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Grab partners with China's ZhongAn to offer insurance

Singaporean operator strives to widen services as it faces Go-Jek competition

Grab plans to offer users and drivers the option to purchase insurance products on its app.   © Reuters

JAKARTA -- Singapore-based ride-share platform Grab will launch digital insurance services for its users and drivers, after striking a deal with China's ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance to set up a joint venture targeting Southeast Asia.

Grab is working hard to widen its service offerings as it braces for tougher competition in the region as its rival Go-Jek expands beyond its home market of Indonesia.

Grab will offer its clients and drivers insurance products on its app under the deal signed with ZhongAn International, the overseas arm of the Chinese insurer, announced Wednesday. The service will first be introduced in Singapore in the first half of this year, and subequently rolled out to other countries.

"The tie-up will address the usual pain points of insurance discovery, unaffordable premiums and payment options by allowing for insurance premium payments to be adjusted and automatically deducted through GrabPay or its affiliate payment partners," the statement said.

Both companies said in a statement that the joint venture will "will collaborate with global insurance partners to develop products that are tailored specifically to Southeast Asians' lifestyle needs." Grab already has a partnership with New York-listed insurance company Chubb. With Chubb, Grab will first offer drivers in Singapore insurance for loss of income due to illness or accidents.

ZhongAn is China's first and largest internet-based insurer, and is backed by Tencent Holdings, Ant Financial Services Group and Ping An Insurance Group.   © Reuters

ZhongAn is China's first and largest internet-based insurer, and is backed by Tencent Holdings, Ant Financial Services Group and Ping An Insurance Group.

Grab quickly became Southeast Asia's top ride-hailing operator after it acquired U.S. company Uber's operations in the region last year. The company is transforming itself from a taxi service into what it calls an "everyday superapp" -- a platform for digital consumer services. 

It already offers food delivery and e-payment services. It will also start online health care services in partnership with Ping An Good Doctor of China in early 2019.

"The launch of our insurance platform is part of our commitment to becoming the leading everyday superapp in the region," said Ming Maa, president of Grab, in the statement.

Grab is one of Southeast Asia's largest unicorns -- private companies valued at over $1 billion -- with a valuation of around $11 billion. It had planned to raise $3 billion from its Series H funding round but is now reportedly aiming for $5 billion, with the Japanese-Saudi SoftBank Vision Fund considering a further capital injection of $1.5 billion.

Go-Jek, on the other hand, formed a partnership with German insurer Allianz Group in 2016, and receieved investment from the German company last year. It also invested in PasarPolis, a digital insurance startup based in Indonesia, last year along with other local unicorns Tokopedia and Traveloka.

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