We had the chance to talk to Danielle Warner, the CEO and Founder of Expat Insurance. Ms Warner has been in the insurance industry since 1999, as an intern in AIG in Parsippany, New Jersey, and worked her way up as the Marketing and Casualty Division Specialist for AIG in New York. Since then, Ms Warner has developed her skills in business management and moved to Singapore where her personal experience as an expat influenced the inception of her company, Expat Insurance. Today, Expat Insurance is one of the most highly regarded IPMI brokers in Asia, winning the coveted “Insurance Broker of the Year” award from the Asian Banking and Finance Industry Awards for 2016.
Last year, Expat Insurance was acquired by MSH International extending the company’s reach globally. Learn more about Expat Insurance, Ms Warner’s personal experiences in the business, as well as her vision for her company this year in her full interview below.
A: Insurance is all I have ever known. My Mom, my aunts and cousins and my husband, are all in the insurance world. When I arrived in Singapore 12 years ago, we struggled to find travel insurance for our endless trips exploring Asia. It was a big surprise, there seemed to be no one available to help guide us through the process and products. It turned into an incredibly frustrating experience. As we settled into Singapore, everyone I met echoed the same sentiments about finding the right protection. It became obvious to me that there was a gap in the market. Establishing Expat Insurance seemed to be the solution to all that uncertainty, not just for me but also the community. It was a natural fit for me, being the one to help people through their insurance search.
Expat Insurance turns an auspicious eight years old in August. From the beginning, we have always focused on working in partnership with our clients to understand their needs, build benefits that protect and then recommend and launch bespoke service solutions to help take care of people.
I’m a true believer it’s not what we do but why we do what we do that has made the business a success. I am powered by purpose to make an impact and disrupt the stale status quo of the industry. We dare to be different. This remains unchanged since I founded the business all those years ago.
What has changed is the growth we have experienced across the business, our team and our client base. In the early days, we focused on serving the Private Client community: taking care of people and their families, one at a time. In 2013 we received our independent broking license and set out to establish our capabilities in the corporate space, launching our Employee Benefits Team. Growing in this direction allows us to make an impact for more people on a global scale.
We maintain our niche approach and are selective about the clients we work with to ensure we commit to providing them with the very best of what we do. Focusing on multinationals and Asian start-ups allows us to keep a pulse on their specific needs, understanding our client’s pain points deeply and personally so we can solve them in a unique and creative way. In 2016 I published all my insights and knowledge in a book, Bulletproof: Building Better Employee Benefits. The goal was to provide insider info, share some of our client stories and learn the blueprint we use to structure and launch our client’s benefit programmes with HR and business leaders around the world.
In 2016 we started a new era by joining forces with MSH International and SIACI Saint Honoré Group. We love being part of a group with a global footprint, another huge leap in the evolution of the business.
A: The acquisition is still incredibly exciting for me and our team. It provides us with global reach, strategic support and cross-border alliances which will benefit all clients from Expat Insurance, MSH International and SIACI Saint Honoré Group.
We are united by a common team and company culture, and we will be focused on working together to create bigger impact and drive innovation and product development. Our mutual desire is to protect the lives of the globally-mobile expatriate and the companies employing people to travel the world to build their brands.
We have strong growth targets for Southeast Asia which we will deliver (or beat!), and we garner whatever support we require from Paris which will help us scale faster. The partnership works so well because from the beginning MSH identified Expat Insurance as a market leader in Singapore and was impressed by the business growth we produced organically. No one has a desire to change our path, together we will work to achieve and realise bigger and bolder success.
A: Grow! I say this with enthusiasm because eight years in we have an incredibly strong team who are all motivated and driven to do business for the very same reasons I get out of bed in the morning: to take care of people. We want to create a bigger impact in more people’s lives. We need to continue our growth trajectory in order to make it a reality.
MSH International is focused on maintaining its leadership position in the international healthcare and life insurance market by increasing our geographic presence and reach through acquisition and partnerships on a global scale. MSH wants to grow. All of us within the group are aligned to the same vision, and we’re working toward our goals together.
A: Our brand stays, and so does our entire team. For Expat Insurance, it’s business as usual. SIACI and MSH International believe in our business model and the group values what we have built in the last eight years. We all want Expat Insurance to continue the course of exponential growth. I will remain as CEO, and I am powered by purpose to help us achieve that growth.
A: I believe in disrupting the status-quo to make an impact. Almost every day one of our team hear the words, “but my broker told me that was not possible”…restoring original intention to our industry is our responsibility. It’s why we do what we do. Our approach is what helps us create true and realised value for our clients.
With growth on the right path, in 2017 we are committed to encouraging cultural shifts in the industry and among our client base. Stay tuned for a major transformation in our own language and voice which we are hoping will change people’s mindset and the way clients expect insurance services to be delivered. We want to shake things up and get people talking.
My vision for Expat Insurance is to get bigger and bolder in our ambitions in the year ahead. My team and I will be taking action to ensure we can make these aspirations a reality and we’ll definitely focus on having fun while doing it!