Singapore: New Pilot Project Uses Blockchain for Life Insurance Claims

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Left to right: CEO Lumen Lab Zia Zaman; SPH Chief of Digital Business Julian Tan; NTUC Income Chief Operating Officer Peter Tay, pose for a picture at SPH News Centre on June 10, 2019. (ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH)

Media company Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), insurance firm NTUC Income (Income), and LumenLab, MetLife’s Asia innovation center, have teamed up to pilot a blockchain platform aimed at automating the life insurance claim process, the companies said on Monday.

Using LifeChain, a technology developed by LumenLab, SPH will encrypt and share verification data used for obituary placement with Income to kick-start the claim process. The initiative is intended to provide greater convenience to family members attending to a deceased’s administrative matters, while streamlining the life insurance claim process.

Lifechain will begin piloting this month with 1,000 randomly selected Income life insurance policyholders.

During the pilot, family members of a deceased who place obituaries in SPH’s The Straits Times will be informed about Lifechain, and upon their consent, the deceased’s National Registration Identity Card (NRIC) number will be submitted into platform as hashed data to trigger a search for a matching life insurance policy.

When a match is found, SPH will inform family members within one working day, while Lifechain will send an automatic notification to Income via email to initiate the claims process. If a match is not found, family members will also be notified so they can proceed to make checks and file claims with their life insurers accordingly.

Commenting on the initiative, Peter Tay, Income’s COO who heads the company’s Digital Transformation Office (DTO), said that blockchain offers greater transparency, enhanced security, improved traceability, efficiency and speed of transactions, “value propositions [that] resonate with Income.”

“We are excited to be the first insurer to come on-board Lifechain. We believe it will empower us to offer optimal protection of our policyholders’ personal information while enhancing their customer experience with Income,” Tay said.

Julian Tan, chief of digital business at SPH, said the media company hopes to expand Lifechain to include more insurers in time.

“SPH aims to be the go-to partner for insurers to reach policyholders’ beneficiaries, as soon as advertisers place an obituary in the future,” Tan said.

“This initiative is also in line with our push for the digital business, tapping on innovation and growing our partnerships to serve our customers better.”

The Lifechain initiative is the latest blockchain project seeking to use the technology in the insurance industry. 

Allianz, for instance, piloted the use of blockchain and smart contracts to accelerate the contract management process for catastrophe (cat) swaps and bonds.

A collaboration of entities that includes EY, Guardtime, A.P. Møller-Maersk, Microsoft, and ACORD, launched blockchain-powered marine hull insurance platform Insurwave in 2018.

The platform is now in commercial use and was projected to handle risk for more than 1,000 commercial vessels and 500,000 automated transactions in its first twelve months of operation. The group plans to roll the platform out to other types of business insurance in the future, including cargo, aviation, and logistics.