Discovery Enters Japanese Insurance With Sumitomo, SoftBank Deal

  • Vitality programs to be offered after regulatory approvals
  • Discovery CEO Gore says company doesn’t need more territories

Discovery Ltd., South Africa’s third-largest insurer by market value, said it has set up a partnership with Japan’s Sumitomo Life Insurance Co. and SoftBank Group Corp. to develop and introduce products for the world’s third-largest economy.

Discovery’s Vitality program, which rewards members for exercising and eating healthy, will be introduced through Sumitomo and use SoftBank’s technological and digital capabilities, Adrian Gore, chief executive officer of Johannesburg-based Discovery, said by phone on Thursday. The three partners will also create a database to collect health-related information, which will help the insurers to price the products and set up reinsurance, he said.

Gore, 52, started Discovery in Johannesburg in 1992 as a health-insurance administrator and it has since branched out into life cover, investment funds, credit cards and property and casualty insurance. It’s now one of the top 40 largest companies in South Africa and has more than 3.5 million Vitality members in countries including the U.K., the U.S., Germany, China, Singapore and Australia. Membership numbers may leap further with Japan being the world’s second-biggest insurance market, according to Gore.

“The Japanese market is ideal and after speaking with a number of insurers, we felt we had a good fit with Sumitomo,” Gore said. “We’ve now got a lot on our plate. We don’t need more territories, we need to get more traction.”

Pending approval from the relevant authorities, the development of the Vitality program for the Japanese market will start immediately.

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