Bowtie Story
Bowtie Story

Bowtie: From Startup To Top 10 Life Insurer in Just 5 Years

[30 May, 2024 — HONG KONG] Bowtie, Hong Kong's first virtual insurer1, celebrated its fifth anniversary, staying true to its mission of addressing Hong Kong's protection gap. Over the past 5 years, Bowtie has focused on providing high value protection for the people of Hong Kong, focusing on "commission-free, pure protection" insurance products.
Author Bowtie Team
Date 2024-05-31
Updated on 2024-05-31
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Ranked 1 in Direct, Ranked #10 in All Channels2Delivering on Service PromisesStrategic Initiatives to DifferentiateAbout Bowtie

With the Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme (VHIS) plans as Bowtie’s flagship offering, the product line has also expanded to include  life insurance products such as critical illness insurance (CI) and term life insurance (TL).

Ranked 1 in Direct, Ranked #10 in All Channels2

According to public information from the government, the total health expenditure of Hong Kong has exceeded HK$200 billion3 in 2022, rising at a rate that has far outpaced GDP growth. This has created immense resource pressures for the healthcare system. While healthcare costs continue to rise rapidly, many in Hong Kong still do not have health insurance: according to the Census and Statistics Department, nearly 3.5 million residents, about half of the city’s population, do not have employee medical benefits or personal medical insurance coverage4.

As the strain on public healthcare resources increases and household out-of-pocket spending on medical expenses continues to climb5, health insurance products that finance private healthcare are becoming increasingly important and necessary. 

In the last fiscal year, the insurance industry sold 175,000 VHIS policies in Hong Kong, bringing the total number of in-force policies to 1.2 million. Bowtie captured approximately 5% of the new VHIS policies, with over 1,000 new VHIS customers signing up every month.

With consumer behaviour shifting from offline to online channels, and attracted by the high value-for-money, customer tend to trust and choose Bowtie’s VHIS plans, particularly among the younger population6.

Apart from VHIS products, Bowtie’s supplementary insurance products have seen very high growth. 75% of CI customers opt for the newly launched “Term CI Early Stage and Multiple Cover” product; while 30% of TL customers are choosing the highest sum assured of HK$8 million, reflecting the trust built up by the brand and customer demand for Bowtie to offer higher end products. In response, Bowtie increased the maximum sum assured to HK$20 million last year7.

Furthermore, leveraging on the highly competitive group medical and wellness solutions, Bowtie is currently serving 20,000 employees and 500 companies. Clients include virtual banks, telecommunication companies, airlines, and non-governmental organisations.

Overall, Bowtie’s customer base grew to around 140,000 customers, representing 50% year-over-year growth, and the total protection amount has increased to HK$90 billion. The company’s Annual Recurring Revenue rose to over HK$250 million, making it the highest among virtual insurers. Bowtie also further solidified its market-leading position in the direct insurance channel in terms of the number of policies sold, ranking first for seven consecutive quarters8.

“We are thrilled that Bowtie joins the top 10 life insurers in just 5 years, in terms of the policies sold among all channels22.” said Fred Ngan, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Bowtie. “We are reaching the $100 billion protection milestone, marking a significant step in addressing Hong Kong’s protection gap. Our success is a testament to the trust and confidence our customers have placed in us and the digital model for pure-protection products.”

Delivering on Service Promises

In the past year, Bowtie continued to upgrade its VHIS product series, introducing new services to meet evolving needs. Also, Bowtie announced a strategic partnership with CUHK Medical Centre and launched the second co-branded VHIS rider, offering a one-stop “Medical Insurance + Wellness” solution.

Since 2019, Bowtie has processed nearly 70,000 claims with an impressive 99.53%9 approval rate, demonstrating Bowtie’s dedication to delivering on its promises to customers; The company has also handled over 250,000 customer inquiries with a customer satisfaction of more than 90%. 

Furthermore, Bowtie invests in customers’ long-term health through preventive care initiatives, contributing to an exceptional retention rate of over 90%.

As a purpose-driven local startup, Bowtie cultivates a company culture and values centered on tackling pressing social issues. Its innovative business model and philosophy has garnered recognition, with case studies featured at the Hong Kong Social Enterprise Forum and covered by Harvard Business Review and Ivey Business Publishing.

