Kenya’s low-income earners to benefit from new mobile-based insurance products

Tuesday March 29 2016

A global insurance-tech company, BIMA, is

A global insurance-tech company, BIMA, is conducting feasibility studies ahead of its planned introduction of low-cost in Kenya. It will use a mobile phone platform to market its products. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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A global insurance-tech company is conducting feasibility studies ahead of its planned introduction of low-cost insurance to Kenyans in partnership with a local insurance company.

BIMA’s Head of Business Development and Strategy, Ms Katerina Kyrili said Kenya had a vibrant mobile payment system that created a ready platform for them to launch their products mainly targeting the low income segment.

“Kenya’s insurance penetration is very low and we have found that the low income segment have a need that should be served and that is where our opportunity lies.

“We shall soon launch an education drive across various channels to encourage Kenyans to take up life, personal accident and disability insurance as well as hospital insurance which will help them wade off poverty,” she said during an interview.

Ms Kyrili also said that insurance products in the Kenyan market seemed to be tailored to address obligatory insurance needs such as motor insurance that is mandatory and medical insurance that companies had funded to improve their employees’ health which left out a huge potential market.

“Kenyans have always viewed insurance products as a preserve for the rich and that is where we come in to address a need for the most vulnerable people.

“I spoke with them and discovered all insurance companies in the world traditionally formulated products for the middle and upper income groups while the low income earners were ignored,” she said.

BIMA mainly sells its products via mobile phone where all payments and interactions with their clientele are conducted on phone and online platforms as a way of enhancing customer experience.

Ms Kyrili said that many agents would also be employed to market the new products that seek to introduce low cost insurance for common and urgent needs.

Interestingly, one of BIMA’s shareholders, LeapFrog has vast interests in the medical insurance sector in Kenya where it holds a majority stake in one of the leading companies.


Their mobile insurance platform is currently in use in 14 countries around the world, among them Tanzania, Ghana, Uganda and Senegal with the African clientele having risen to 4.5 million.

Ms Kyrili said that the system would not only disrupt traditional insurance services but would revolutionise the way insurance business is conducted with more products lined up for introduction as per customer needs.

She said they would partner with traditional insurance companies to power various insurance products as per the needs of individuals in urban and rural areas.

“I have spoken to people in Nairobi and discovered that many know insurance is good but are unable to apply for the same since information about insurance services is scarce,” she said.


BIMA said their strategy aimed at using the mobile money platform to reach more people saying while only a paltry 3 per cent had insurance 80 per cent of Kenyans had access to mobile phones with nearly a quarter of Kenyans having mobile phone-based money accounts.

The premium payments will be done in form of airtime deductions and direct mobile money transfers thereby helping them maintain a direct client-provider touch.

Ms Kyrili said they would soon be meeting regulatory authorities to seek registration as the Kenyan people had proved to be tech-savvy and familiar with mobile money use.

“Financial inclusion means savings, insurance and access to credit.

“Kenyans need to safeguard their health by having insurance to cater for various ailments that might befall them,” she said.

By using mobile phone platforms to market their products, BIMA said it had managed to reduce operational costs among other needs with the savings being passed on to the customers.

Ms Kyrili said that they were well funded and ready to meet all risks that they will insure.