3 Early Lessons in Digital Insurance Adoption from an Impact Insurance Start-up

 

Since launching two hospital cash insurance products in Kenya and Rwanda earlier this year, Inclusivity Solutions has been busy implementing, learning and iterating. Whilst our products are still relatively fresh in the market, we’re already seeing a number of interesting insights emerge. We’re excited to share a selection of these findings exclusively with our newsletter subscribers:

  1. When speaking to customers is not enough.

It cannot be understated how important the impact of a 160-character SMS can be to growing a digital insurance client base. As a medium, SMS is both cost efficient, scalable and very often the first contact that a subscriber has with the service. It was for this reason that our Customer Experience team conducted a series of focus groups shortly after launching one of our products in East Africa to gather feedback on our SMS marketing campaigns.

Overwhelmingly the majority of the groups rated most effective those SMS messages highlighting the number of customers already registered (“80,000 signed up so far”) and the value of claims already made (“Over 3 million in claims paid”). However, one week later we reviewed the delivery statistics and uptake rates of a number of SMS blasts that had taken place over the previous months. Surprisingly, not only were those messages highlighting customer and claims figures at the bottom of the list in terms of effectiveness, but our best performing message was one with somewhat unassuming wording that no one in the focus groups particularly cared for: “You have not yet registered for hospital cash insurance. Sign up now”.

The transactional tone of this message, although devoid of marketing-speak, led to 65% more product registrations over a three-month period as compared to the wording preferred by customers in the focus groups. In the end, data had “out-perceived” the customer’s own perceptions of their preferences.

Check out Tyler’s blog on Next Billion for more of our consumer marketing insights

  1. Can insurance positively impact partner KPIs?

As our products operate within partnerships, it is key that they provide mutual benefit to all involved. While revenue streams are certainly one shared benefit amongst all partners, adjacent benefits like reduced customer churn and increased average revenue per user (ARPU) are also key to our mobile operator partners.

By linking free hospital cover to customer engagement on the networks of our mobile partners, we seek to drive those adjacent benefits through insurance. And now with a number of months of data under our belt, we’re happy to share the positive results.

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Subscribers who had registered for insurance in one of our markets, recorded on average a 15% greater increase in ARPU on the mobile network after registering for insurance, as compared to their peers who did not register for insurance. This was measured over a five-month period from launch.

Likewise, we also found that insurance-registered customers increased the value of their mobile money transactions statistically more than those mobile money customers who had not registered for insurance. For one partner, insurance-registered subscribers outperformed their unregistered peers by 18% in terms of revenue generated on the mobile money platform.

While the impact of insurance cannot fully be isolated from that of other partner offerings, our data across markets shows a clear and consistent financial benefit to operators amongst those who register for insurance. Likewise, this indicates customers are perceiving enough value in the insurance offerings to warrant a change in behaviour in order to qualify.

  1. Collecting the premiums

Despite the advantages digital distribution brings to insurance, it is not a panacea for premium collection.   Without a doubt there are still a number of stars that must align for premium collection to work well when selling on an individual basis to emerging consumers.

Our experience indicates one of the biggest keys is to align premium channels with customers’ existing behaviours. Although mobile operators are often very keen to use mobile money for premium payments, the reality is that, in many markets, customer usage of mobile wallets to store value and make payments remains low. In these markets, other channels like airtime deduction for premium or bundling with other products may be key to unlocking payments and persistency.

Likewise, if requiring customers to initiate premium payments, the process must require as little effort from consumers and as infrequently as possible. And while this may lead providers to consider lump-sum payments for six months or one year of coverage at a time, it’s still important to balance that option with affordability challenges as evidenced by one recent focus group participant:

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“Paying 800 at once is a lot of money for some people, but if it is 40 per day that’s less heavy for people. So you won’t feel the money go because it is a smaller amount. It depends on the different social categories you are in. If your income is high then you can pay at once, but if your income is low then you can’t.”

Our learnings on payments are still evolving, but additional analysis thus far has also indicated three other key insights:

  1. Higher-touch channels like agents have much greater payment success than purely digital, but come with some trade-offs regarding scalability
  2. The more a customer uses a mobile network, the greater their propensity is to pay their insurance premiums.
  3. The older a customer is, the more likely they are to pay.

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Conclusion

In just a few short months, we’re thrilled to have signed up over 230,000 customers on our insurance offerings and already paid hundreds of claims to help customers get back on their feet after hospital stays. As we progress we’ll keep combining customer engagement and big data to refine and improve the products. Through partner engagement, we’ll continue ensuring sustainability by creating value for everyone involved. And although the markets where we focus may come with their unique challenges, we’ll continue forging new paths for insurance to succeed through digital channels as we believe everyone deserves the opportunity to protect their livelihood.

 

To hear more about our journey and observations be sure to follow us on our social media channels.

 

 

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