Hiscox, a specialist insurance group, has reached an agreement with Whittington Group, the Singapore-headquartered insurance services and investment business, to purchase its direct-to-consumer online operation DirectAsia, for$55m.

The acquisition of DirectAsia, which specializes in selling motor insurance policies online, has been approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and pending approval from the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) in Hong Kong.

Following completion of the transaction, the acquired company will continue to operate under the DirectAsia brand and with the existing local management team, which will be led by Steve Langan – Hiscox UK and Europe MD and now CEO of DirectAsia Group.

Hiscox CEO Bronek Masojada said that DirectAsia gives Hiscox a 21st century distribution platform in Asia that leapfrogs traditional routes to market.

"DirectAsia complements our direct-to-consumer businesses in Europe and the US, and in time, we will use it to distribute Hiscox products," Masojada added.

Whittington Group CEO Anthony Hobrow commented, "We are very pleased that we have been able to pass this unique platform to Hiscox who can supply expertise, capital and a strong customer focussed culture to help us further develop and grow the business."

Established in 2010 in Singapore, DirectAsia was launched into Hong Kong and Thailand in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

The company, which mainly focuses on motor insurance, serves more than 54,000 customers, with 140 staff across the three locations in which it operates.