The Pet Insurance Industry Needs Urgent Modernisation, And Alvin Kwock Of OneDegree Is Making It Happen

By Samantha Mei Topp

The former investment banker turned founder of insurance provider OneDegree is shaking up the pet insurance industry with much needed modernisation

Tatler Asia
Cover  Alvin Kwock

In the What Matters To Me series, a Generation T honouree describes what they do, why they do it, and why it matters.

It was a family bereavement that made Alvin Kwock reassess his path in life. After his mother was diagnosed with cancer in 2015, Kwock took a sabbatical to care for her and was surprised by how labyrinthine and ineffective the insurance claims process could be. “I realised the entire insurance and medical industry was outdated. The use of technology, the waiting times and the claim experience were all broken. That’s what inspired me to look into the insurance space,” he says.

Instead of human medical care, Kwock ended up launching pet insurance provider OneDegree, which prides itself on its quick and simple claims process. Here, he explains how his company is changing the way the industry operates.

My mum was Buddhist and after she passed away, I went to the Buddhist temple for about a month and a half. There, I saw people performing rituals for their dogs and cats, and it inspired me because in Buddhism, pets are considered part of the family. It made me think, ‘You treat your pet like a kid for everything, but when it comes to insurance, there’s no product that matches that,’ which is one of the reasons I decided to focus on pet insurance. There are more than half a million pets in Hong Kong: almost the same as the number of primary school students. There is a really large, underserved market.

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Before I started my company I took a trip to the San Francisco Bay Area to visit some of the biggest insurance tech companies in the US. One of the companies, Collective Health, connected me with my co-founder Alex Leung after I told them about my plans to set up an insurance company from scratch. After we met, Alex and I bounced ideas back and forth for half a year, and then we went on to co-found OneDegree.

OneDegree got one of the first digital insurance licences in Asia, which means we are not just a broker or an agent but a licensed entity that can provide protection. We also built the entire technology systems ourselves to make the system ten times better. For example, it typically takes two to four weeks to get claims paid and that time frame was even longer last year during the pandemic when more people [started] working from home. But at OneDegree we get 90 per cent of the claims paid in just two days.

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Tatler Asia
Above  Alvin Kwock (Photo: Affa Chan)

In the past, insurance companies actively contacted people to buy insurance, but we use social media and word-of-mouth. In April, we participated in Pet Show 2021, an industry trade convention at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Our booth was designed like an Apple Store Genius Bar, and instead of actively contacting people, we had people flooding into our booth and asking questions. We don’t put people under pressure; they can sign up on their phone and in their own time. This, to me, is the next generation of insurance.

See more Gen.T honourees from the Finance & Venture Capital category of the Gen.T List 2020.

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