OneDegree, the Hong Kong-based insurance technology startup, launched its first product today, a line of medical plans for pets called Pawfect Care. The company will introduce other products, including cyber insurance and medical coverage for humans, all available completely online, over the next 12 months.
Co-founder and CEO Alvin Kwock told TechCrunch that it took OneDegree two years to launch Pawfect Care because of the stringent regulatory approval process required to get an insurance license in Hong Kong.
The first two virtual insurance licenses issued by Hong Kong’s Insurance Authority went to companies owned by existing insurance providers (Sun Life’s Bow Tie and Asia Insurance’s Avo), in an effort to encourage more legacy players to go digital. OneDegree was the first independent insurance company to start online to be granted a license.
OneDegree will gradually launch cyber and human medical insurance plans over the next year. Kwock said the COVID-19 pandemic has created a “paradigm shift,” because face-to-face activities have declined dramatically, and the Insurance Authority is now issuing new virtual insurance licenses and allowing more products to be sold online.
The company decided to start with pet insurance because the company estimates that even though there are about half a million pet dogs and cats in Hong Kong, only about 3% of them have medical insurance despite the high cost of veterinary care. OneDegree lets customers buy and manage policies and file claims through a mobile app. It says that about 90% of approved claims will be paid within two working days.
In response to the pandemic, Pawfect Care’s pet insurance includes coverage of medical costs related to COVID-19. OneDegree emphasizes that there have only been a few known cases of pets testing positive for the virus so far and no evidence of them acting as carriers so far, but added the coverage for customers’ peace of mind.