OneDegree, a Hong Kong-based insurance technology startup, announced today that it has closed a Series A totaling HKD $200 million (about $25.5 million). Half of that amount was pledged by investors to OneDegree pending regulatory approval through the Hong Kong Insurance Authority’s new fast-track licensing program for online-only insurers. The company, which participated in Cyberport, the Hong Kong government’s startup incubator, claims this is the largest ever fundraising round for a pre-revenue insurance tech startup in Hong Kong.
OneDegree is currently not disclosing its list of investors because its new shareholders are being vetted by the Insurance Authority, founder and CEO Alvin Kwock tells TechCrunch, but it includes institutional investors and family offices. The South China Morning Post reports that speculation among brokers peg Tencent and Alibaba as probable backers.
OneDegree has developed an online insurance platform that lets consumers purchase personal lines and health insurance products without needing to consult with an agent. Instead, they find and buy policies through an app that is connected to a backend that automates claims processing, policy management and customer service.
The startup will initially sell medical insurance plans for pets. While there are more than 500,000 pet dogs and cats in Hong Kong, only about 2% to 3% are covered by insurance, compared to 42% in the United Kingdom, says OneDegree. The startup blames this on ineffective distribution, since pet insurance has relatively low premiums and is therefore overlooked by insurance agents, even though the number of pet dogs and cats in Hong Kong is increasing at an average annual growth rate of 3.5% and their owners are a relatively affluent demographic.
OneDegree plans to use its Series A to on tech development, launching new products and marketing. The funding will also serve as risk capital once it launches its insurance business.
In a press statement, Cyberport chairman George Lam said “As a key driver of digital technology development in Hong Kong, we are definitely excited to see local fintech start-ups like OneDegree successfully securing recognition from renowned institutional investors and attracting sizable funding that will enable faster growth.”