BIMA Mobile Insurance and Health

BIMA Mobile Insurance and Health

BIMA affordable insurance and health products address the very low rates of insurance penetration in African emerging markets.

In association with Tigo, Swedish company BIMA has created the first digitalised mobile insurance model by integrating its proprietary mobile insurance platform with the billing infrastructure of mobile operators. This enables customers to register and pay for insurance premiums entirely via their mobiles as well as automatically deduct premiums from their prepaid mobile credit. The approach removes high distribution cost and provides an effective recurring payment channel for the unbanked. The end result is accessible and affordable insurance for the underserved.

BIMA entered its first market in Ghana in 2010, initially focusing on providing affordable life and medical insurance products for underserved consumers and later expanding into mobile health services in 2015. The successful model has been replicated across 14 developing markets within 7 years, with 30 million policies sold worldwide and 575,000 new policy registrations per month.

BIMA now operates in Ghana, Senegal and Tanzania in Africa, in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka in Asia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea in Asia Pacific and Haiti, Honduras and Paraguay in Latin America.

BIMA’s Mobile Insurance Platform (MIP) can be easily integrated with the technology infrastructure of any mobile operator (USSD Gateway, SMSC and SDP) to enable insurance product registration and premiums collection via daily automated deduction of mobile credit on mobile phones.

Given the high mobile penetration rates in African emerging markets (over 80%), BIMA recognised the untapped potential in using mobile technology to distribute simple and affordable insurance to low-income consumers, who have been traditionally denied access to insurance because of its costs.

Customers can sign up for insurance in less than 2 minutes on their mobiles. To ensure the affordability of our products, our MIP platform breaks down the total monthly payment into micro-instalments which are deducted from the customer’s mobile credit on a daily basis. The payment model is flexible enough and allows the customers to catch-up in case they miss any instalment.

Since insurance is an entirely new concept for emerging market customers, BIMA employs a 3500-strong agent workforce dedicated to educating customers about insurance and its products to ensure responsible selling. Via the concept of mobile micro-insurance, BIMA has opened up an entirely new market of low income customers which traditional insurers did not previously have the appropriate infrastructure to address, and has given the underserved populations a valuable financial tool to protect themselves and their families in times of distress.

BIMA has widened access to insurance products for low-income consumers on an unprecedented scale. In Africa, BIMA has reached over 8.8 million customers. Globally, BIMA has reached 24 million customers in 14 countries and has sold 30 million policies, with an acquisition rate of 575,000 new registrations per month.

However, BIMA’s social impact goes beyond the customers it serves. It is committed to creating local employment opportunities and equipping employees with the skills they need through rigorous training programmes. BIMA employs 3,500 agents worldwide – with around a quarter of them in Africa – who they hire from the local communities. It creates career opportunities for low-income people who flourish in a range of insurance functions, from sales to claims management and even product design, making a key contribution to the local economy.

BIMA also challenges traditions and structures that result in gender inequality. Empowering women is a high priority within BIMA, given that 52% of its agents are women. Through the RUN initiative, an internal Women’s Leadership programme now in its second year, BIMA continually inspires its female employees around the world to progress up the ladder and become part of the management team. Participants in the RUN programme are encouraged to bring back their learning to their markets by initiating further working groups with local female employees.

BIMA products are designed to be extremely simple and stripped back, with very few policy exclusions, for both consumers to understand and sales team to sell. BIMA’s adaptive product strategy sees it create integrated products combining insurance, health and financial services to offer all-round protection to customers. Recognising the growth in smartphone penetration and data usage, BIMA is also currently developing a mHealth app to provide richer experience for customers.

The partnership model BIMA has in place with telcos demonstrates their confidence in BIMA’s sustainability. These key partnerships evolved over time, with telco partners also becoming investors. In 2011, for instance, Millicom invested in BIMA to help seed the ground for the launch of our three African markets. This secures BIMA’s place in its partners’ future mobile journey and it is therefore not subject to the same risks as other value-added services providers.

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