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Business News of Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Source: B&FT

Mobile phones boost insurance sales

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More people are signing up for insurance products using their mobile operator, thereby deepening the penetration rate for micro-insurance in the country over the past three years.

A 2014 National Insurance Commission (NIC) study found that 28 percent of people have a micro-insurance product either through a mobile operator, savings account, or in a loan product.

Mobile operator tigo and, more recently, Airtel and MTN now offer micro-insurance policies to their customers.

Micro-insurance products through mobile operators have seen a steady rise in the last one year and is growing. The tigo insurance programme, for instance, has 1.5million customers actively registered as at October 9, 2015.

The number of mobile phone subscriptions in the country grew by 20 percent last year to 25.6 million, pointing to the fact that use of mobile services continues to grow strongly.

Mobile phone network operators added a little over 4.35 million new active mobile phone lines to the 21,265,706 subscriptions at the beginning of 2012, bringing the year-end figure to 25,618,427.

This brings the mobile phone penetration rate to more than 100 percent, which statistically means that access to mobile phone services is available to all the estimated 24.6 million Ghanaian population.

Russel Haresign, Country Manager for BIMA, a mobile micro insurance service provider which in partnership with tigo runs the tigo Insurance Programme, told the B&FT that: “tigo and BIMA are registering 10,000 policies every month, and we are always looking for ways to reach our target market.

“The mass market believes that insurance is for the high-income consumer and so they haven’t understood how insurance works. Additionally, nobody really had the right micro-insurance product for people. But things have improved rapidly over the last four years. I have no doubt that micro-insurance will continue to grow,” he said.

BIMA is also expanding its reach to other members of the public who are not tigo subscribers.

“We didn’t want to be limited to just tigo customers. We have had very popular adoption amongst tigo customers, but there are 25million people in Ghana and we want to service them all. This is so as we make micro-insurance and health products available that everybody can sign up to.

“We have life and a personal accident policy that is designed for low-income consumers. We continue to improve the products every year. We have signed up 160,000 policies since we launched a year and half ago. You can get a year’s worth of protection for just GH¢18,” said the BIMA boss, whose insurance products are underwritten by Prudential Insurance.

Insurance penetration in sub-Saharan Africa is considered generally low. Ghana’s general and life insurance penetration is about 1 percent. This is very low compared to markets such as Kenya and South Africa, where penetration is about 15 percent and 3 percent respectively.