Hiscox, the global specialist insurance group, is pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement with Whittington Group, the Singapore-headquartered insurance services and investment business, to acquire its direct-to-consumer online operation DirectAsia, subject to regulatory approval.
Anthony Hobrow, CEO Whittington Group, said, “We have developed a successful entrepreneurial business, taking on the global giants with traditional distribution models. We are very pleased that we have been able to pass this unique platform to Hiscox who can supply expertise, capital and a strong customer focussed culture to help us further develop and grow the business.”
DirectAsia was founded in Singapore in 2010 and launched into Hong Kong in 2012 and Thailand in 2013. Its primary business is automotive, one of the few non-discretionary insurances in Asia, with ancillary lines in travel, personal accident, healthcare and life.
DirectAsia has a strong business model, operates in markets where agent based channels with high distribution costs predominate, and uses market leading rating mechanisms. It has over 54,000 customers, employs 140 people across the three locations in which it operates and in 2013 had gross written premiums of $25.3 million (S$32.2 million)
Bronek Masojada, Hiscox CEO, commented, “DirectAsia is a challenger brand with real potential. It gives Hiscox a 21st century distribution platform in Asia that leapfrogs traditional routes to market. DirectAsia complements our direct-to-consumer businesses in Europe and the US, and in time, we will use it to distribute Hiscox products.”
The business will continue to operate under the DirectAsia brand and existing local management team, which will be led by Steve Langan – Hiscox UK and Europe MD and now CEO of DirectAsia Group.
Hiscox, headquartered in Bermuda, is an international specialist insurance group listed on the main market of the London Stock Exchange. DirectAsia will be Hiscox’s first business in Asia, and builds on its other direct-to-consumer operations in Europe and the U.S.
DirectAsia is built on the same efficient and scalable IT platform that Hiscox U.K. is migrating to. It supports the insurer’s existing strategy to grow the retail lines of business and balance the more catastrophe exposed, internationally traded lines, where it expands and contracts according to market conditions.
The acquisition has been approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and is subject to regulatory approval from the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) in Hong Kong. Other interested parties including the Bermuda Monetary Authority, the Prudential Regulatory Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority in the U.K., the Office of Insurance Commission (OIC) in Thailand, and Lloyd’s of London have also been notified of the transaction.