Fred Ngan Is Shaking Up The Insurance Industry, One Medical Claim At A Time
In the What Matters To Me series, a Generation T honouree describes what they do, why they do it, and why it matters.
It was only when Fred Ngan needed heart surgery that he realised the medical insurance provided by his major Hong Kong accounting firm wasn’t enough. “People don’t look at their plans until something happens,” Fred Ngan says. “I had to line up at a busy public hospital [to get my surgery] because the coverage I had wasn’t sufficient.”
Ngan credits that experience as one of the reasons he began to question the ways of traditional insurance. “The [insurance] industry is quite backward,” he says. “You can’t find any product information online, you don’t know the premiums and it’s just not very transparent. There’s just so much paperwork and you have to wait days or weeks before you even find out if you’re covered or not.” Ngan realised he had found an unanswered need in the industry, and he had some big ideas on how he could revolutionise the outdated space, starting with making the process easier. In 2018, Hong Kong’s first virtual insurer, Bowtie Life Insurance, went online.
The coronavirus and subsequent lockdowns have created behavioural change across the globe, where we are moving increasingly online for both necessity and convenience— like Uber and Deliveroo. That’s what we aim to create with our virtual insurance company. Changing habits can be hard but online services like ours are so convenient that they can become a permanent change. We know it will take us some time to educate people on this new style of insurance, but we believe it’ll be adopted quickly.
We also really wanted to have physical touchpoints with our customers because people know Bowtie as a virtual company, but insurance is also about trust. We thought it would help to build that trust by having a physical presence as a Bow Coffee in one of our permanent office locations, so you can visit the café but also find customer service on the second floor. The café itself isn’t about selling insurance; its theme is “live and breathe” because we’re always so busy and focused on our career, we often forget to recharge our body and mind. This coffee shop is where you can relax, find good coffee and enjoy yourself.
When starting our brand, we asked people, when do you tie a bow tie? Usually it’s at weddings and graduations or for someone special to you, like your partner or family. In our eyes, insurance is similar: it’s about protecting your prestigious moments and protecting your significant others. We wanted to create a brand that could really touch people, while being playful and innovative. The colour pink isn’t used very often in the traditional insurance industry, so we used it to show we’re something different.
This coming year, my goal is to make sure that my team and I maintain the same purpose as the Bow Coffee: to remember to “live and breathe”. We are all really driven by the purpose of what we do, but it’s important to create a healthy workplace culture and make sure we all have that balance. Focusing on mental health now also allows us to focus and perform better in the long run.
See other honourees in the Finance & Venture Capital category of the Gen.T List 2020