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Budget Direct Marks 7 Years of Shaping Singapore’s Digital Insurance Landscape

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SINGAPORE, Feb. 22, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — As Budget Direct Insurance celebrates its 7th anniversary, the company takes pride in reflecting on its pivotal role in helping to shape Singapore’s digital insurance industry. Leading this transformative journey in online insurance is Simon Birch, the Founding Director and CEO of Budget Direct Insurance, and former Founder and CEO of DirectAsia Insurance. This retrospective explores his entrepreneurial path, marked by resilience and innovation, where he emerges as a key figure in influencing Singapore’s online insurance industry.

Simon Birch, CEO of Budget Direct, helping to shape the future of online insurance in Singapore.
Simon Birch, CEO of Budget Direct, helping to shape the future of online insurance in Singapore.

In 2005, Birch embarked on a bold venture, conceptualizing the idea that would evolve into DirectAsia Insurance one of Singapore’s first direct-to-consumer online insurance companies. Recognising the growing interest among consumers in Asia to purchase insurance online, he faced the challenge posed by existing agency and middlemen networks. These challenges obstructed the industry and traditional insurers from adopting a direct and online approach. Consequently, the solution involved constructing an insurance company from the ground up.

Undeterred by sceptics, Birch approached various investors in 2006 to launch a brand-new direct, online insurance company. Collaborating with the private equity backed Whittington Group, Birch initiated thorough research into the potential of direct-to-consumer online insurance.

This multi-year research yielded compelling results, leading to the initiation of the build project in 2008. Birch and his team, including entrepreneurial insurance experts from around the world, embarked on constructing DirectAsia Insurance from scratch, with the aim of creating a B2C insurance company boasting world-class service processes, segmentation, and IT infrastructure that would outperform old incumbents relying on legacy systems and traditional processes.

The journey was not without its challenges, as Birch faced scepticism from investors and industry insiders who doubted the viability of a direct online insurance company in Singapore. Common beliefs indicated that challenges with existing agents and variations in pricing could impede the path to success. Birch’s resilience, determination, clear vision, and a dedicated team overcame these obstacles.

Birch said: “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.” 

DirectAsia Insurance emerged as one of the first online insurance businesses to launch in Singapore, challenging norms and establishing new industry standards. Success extended with expansions into Hong Kong, China in 2012 and Thailand in 2013, solidifying DirectAsia Insurance as a prominent player in the online insurance space. The DirectAsia Group was successfully sold to the Hiscox Group in 2014.

Remaining true to his entrepreneurial spirit, Birch seized the opportunity to replicate and build on his success. He went on to partner with an international insurance group, which is headquartered in the British Isles, to launch Budget Direct Insurance in Singapore in late 2016, presenting a smarter, direct-to-consumer, online insurance company providing excellent service at affordable prices.

Today, Birch takes pride in being part of a global insurance group, which includes Compare the Market in the UK, Budget Direct in Australia, and Telesure in South Africa. The group’s stability and support are significant values, according to Birch.

Birch’s journey includes a background in applied economics at the University of Ulster and nearly five years at Commercial Union in the UK after leaving university. In 1995, he moved to Singapore to work for Commercial Union Asia and then moved to AXA Singapore in 1998, setting the stage for a career marked by innovation, resilience, and a commitment to transforming the insurance industry.

About Budget Direct Insurance

Budget Direct Insurance is an award-winning online digital insurance company for car, motorcycle, and travel. It is part of an international group which provides insurance solutions for millions of policyholders worldwide. Their brands include Compare the Market in the UK, Budget Direct in Australia, and Telesure in South Africa. 

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