When we started MicroEnsure in 2002, we challenged ourselves to provide mass-market customers with microinsurance health safety. Our dreams have borne fruit. Today, we serve customers in Africa, India, and other growing countries.
It’s a truism. No one wakes up in the morning, skips breakfast and dashes out the door to buy insurance. But just about all people open their eyes in the morning worrying about the risks encountered daily. “What would happen to my family if something went wrong?…Could we pay for a hospital stay?…Say the breadwinners in our family met an untimely death?”
So we focused our efforts on developing a range of innovative, affordable, and trustworthy products that cover unexpected risks. And microinsurance health safety is one of them.
In a podcast interview I recorded last year, I talked about the “fire in my belly” that drove me to start the company. In his blog post Brian Prows wrote:
During our interview Richard talks humbly and persuasively about banks, insurance companies and mobile operators taking a “leap of faith” to improve financial inclusion. CMO’s must be convinced in their guts that MicroEnsure’s work is necessary and can generate profits for its partners. “We must not lose focus on why we’re doing this…we need to affect people’s lives.”
He talks about an event that brought him to his knees in Bangladesh. When children get sick, the government is supposed to supply health care, but doctors aren’t there. When he visited the country, one woman lost her child who grew sick. She went to a non-profit mission clinic; but payment was required up front. She ran back home and sold everything she had only to return to the clinic and find her dead child. Richard sat in the slum saying “I can’t stand by without an answer and do nothing…You must have ‘fire in your belly.’ I’m going to do something about this.” He joined the financial inclusion movement and left his job to make a difference.
Learn What the Customer Wants
First, we visited target countries, talked to people in villages, markets, and communities. Our team walked the streets speaking with ordinary people who had needs we could solve. MicroEnsure’s staff wanted to completely understand what citizens in emerging markets wanted and needed from insurance, ensuring our new microinsurance health safety products solved perpetual problems of the poor.
In India, two boys played in the streets, climbed to a roof, and then…
This story ended well for which we’re grateful. But that’s not always the case. So recently we partnered with Telenor, an India telco to offer free life insurance.
Engaging Microinsurance Health Safety Partners and Customers
Certainly, most people are fully aware of the risks they face and want to protect themselves. But often people go uninsured due to lack of trust in the industry or lack of access. For example, MicroEnsure was the first insurance provider our customers ever had.
We’ve made an effort to create ground-breaking products that actually do what they should. For MicroEnsure, gaining the trust of our customers is paramount. That means we will do what we say, like paying claims quickly and often. We accept different forms of identification and documentation, like WhatsApp and SMS, as we know not everyone has available ID’s.
We found that mobile phone companies have issues with loyalty. In some markets, a single customer could have 2, 3 or even 4 SIM cards at any one time.
Therefore, we convinced the Telcos to give away free insurance alongside airtime purchases! So, the more customers spent with their network, the more free insurance they received.
It’s a basic concept that has worked. The customers saw the benefits of these products and that companies were willing to mitigate the risks they faced for free, and as a result, they were willing to change their consumer behavior.
Naturally, this led to customers spending more of their airtime on those networks that offered free insurance. The simple rule is when a company creates a simple product that is easy to understand and offers the customer easy access by way of a brand they already trust, the demand drastically increases.
We’re proud of how we’ve helped financial inclusion in the insurance world. We look forward to continuing our mission to help people live their lives with dignity by feeling safe and living with the security that insurance brings. We’re committed to microinsurance health safety.
Written by Richard Leftley, CEO of MicroEnsure