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The Changing Face of Insurance Sales – Ft. Stephen Douglas

Quote From Stephen

Where is the insurance industry in its digitalization journey? Which trends will shape the next chapter of sales productivity? Keeping the big picture in mind is essential as Asia’s insurance industry evolves rapidly. To grasp what lies ahead, we caught up with Stephen Douglas, Head of Sales & Partnerships for Asia at Medix Global.

How will Sales Productivity Evolve in 2024?

When it comes to sales productivity, we need to look at technological advancements, digital transformation, and AI.

In my view, being in the insurance distribution field for over two decades, sales productivity hinges on the ability to generate quotes and proposals swiftly and accurately. It’s crucial that these are comprehensive and detailed for a fair market or product portfolio comparison and easily accessible for agents and brokers. This underscores the importance of technology in providing information to clients.

We live in the digital age now. I’ve worked with online comparison websites in Asia over the years, which have been very successful because they provide a full market appraisal at the click of a button.

Managing leads is incredibly important as well. This allows for a top-down perspective of what’s going on, especially within large sales forces, which could be local, regional, or international organizations managing those opportunities. We should seize opportunities as quickly as possible to increase conversion rates.

With the advancement of generative AI, I foresee a significant change in how insurers interact with clients. AI-powered apps will likely play a crucial role in answering customer queries during the sales process.

Speaking of AI, how can insurers employ AI as a means to differentiate themselves in the marketplace?

With all technology, there is a growth spurt. ChatGPT, for instance, has evolved remarkably since its debut in November 2022, now boasting a vast user base. The number of apps integrating such technology is growing daily.

Companies like Microsoft and Google are investing heavily in these technologies.

I genuinely feel that if the insurance industry wants to move forward from being often considered archaic, it needs to embrace AI. The industry is over 300 years old, and AI can revolutionize different departments and components within insurance companies. For example, in sales operations, one efficiency bottleneck is the onboarding process, especially the underwriting aspect in health and life insurance.

I predicted back in 2016, while developing another business that incorporated AI, that eventually AI would be advanced enough to handle the underwriting process, replacing human involvement. If not fully realized by 2024, we’ll likely see the development and growth of insurance companies working to solve this problem, possibly coming to fruition in 2025.

AI benefits

And finally, what is on your tech wish list for 2024? 

I have a big wishlist! Many insurers express a desire to technologically advance, but real commitment is often lacking, mainly due to financial constraints. I’m hoping for more proactive adoption of tech improvements in 2024 and 2025, particularly in areas like enhancing the agent experience and streamlining the underwriting process.

The most obvious reason the insurance industry struggles to retain Millennials and Gen Z agents is that the technology isn’t advanced enough. This generation is accustomed to instant gratification. If I want food, I order it and it’s here in 20 minutes. If I want a pair of jeans, I order it and it arrives the next day. This efficiency hasn’t impacted the insurance industry as much as I’d hoped by 2024. So, my wishlist is about actual progress, not just the intent. Partnering with tech firms, such as Vymo, can be a cost-effective solution for insurers.

Second on my list would be AI underwriting technology. To my knowledge, and from what I’ve seen at insurance conferences and expos in 2023, there’s nothing yet capable of completing a full underwriting process with no human input. We’re not there yet, but if that could happen in 2024, that would be awesome.

Third, for the Thailand market, there needs to be a greater focus on digital transformation. Companies like Tune Protect, which partner with AirAsia, are very advanced with their insurance technology. However, I feel the rest of the market is slightly lagging. I only see this improving into 2024. The Thai market seems poised to onboard new digitally transformative technologies within the insurance industry. If we can achieve this in the next year and into 2025, it would be exciting for the entire market.


Stephen Douglas is the Head of Sales & Partnerships for Asia at Medix Global. With 23 years in the health insurance industry, he brings extensive experience and knowledge to his role. Originally from Manchester, Stephen began his career at Bupa, a leading health insurer in the UK. Over the past 14 years, he has been living and working in Southeast Asia — initially spending four years in Hong Kong as a broker, followed by a decade in Bangkok, Thailand. During this time, he has also worked as a consultant, focusing on market development within the ASEAN and Asia Pacific regions. At Medix Global, Stephen spearheads growth initiatives, particularly in the Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore markets.

Rashmi George

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Rashmi George, the Content Lead at Vymo is an unapologetic cat whisperer. When she's not cuddling her furry friends, you can find her nose-deep in a fantasy or finance book, dreaming up her next travel adventure. With over a decade of experience writing for ad agencies, financial institutions, and media production companies, Rashmi knows how to craft content that captures attention and drives results.

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