Disrupting the Insurance sector

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By Brian Yatich

Conversations around insurance products for small business owners and individuals in Kenya is often met with half-hearted responses. Many view insurance covers as unnecessary expense. Others see it as a luxury instead of a necessity. Insurance penetration in Kenya is below 3 per cent with only 20 per cent of Kenyans having some form of cover.

Insurance providers have over the years been devising ways to further grow insurance services in the country. Microinsurance has slowly emerged as a possible way of roping in families with low income.  One of the key areas, insurance companies are looking to rope in this population is through technology.

Technology has brought out a different side of insurance, making it an easier and quicker process for people and businesses to choose from, presenting a variety of products either through online or through mobile phones Via Smartphones Apps or USSD Codes.

One such insurer, seeking to capitalize on this prospective sector is Bluewave Insurance Company. The micro-insurance entity focuses on mid and lower income bracket.

“Around 1.2 billion Africans do not have immediate access to insurance products. Every day insurable risks such as health slowly lead people into poverty. We seek to change that,” says Adelaide Odhiambo, the Founder Bluewave Insurance.

Bluewave uses research, innovation, and technology to come up with insurance products that resonate well with the low-end market making insurance simple and easy giving their clients the right options to choose better.

With a robust micro insurance platform, Odhiambo alludes that they design microinsurance products that work for the local mwananchi which enables easy, affordable access to insurance.

Odhiambo who has over 13 years working for top insurance companies such as Jubilee Insurance, APA insurance and Liberty Insurance, has grasped massive skillset and experience in designing, developing and managing both conventional and microinsurance products. “Our objective from day one has always been people-centric, how will this influence and create an impact on the society,” she says.

The firm’s offering range from micro-insurance offerings covers motor, health and life covers. Bluewave, through its core product Imarisha Jamii applies its technology capabilities to improve clients’ enrolment, product-service and processing claims through a digital platform.

Using USSD-based platform, users can compare and choose from a range of plans across top insurance companies where they will be allowed to understand the key features and be able to buy policies instantly and safely.

Imarisha Jamii has opened opportunities for anyone between the ages of 18 and 65 years old irrespective of their pre-existing medical conditions covering hospital expenses, disability and death at a cost of KShs. 20 weekly.”

Ms Odhiambo adds that Bluewave has made the option simple for any user to access insurance even for clients who are using the basic feature phone at a click of a button and in the comfort of their homes.

Users simply dial the *643# and then select the Imarisha Jamii option. They enter their financial output followed by amount. Users have the option of paying either on a weekly or a monthly premium. Payments are made over mobile money platform M-PESA. The Insurtech firm cashes in through administration fees from every subscriber in their platform and also earns commissions from each premium they have collected.

“Through technology, Bluewave has addressed the most common customer complaints customers have. This include of delayed payment of claims, the tedious paperwork as well as having to walk in to an insurance branch to receive service,” she says.

Partnership

Licensed as an insurance intermediary and a technology company, the insurance firm uses aggregators like Mobile Network Operators (MNO’s), Banks and Microfinance Institutions to disseminate their products.

Odhiambo says is the reason that people don’t have access to insurance is perhaps the general assumption and understanding of how insurance works is another obstacle, efficiency of the process and Bluewave is demystifying those barriers as a business.

Odhiambo believes that insurance penetration will continue to rise as the country is fast adopting fintech solutions. “People are becoming more and more aware about their financial needs as well as how to secure themselves.”

A sign that Bluewave is creating an impact in the market, the startup was named the best startup in Nairobi – representing Kenya and earning a place at the global SeedStars World competition final and the chance to pitch for US$1 million in equity investment.

“I believe we have a strong product we believe will change how our continent addresses risks. Africa needs to rise and solve its own problems and rely less on the western world,” she says.

Looking into the future Bluewave is intending to grow significantly with an ambition to cut across the insurance sector with an ambition to grow in over 10 markets by 2030, “We are aggressively looking for investors who can propel us, we believe that we can create a disruption in Africa by tapping at the bottom of the pyramid,”

As a final word of advice for upcoming entrepreneurs and startup driving companies, Adelaide Odhiambo encourages that whichever gender you are if you have a strong passion and purpose beyond any financial compensation in changing people’s lives, go for it!

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