PTA Reinsurance Company, ZEP-RE is collaborating with Kenya’s insurance industry to aggressively embrace technology and help expand access to insurance service.
Speaking at CEO Breakfast, which brought together CEOs, CIOs, and Heads of Innovation and Strategy from various insurance firms, ZEP-RE Managing Director Hope Murera said the insurance industry was ripe for innovation and that disruption through the adoption of technology designed to achieve savings and efficiency was long overdue.
“The insurance industry the world over is undergoing disruption. Africa where we play is no exception. It is against this background that ZEP-RE has organized this forum to brainstorm and share ideas meant to ensure that the insurance industry players are able to seize opportunities arising from this inevitable disruption. Through the use of technology, the industry has an opportunity to embrace analytics further to come up with customised products that meet user requirements, new product development to expand and grow the pie as well as improve efficiencies that will lower distribution costs making insurance more accessible to all,” she said.
“The insurance industry the world over has been slower to innovate compared to the rest of the financial sector which has motivated ZEP-RE to champion innovation at the industry level in this regard through forums such as this,” added Murera.
“This insuretech forum is a follow up to earlier initiatives including CEO forums held previously in Nairobi, Harare and Lagos to create awareness around the opportunities digital disruption presents and how the industry should prepare itself to harness said opportunities,” Ms. Murera added.
Murera said harnessing technology is one of the levers ZEP-RE aims to use to deliver its mandate of increasing insurance penetration in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) region and the continent at large.
Themed Connecting the Digital Future of Insurance Today, the main objective of CEO Breakfast was to bring to the fore the need for insurance companies to collaborate to develop technologies that transform and disrupt the insurance value chain for growth and efficiency.
“We want to challenge the industry leadership to embrace and adapt to the digital evolution,” Murera said.
The CEO Breakfast was followed by the Insuretech forum, which brought together aspiring and established Insuretech service providers and insurance industry players.
ZEP-RE Chief Information Officer Alexio Manyonde said: “We have mobilised a number of start-ups and innovators in the insurance space and we will provide them with the platform to showcase their technology to wider industry leadership at the Insuretech forum. Our ultimate goal is to pair tech innovators with insurance service providers as means of starting the journey of development, mentorship, partnerships and joint development initiatives with the ultimate goal of, actualizing and commercialising of ideas”.
Speaking at the same forum, ZEP-RE Chairman William Erio said the insurance businesses, both in individual and regional markets had experienced challenges ranging from access to services and products, low levels of penetration and appreciation of the importance of insurance services due to low levels of financial literacy, and moral hazards such as fraud which were impacting on the proper growth of the industry.
He, however, noted that ZEP-RE was willing to support efforts to promote insurance inclusivity and financial deepening in the region.
“On the positive, we are seeing a strong sense of innovation coming into our products and service offering. The industry is also witnessing disruption in the distribution mechanisms with technology starting to play a central role. As a Company we are willing to support initiatives that will ease access to insurance especially by the low- middle income population,” Erio said.
Jubilee insurance Chief Executive Julius Kipngetich urged the industry players to consider linking up with innovators, learn from non-direct competitors, and remodel their businesses by moving from selling to marketing.
“Our brothers in the banking sector have learnt something that we in the insurance sector haven’t. We need to start working closely with innovators and thinkers – these are the people who create meaningful disruption in the insurance industry,” Kipngetich said.
Association of Kenya Insurers (AKI) Chief Executive Officer Tom Guchuhi said the sector should take innovation seriously to stave off the current decline.
“We have seen this industry going down-down but we don’t seem to know what to do about it. We seem to leave on hope that tomorrow will be better. The sector needs to think seriously about innovation and do it collaboratively,” Gichui said.
According to AKI industry report for 2018, insurance penetration in Kenya dropped to 2.43% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the lowest in more than a decade. The drop in penetration resulted into a 61.56% drop in net profits from Ksh 9.21 billion to Ksh 3.54 billion.