When Gagandeep Hayer was shopping around for a car insurance cover last year, he encountered the dilemma many Kenyan insurance policy-holders face; the lack of knowledge of the options available in the market.
The insurance agent did not explain full benefits of the policy or alternatives in the market. In what would later turn out to be a novel idea, Hayer went online in search of comparative insurance policies from different Kenyan providers.
“I thought the insurance industry in Kenya, despite having a number of players, wasn’t quite providing options to consumers. There was no place where consumers can quickly compare the products and make informed decisions,” Hayer noted.
Having worked in the US for a Digital Media Company that had an insurance comparison website, Hayer,33, saw an opportunity for a similar platform in Kenya. Months later, September 2014, InsureAfrika was created
“I am very passionate about technology and how technology can add efficiency to our day to day lives and (help) in the decisions we make. Now is a good time as there is a big push on the ICT sector in Kenya to use technology and the internet as a new means to reach the consumers,” says Hayer.
The insurance comparison website couldn’t have come at a better time, according to Hayer. The Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA), in an insurance industry outlook report, had listed consumer awareness of insurance products as one of the challenges the Sh250B sector is facing.
Other bottlenecks in the insurance industry, as identified by IRA include; staffing challenges, insurance jargon too difficult to understand, brokers limited reporting and disclosure and limited use of technology and internet in the insurance sector.
Armed with this insight, and with backing from his experience in the US, Hayer started testing the idea with companies and consumers to get their feedback.
“We started with just car insurance comparison and then we added health insurance sometime in Feb 2015. After a lot of iterations based on the feedback from the companies and the buyers, we made the website live for all users and started marketing in April 2015,” says Hayer.
“Just to give you a perspective of what this means in actual shillings: the total car insurance quotes requested is about Sh25 million whereas for health insurance it is Sh9.5 million. This is the potential business that InsureAfrika could generate for insurance companies,” says Hayer, adding that consumers can now get easy to understand insurance content.
“We don’t just stop at the consumer level. InsureAfrika is creating a direct link between insurance providers and clients, 24/7 display of products online and a new means of marketing and distributing products.”
InsureAfrika.com is now offering insurance information on car, health and travel policies as it looks to expand to other fields with time. The insurance sector in Kenya is slated to grow by 20 percent year over year, but insurance penetration remains low at about 3 to 5 percent, according to IRA.
“More and more Kenyans are now becoming aware of the benefits of having insurance and are willing to learn more or purchase an insurance policy. Early feedback that we have received indicates that people are moving beyond just buying car insurance or getting a health insurance from their employers. They are now interested in buying insurances for their families or their house or when they travel,” says Hayer.
A common trend observed by online merchants based in Kenya is that consumers are increasingly going online to research about products and services before making a purchase and this is a trend that has been boosted by the growth of smart-phones in the market and competitive mobile data bundles for customers.
“These are very strong indicators of what is happening in the Kenyan market today. I strongly feel that Kenya is one of the fastest markets to adopt and embrace technology and insurance will be no different. If we can make the policies very simple and seamless, we will soon start seeing insurance policies being bought online,” says Hayer, expressing confidence in the market.