Spreading access to life insurance in Taiwan

After implementing innovative practices and maintaining a focus on supporting local and national communities, Taiwanese insurance firms are now poised for further success

Fubon Life charity event
Fubon hosts a charity speed-walking event to encourage healthy habits 

A five-time recipient of World Finance’s award for Best Life Insurance Company, Taiwan, Fubon Life made significant strides during 2015. The business has been focused on cultivating talent, planting the seeds of the future at local schools and pioneering services that cater to Taiwan’s ageing society. The company also strengthened its digital technology applications and continued to lead the trend towards offering more insurance services through mobile platforms. Corporate social responsibility initiatives remained as important as ever, with Fubon Life deepening its services at the community level and providing timely assistance following major disasters.

These efforts have earned Fubon Life several prestigious awards, both at home and abroad, including being named the country’s most admired life insurance company by students in Taiwanese insurance-related university departments for the sixth year in a row. In July, Fubon Life was named Insurance Company of the Year for Agents by Asia Insurance Review, beating competing insurers from 15 other Asia-Pacific countries. The award recognised the company’s long-term investment of resources and dedication to nurturing its business units while providing the necessary customer service platform to enhance professionalism and efficiency. It also acknowledged Fubon Life’s use of a systematic digital training programme to solidify the professionalism of its insurance agents.

Fubon Life also utilises a cloud operations system that effectively integrates virtual and brick-and-mortar insurance services. Combined, all these factors have made Fubon Life a competitive player in Asia’s life insurance industry.

Narrowing the urban-rural divide
Lack of access to life insurance services is a concern in many of Taiwan’s rural areas. Recognising 70 percent of Taiwan’s insurance resources and services are concentrated in urban areas, Fubon Life decided to launch its Fubon Boundless Talent campaign to bring its financial services to corners of society that until now have
been overlooked.

Fubon Life has embraced the arrival of the fintech era, bringing advanced technology to both its products and services

The programme encourages talented young people from underserved areas to return to their hometowns and start up insurance businesses, thereby increasing access to services at a community level. The programme now reaches 55 rural towns around Taiwan. Meanwhile, the company’s Good Neighbour and Social Welfare Ambassador programmes have helped to spread Fubon Life’s spirit of caring throughout society. Combined, these programmes contributed to nearly 100 community-based social welfare groups around Taiwan during 2015.

Fubon Life has put considerable emphasis on forging a systematic, digitally orientated training programme for its agents. The programme is designed to nurture staff by developing high ethical standards, a high degree of expertise and strong service attitudes capable of coping in Taiwan’s intensely competitive insurance sector. The firm developed a digital learning environment by creating its Cloud Learning Centre, leveraging convenient learning methods to help new staff acquire the essential professional skills they need.

Responding to customers’ needs
Fubon Life has embraced the arrival of the fintech era, bringing advanced technology to both its products and services. At the end of 2014, it became the first life insurer in Taiwan to allow customers to purchase life insurance online. Later, it introduced other products, such as travel and disability insurance, through the same convenient channel. In terms of customer service, it integrated its virtual and physical channels to create a ‘mobile office’ for its agents, improving the quality and effectiveness of its services. This concept has seen great success in delivering modern digital conveniences and customised services to the company’s policyholders.

Moreover, the mobile office has empowered agents to offer a highly efficient service during every step of the sales process. Before any sales are made, the system provides agents with company information, product information and training. The system also handles scheduling and customer information management functions, plus reminders for pending information and potential customer recommendations.

As sales are made, agents have access to electronic policy proposals, premium calculators, e-policies and an online coverage function at their fingertips. In terms of post-sales services, functions such as the calculation of an agent’s sales, case progress checks and claims processing can be completed almost automatically. In 2015, Fubon Life also introduced Microsoft Office 365, becoming the biggest life insurer in Taiwan to use the cloud services system.

As economic and tourism exchanges between Taiwan and China have grown, Fubon Life has sought to protect policyholders while they are travelling. The firm gives travelling customers access to the same outstanding claims services or major accident support services to which they are accustomed. To that end, Fubon Life began cooperating with China’s biggest private life insurer, Ping An Life Insurance Company, last year. Under the arrangement, when Fubon Life policyholders have accidents that are covered by insurance, they can get help from any one of Ping An Life’s 700-plus service counters and file a claim on the spot. By not having to return to Taiwan to file a claim, policyholders can save a lot of time and hassle.

Furthermore, with the size of Taiwan’s over-65 population continually increasing, Fubon Life is helping customers take stock of the four major aspects of retirement: finances, medical care, long-term care and entertainment. The company is working to engage customers in insurance planning to make sure they have the protection they need. Fubon has also introduced groundbreaking health insurance schemes that cover catastrophic and chronic diseases, as well as long-term care insurance that will pay out a monthly stipend.

Fubon Life headquarters
Fubon Life’s headquarters in Taiwan

Fubon was also the first domestic insurer to be permitted to issue an insurance policy incorporating in-kind payments. The policy is designed to remind and encourage customers to get a yearly physical and make a concerted effort in managing their own health. Fubon Life has also introduced several elderly care plans aimed at easing the family and financial burdens of long-term care.

Among these plans is its Senior Living Services Network, designed to help customers plan for a fulfilling retirement. Fubon Life has also launched its Dementia Advocacy Project, organised in collaboration with social welfare groups and geriatric medicine specialists. This project has turned more than 400 Fubon locations, with over 20,000 employees, into a ‘guardian care’ network. The hope is these initiatives will draw the attention of the public and additional companies in creating a good living environment for seniors in Taiwan. This will be of increased importance as society ages.

A first in emergency response
Beyond bringing innovation to the insurance industry, Fubon Life also takes its corporate social responsibility very seriously. The firm has become a source of positive energy in society, especially when disaster strikes. Taiwan has experienced several major natural disasters in recent years, and what is needed after these events are well-organised and efficient rescue and support services.

With that in mind, Fubon Life set up the first emergency response centre in the industry, which will mobilise Fubon Life’s personnel and volunteers to take action whenever a major emergency occurs. The initiative spreads the company’s concern for its policyholders and the public to affected areas.

For example, when a strong earthquake hit Taiwan at the beginning of 2016, a residential complex toppled and left more than 110 people dead. Fubon Life immediately mobilised more than 300 volunteers to care for victims and provide tangible support. In the disaster’s aftermath, the company drew on its orphan scholarships programme to pledge assistance to all minors who had lost parents in the disaster, promising to provide each of them with a monthly allowance until adulthood.

The firm also arranged for employees to serve as ‘guardian angels’ for the children affected and spend time with them over the long term. These practices earned Fubon Life a Faith, Hope and Love Insurance Award for Best Insurance Guardian 2016.

Fubon Life has built its roots in Taiwan with a global perspective in mind. The company continues to expand its network at home, while also moving into international markets. It set up its first overseas subsidiary in Hanoi in 2011 and later acquired a 48 percent stake in South Korea’s Hyundai Life in 2015, becoming the company’s second biggest shareholder. In April 2016, Fubon Life formally opened a subsidiary in Hong Kong, further rounding out its regional presence. In 2015, the firm launched an offshore insurance unit to satisfy clients’ one-stop shop financial services needs and help sales agents diversify their offerings. The new service has given overseas customers more asset allocation options and created additional long-term life insurance coverage choices.