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Rethinking insurance penetration in Africa.

The flight connections to my final destination were not the best. To get to Ukunda, I left Hannover on a Turkish airline flight through Istanbul then Nairobi. Arriving at 4am, I connected to Wilson Airport and with a 540 plane, headed to Ukunda. The trip was to attend the AIBK (Association of Insurance Brokers Kenya) conference, the biggest gathering of its kind in the region with participants from #Kenya, #Uganda, #Tanzania, #Rwanda, #Burundi, UAE etc.

StilFresh was invited by the Principal Secretary, Ministry of Transport, State Department of Maritime and Shipping Affairs to share her platform in highlighting missed opportunities in the Kenyan #marineinsurance market. The organisers did a fantastic job. And the location! On the border with Tanzania, Ukunda boasts of one of the best beaches in East Africa. The theme of the event was Harnessing the future of Insurance.

The speakers were varied. The topics were diverse. Generally, M&As and branding stood out as priority for the industry. #PeterNduati, CEO of Resolution insurance received a thunderous applause after his talk about repositioning his company as a young girl called Maria with specific needs.

As an industry based on trust combined with the low penetration levels in Africa, one would have hoped to hear more about the single most important aspect of insurance from the viewpoint of the untrusting medium to low income African. Making up the majority of Africans, they happen to be the section of the populace which holds the key to unlocking insurance penetration. For ‘Maria’ to part ways with her hard earned shillings, she needs to know that her claim will be adequately and timeously covered when the unfortunate event occurs. There is much doubt she will be concerned about anything else if she is not getting what, in her view, is her money’s worth.

Kingsly, StilFresh with Kashif Chaudry of MIC Global Risk

Little was said about claims and how to make it work for the industry. Some markets understand this all too well. Rather than looking at a claiming client as a liability, Maria should be viewed as an opportunity to demonstrate a promise kept. Nothing breeds trust, at least from an African perspective like a good or positive word of mouth. The most popular local restaurants and the traditional healers whom every one run to when sick rely on word of mouth for traction. Coupled with the advancement of technology, the glad tidings of a paid claim can also spread very quickly.

Unlocking insurance penetration in Africa may entail going back to the basics of a rural African community. On Sundays and on market days, various groups gather to discuss financial needs of their communities. In Cameroon, these are called njangi or stokvel in South Africa and chamas in Swahili. Could these present a good opportunity for insurance brokers to spread the gospel of insurance? Could well trained claims handlers also serve as a good starting point for word-of-mouth following? May be, just may be, the rejected stone may become the corner stone once again.

All in all. It was a good trip. For anyone planning on attending the conference next year take a day or two to experience Ukunda. It may leave you wanting for more.

 

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