make insurance simple, accessible and transparent.

I also learnt that we must be ready to fail as it’s another form of learning.

Q: Tell us about your Number 1 business challenge?

Startup is difficult.

Focus, do one business at a time and commit to it until it blooms and blossoms. As the insurance space is huge, we had many people telling us to try different managing different areas and move to banking accounts, investments, etc. Figuring out how to juggle near term priorities with mid to long term priorities. There is no “one” thing – it could be funding, product development, partnerships, recruiting, etc.

Talent, or lack thereof is a huge problem. We need super smart, highly motivated team to create a great startup. Unfortunately, these are hard to come by unless you are willing to pay top market rate.

There’s not enough resources yet so many opportunities. We need to have laser focus and know when to say no. There are so many opportunities that it can quickly distract the progress if we try to address them all.

I also learnt that we must be ready to fail as it’s another form of learning. It’s a journey, not a destination, so you better enjoy the trip!

Q: As an entrepreneur, what motivates you personally? 

Based on my personal experiences. Here are the things that keep me motivated:

Challenge – Many people who like to startup want it for the challenge. They are problem solvers and want to disrupt the status quo. They have a vision and want to constantly be challenged.

Creativity – Running your own startup lets you be more creative. For instance, I could experiment with a new user interface (UI), marketing strategy, build innovative products that attacks a known problem in a different way.

Curiosity – Most founders are always curious and ask – “what if we do it this way?”. They want to understand the customer’s minds, markets and competitors.

Work smarter, not harder. Your career as an entrepreneur is not about, “Just keep going.”

Q: What would be your advice for aspiring women entrepreneurs keen in starting a business in Tech? 

Find a female Mentor: Being a woman, and finding and working with female mentors have been a game changer.

There are many experiences you will have as an aspiring entrepreneur that men don’t undergo, and it’s important to find and build friendships, mentorships, with the same gender who can understand 100% what you’re going through. Find female groups and initiatives that provide support to each other.

Pick a lane is akin to – don’t spread yourself too thin. Find out what you believe in, and learn what you don’t know.

It will be somewhere awesome because of the hard work you put into your journey. Don’t just start a tech startup to start a tech startup. It’s too difficult.

Rather, go deep on a mission, market that captures your curiosity, and that you can imagine working on for the next 10 years.

Be extraordinarily good at it that people come to you for your expertise.

Work smarter, not harder. Your career as an entrepreneur is not about, “Just keep going.”

It’s about, “What can I do to deliver and build the thing I am passionate about bringing into this world?”

You can find shortcuts that allow you to serve your market and show amazing results.

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This article was written by the LadyBoss team. Want to be a contributor? Drop us an email at [email protected]

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