Budget Direct marks seventh year in Singapore's digital insurance sector

Insurance boss looks back at company's journey

Budget Direct marks seventh year in Singapore's digital insurance sector


By Roxanne Libatique

This year marks the seventh anniversary of Budget Direct Insurance's (Budget Direct) entrance into Singapore's digital insurance scene, a period marked by significant strides and innovations in the sector.

Simon Birch, the visionary behind Budget Direct and previously DirectAsia Insurance (DirectAsia), has played a critical role in propelling the digital transformation of insurance services in Singapore.

How it all started

As Budget Direct marks its seventh year in Singapore, Birch looks back on a journey that has influenced the local insurance industry's shift towards digital platforms.

The inception of Birch's quest to revolutionise the insurance industry dates back to 2005, with the launch of DirectAsia. Identifying an opportunity in the market for a model that bypassed traditional insurance intermediaries, Birch envisioned a platform that would directly connect consumers with insurance products online. This initiative sought to dismantle the prevailing norms of insurance distribution, characterised by agent-based sales and complex processes.

Birch's pursuit of his vision led to securing investment and partnership with the Whittington Group in 2006. This collaboration spearheaded extensive research into the viability and potential of online insurance, setting the stage for DirectAsia.

Birch, along with a global team of insurance experts, built a company that aimed to not only compete with but also outperform traditional insurers by leveraging superior customer service, segmentation, and technological advancements.

The birth of DirectAsia

The challenges Birch faced ranged from industry scepticism to the practical hurdles of establishing a new insurance model in a market dominated by established players. Despite the obstacles, Birch's vision materialised with the launch of DirectAsia in 2010, marking a significant milestone in the industry's evolution towards digital solutions.

“I was always sure that Asia and in particular Singapore were ready for a B2C insurance model, and the subsequent research backed that up. It proved, however, to be quite a battle as there were many critics, most of whom had vested interests in maintaining an industry dominated by agents and middlemen. But with support from the investors, the great launch team and guidance from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), we successfully received our full general insurance company licence and launched in June 2010,” Birch said.

Establishment of Budget Direct

Birch's entrepreneurial journey didn't stop with DirectAsia. Following its acquisition by Hiscox Group in 2014, he embarked on establishing Budget Direct in Singapore in late 2016. This venture was aimed at further disrupting the market with a focus on offering streamlined, affordable insurance solutions directly to consumers.

Birch's efforts with Budget Direct have been part of a larger narrative of digital transformation within the insurance sector, reflecting a global shift towards efficiency, transparency, and customer-centricity.

This month, Budget Direct earned an award from independent review platform Feefo following feedback from almost 9,000 of its customers on the platform.

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