You founded PassportCard (then DavidShield) over 24 years ago. What was it that motivated you to do so?
At the age of 26, my life took an unexpected turn with the diagnosis of a substantial brain tumour. While my wife and I were expats in NYC, I embarked on a search for the finest medical care, ultimately leading me to Massachusetts General Hospital. However, the insurance company’s refusal to cover an out-of-network hospital posed a significant challenge. Driven by the need to save my life, I committed to superior medical treatment, bearing the entire financial burden of US$400,000 in costs. This experience planted the seed for a promise: to establish a cross-border medical insurance company that treats expatriate members with unparalleled care to build the first insurance company that people will fall in love with! Three years later, DavidShield (PassportCard) was born, driven by the unwavering principle of ‘Nobody is left behind – No Matter What!’
From then until now, our DNA thrives on this principle, and ‘No Matter What’ remains our resolute slogan.
You have operations in Cyprus, Australia, Germany and Israel. Why were those regions ones in which you chose to work, and do you plan to expand into other countries?
Our journey began in Israel, where we originated and fostered our groundbreaking technology. We strategically established our European headquarters in Germany, the largest economy in the EU. Australia, a nation where cross-border health plays a pivotal role due to its geography, became a natural choice for our hub in the Pacific. Our next market expansion will be North America, followed by Great Britain. We plan to achieve meaningful presence in the main markets within the next five years.
How has technology helped your business, and what do you think is next for PassportCard when it comes to tech?
Our patented technology empowers us to be the sole global company that processes claims in real time. Leveraging predictive AI [artificial intelligence], we proactively case manage claims from the first dollar, eliminating bureaucracy. This enables us to offer the best customer and provider experiences while maintaining industry-leading loss ratios and operational cost-effectiveness. In markets where regulatory bodies publish loss ratios and customer service metrics, we proudly lead in all aspects, supporting a minimum standard of 60 NPS [Net Promoter Score].
Looking ahead, the emergence of AGI [artificial general intelligence] technologies is a realm of excitement. With a dedicated unit of top data scientists and collaborations with Israeli startups, we’re challenging the very foundations of the industry. The potential for incremental efficiencies is apparent, but the potential for paradigm shifts is even more thrilling. Our quest is to disrupt the market, a journey we hope to cross the finish line on – and soon.
Telehealth is a huge industry now, especially with the increase in remote working and digital nomads. How has this impacted your business?
While Covid thrust telehealth into the spotlight, post-pandemic times have shown that changing habits takes time. In the era of rising AGI, existing telehealth solutions might not be the ultimate answer. But for now I am not putting my chips on the existing telehealth solutions!
How do you choose who to partner with, and how do you maintain those relationships?
Our commitment to service and stability drives us to collaborate exclusively with partners who align with our ‘Zero Surprise’ policy. Partnering with leaders in their fields ensures the highest compliance standards and financial stability. In instances where dependable partners are scarce, we bring the service in-house.
What have been your biggest challenges or successes since starting the business?
The Covid-19 era posed unprecedented challenges, from operational hibernation to supporting our dedicated team of over 700 employees. Emerging from this challenging period, our greatest achievement was not just survival, but to be thriving. Every employee returned, and our growth doubled.
What are the major challenges right now for insurtechs?
Without intending to be cynical, I find myself genuinely pondering the essence of ‘insurtech.’ In my perspective, this label lacks a truly justifiable basis. Across industries, there exists a spectrum of technological advancement, ranging from cutting-edge to rudimentary. Notably, companies that endeavour to transform an insurance offering from push to pull through sophisticated technology often adopt the insurtech label. However, given that insurance fundamentally operates as a push product, these innovative attempts to shift it to a pull product are likely to result in challenges and will end in tears…
What do you think the future looks like for insurers?
As a social finance network, insurance is poised to flourish. Unlike sectors threatened by technological shifts, insurance’s complex interplay of mathematics, philosophy and life sciences ensures its lasting significance. To my children, if the choice is between insurance, banking, or even an academic career, I advise unequivocally: insurance stands as a steadfast pillar.