For many years, the local insurance industry has been struggling to reach the uninsured. However, new players are beginning to realize the benefit of integrating technology in their operations to increase efficiency and even more important reconnect with customers.
Insurtech firms tend to focus on increased personalization, greater speed and efficiency of services to meet changing customer needs. Many are now making use of AI (Artificial Intelli-gence), Blockchain and IoT (Internet of Things) to come up with innovative insurance solu-tions. Whereas some are focused on displacing the industry heavy-hitters, others are working with leading insurance underwriters as agents as they transition to the age of digital innova-tion-one such provider is mTek Services.
“Digital disruption has transformed many industries over the past decade. In the same way, the transport and logistics sector was disrupted by Uber, and hospitality by Airbnb, the world of insurance is being shaken up by insurtechs,” says Bente Krogmann, the co-founder and CEO of mTek Services during an interview with this magazine at their office in Westlands Nairobi.
mTek is an innovative mobile application currently available on Google Playstore. The plat-form provides an entirely paperless end-to-end platform for the insurance industry. The app allows customers to purchase insurance directly from the insurer and file for claims – all from the convenience of their phones.
mTek offers customers paperless insurance in motor, health, evacuation and recently travel.
“The app allows one to purchase insurance from a specific or underwriter of choice in real time and claims can be settled faster. Instead of taking days or even weeks, using mTek takes only a few minutes,” she adds.
The app has several functionalities as a client can compare policies from different underwrit-ers and opt for the one they see fit.
mTek’s developments are mirrored by industry research which suggests that up to 25 per cent of small business insurance premium could be digitally underwritten by the end of 2020, a proposition supported by demographic trends and changing small business owner behaviours.
Mobile penetration is also making this possible. As of 2018, FSD Africa indicated that about 5 in 10 people in sub-Saharan Africa had a mobile phone. In Nigeria, it was more than 70 percent and in Kenya almost 90 per cent.
In some African countries, more people have access to a mobile phone than they have access to electricity. We are extremely a ‘mobile’ nation, says Bente. “Just like mobile money has deepened financial exclusion, we are making use of mobile apps to take insurance to the un-insured.”
Mobile technology gives insurtech providers a way to reach a large and growing market through a cost-efficient digital platform.
“When a country has less than 3 per cent penetration of insurance like we do, it means there is a problem. The sector needs to adapt, make use of technology to communicate to clients in a language that they understand. Tech will help curb fraud, drive down costs, streamline in-ternal processes and ultimately tailor products to the needs of specific income groups,” she notes, adding that, “The more we have less human interaction in distribution of insurance, the more efficient we will be, especially in reducing fraud.”
“We cannot mitigate disasters when they happen, people need to understand that. And the only way we can cushion ourselves against eventualities is through insurance,” advises the executive.
Insurance is also key to the welfare plans of communities in developing markets like Kenya. An eventuality, like illness, theft or accident can leave families without money, food or even shelter. “With this hindsight, we started mTek in 2017 to insure the uninsured and contribute to the welfare plan of communities,” says Bente.
Their ultimate goal was to simplify customer experiences and deliver solutions through a mo-bile app. The firm was launched in 2019 after a two-year development period.
“With the complexity of the local industry and integrating with different systems and part-ners, it is not easy to come up with a one fit all solutions. We also had to build a robust sys-tem with integrity, security, sustainability and options to scale,” says the entrepreneur.
She further believes in building people and helping them to deliver their best. At their Westland offices, their staff is graced by youthful and enthusiastic employees.
“We have other members of staff such as the IT associates who work from home. We are al-so proud of our modern working culture which brings out the best in people,” she reveals.
“You can only grow as an organization when there is focus and energy,” says the 32-year-old CEO, who ventured into the industry out of passion. Now at the helm of the budding firm, she is optimistic that the company will continue to innovate and make a difference in the indus-try.
As the CEO, Bente accepts that the insurtech industry has its own challenges. For instance, there are no regulations that govern the digital insurance space, making it difficult for the industry to innovate. Attracting and retaining the right talent is also a nightmare. “There is also lack of enough data to draw meaningful insights and use them for customized solu-tions,” she says.
Despite the challenges, she’s bullish about the insurtech industry and upbeat to make use of the platform (encourages other underwriters to use mTek) as a distribution channel.