Picture this scenario: You are about to fly overseas, you are at the airport, your bags are checked in and you are relaxing in the waiting area. Then something strikes you.
You have forgotten to buy travel insurance!
This common problem would then see you racing against the clock, checking the websites of all the major insurance providers to see which plan with which company was best for you, often on sites not optimised for mobile.
This problem is by no means limited to travel insurance as we see similar scenarios in auto, health and frankly all sectors of insurance in Singapore.
Thanks to one Singaporean startup, those days are over.
Meet GoBear, an online insurance portal with a very simple value proposition. The company claims to allow you to view and compare car and travel insurance policies from all major providers. The service claims to be provider-neutral and therefore provides unbiased comparisons.
In a nutshell, GoBear allows users to compare the car and travel insurance offerings of a variety of companies and then purchase the chosen plan, all on a single platform.
Some of the insurers on GoBear’s platform include Citibank, UOI, MSIG, QBE, NTUC Income and Great Eastern to name a few.
A GoBear spokesperson told e27 that: “At this point in time, there isn’t anything in the market like GoBear – it compares hundreds of car and travel insurance products in just a few seconds, in an unbiased, quick and easy manner, with jargon-free language in a very friendly user interface. The fact that it’s mobile and tablet-friendly means that you can search no matter where you are. ”
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This isn’t to say that there have been no attempts at such a service, Moneysmart.sg is one such service even though these days it would seem that they are focusing more on their loan comparison tool.
The company is founded by Andre Hesselink, whose previous ventures include Dutch airline ticketing platform Airtrade and Singapore-based recreational sales platform, Travix.
With GoBear, Hesselink and his team are aiming to disrupt what the company sees as a “traditionally opaque and convoluted industry.”
As for why the founders chose Singapore as their base of operations, GoBear told us: “There’s a growing tendency for Singaporeans to use comparison sites when they do their online shopping, and 40 per cent of Singaporeans already do their car insurance research online. This made Singapore an ideal starting ground with a technologically-savvy user base for a country of its size and population.”
Also, while the founders feel that Singapore is a blue ocean for a service like GoBear, they shared with us that it won’t be all smooth sailing and that actually most of the challenge will come from more traditional players and channels in the market. The spokesperson also added not-so-subtly that “unfortunately, some might feel that it’s not in everybody’s interest to help make products more transparent for customers. ”
All this is well and good but what about that kooky name? According to GoBear, the name actually makes a lot of sense. They told us, “Essentially, a bear is often associated with an element of protection and trust – which is what insurance products do for the users, whether it’s car or travel insurance. And a bear is friendly and trustworthy, which is what GoBear is for users.”
GoBear did not release its investor list, only sharing with us that the company is, “funded by some investment funds from The Netherlands.”