Strategic Initiatives to Differentiate

Bowtie’s growth plans received a significant boost with the completion of the HK$272 million Series B2 funding round last September, ranked first globally among insurtech investments in Q3 2023, according to CB Insights10. This capital injection fuels investments in its core capabilities in insurtech innovations. 

“Bowtie is uniquely positioned with a digital health insurance model,” said Michael Chan, Bowtie’s Co-Founder and Co-CEO. “We’ve stayed true to our purpose of providing health protection. We will continue to invest in technology for the convenience of our customers and to keep improving our own efficiency. We will continue to invest in our service levels to keep up with our growing customer base. And we will increase our investment into healthcare services for our customers. With these investments we’ve set an ambitious aim to become a top three health insurance provider in Hong Kong in three years. This is ambitious but we believe we are also the most focused on this goal.”

Technology innovation has always been Bowtie’s core competitiveness and greatest differentiation. Bowtie is actively incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) in the workflows across all levels, including customer service, software engineering, and marketing. 

Over 100 employees within Bowtie are participating in AI innovation projects, such as an fully automatic IT support bot supporting internal team, AI tools helping operations teams improve their workflow efficiency, and AI applications assisting marketing teams for content production, etc.

As a digital insurer, Bowtie places significant emphasis on convenient and friendly service. More services are being added to help customers talk directly to specialists with technical authority in their domains with real decision-making authority, further speeding up service.

“I am very proud of Bowtie’s achievement in just 5 years,” said John Tsang, Bowtie’s Senior Advisor. “Achieving a total protection amount of HK$90 billion through only pure protection is definitely a challenging task. As a home-grown start-up, they have been committed to solving the pain points of Hong Kong society. By unlocking private hospital services for more citizens, Bowtie has relieved the pressure on the public healthcare system; I have full confidence in this team and believe they will inject new energy to the industry.”

  • 1 Bowtie is the first company authorised by Hong Kong’s Insurance Authority under its Fast Track Pilot Scheme
  • 2According to Insurance Authority’s Provisional Statistics for Long Term Business 2023, in the fourth quarter of 2023, Bowtie Life ranked in no.10 in terms of new individual paid policies through all channels in Hong Kong (excluding single premium products)
  • 3Data.One: https://data.gov.hk/en-data/dataset/hk-hhb-hhbro-hkdha/resource/ff083869-e2d0-4534-b087-bceccc24ca09
  • 4The Census and Statistics Department: https://www.censtatd.gov.hk/en/press_release_detail.html?id=5515
  • 5The Health Bureau: https://www.healthbureau.gov.hk/statistics/cn/dha/dha_summary_report.htm#:~:text=2019%2F20%E5%B9%B4%E5%BA%A6%E6%9C%AC%E5%9C%B0%E9%86%AB%E7%99%82,%E6%AF%8F%E5%B9%B4%E5%A2%9E%E9%95%B7%EF%BC%883.4%25%EF%BC%89%E3%80%82%BA%A6%E6%9C%AC%E5%9C%B0%E9%86%AB%E7%99%82,%E6%AF%8F%E5%B9%B4%E5%A2%9E%E9%95%B7%EF%BC%883.4%25%EF%BC%89%E3%80%82
  • 6Taking VHIS Standard plan as an example, Bowtie's price is nearly 30% lower than similar products in the market
  • 7Existing customers who have undergone underwriting and a medical examination can have their total sum assured limit increased to a maximum of HK$20,000,000.
  • 8According to Insurance Authority’s Provisional Statistics for Long Term Business 2021-2023, Bowtie Life ranked first in number of new individual paid policies through Direct channel in Hong Kong
  • 9All insurance products including both individual and group insurance plans
  • 10According to the research report of CB Insight , the statistical period is the third quarter of 2023: https://www.cbinsights.com/research/report/insurtech-trends-q3-2023/

About Bowtie

The Bowtie Life Insurance Company Limited is an authorised life insurance company and Hong Kong’s first virtual insurer. Its vision is to bridge the medical protection gap and transform the way people access healthcare in Hong Kong. By combining modern technology and medical expertise, Bowtie offers a commission-free and convenient online platform for customers to quote, apply, and claim for medical insurance plans anytime, anywhere. Bowtie is backed by Sun Life Financial, Mitsui & Co, and supported by leading international investors. Currently, Bowtie has raised more than HK$680 million and provided over HK$90 billion of insured value to families. Stay up to date at https://www.bowtie.com.hk/en/.

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