By Barbara Ndiba
BimaNet Kenya has introduced an innovative model of distributing life insurance through network marketing with an aim of increasing insurance penetration in the country.BimaNet is Africa’s first and only income protection and insurance benefits club working with industry stakeholders to increase penetration to 6 percent by 2020.
The company has repackaged Life Insurance making interesting to Kenyans who would not ordinarily purchase this product as a matter of course.
Backed by state of the art technology, their Customer Referral Program provides an opportunity for anyone to plug into the system and build a lucrative business with a residual income component.
According to Ms. Wanjiru Githiomi-Nganga, BimaNet’s Chief Executive Officer one of the primary reasons touted for the dismal penetration statistics is that the industry has been heavily reliant on less than 4000 active insurance distributors to convert about 20 million insurable Kenyans to customers.
“ It’s us to rethink and innovate around insurance distribution so that we can turn the tide on the dismal statistics of insurance penetration in Kenya.In this regard, BimaNet is tapping into the potential of all economically active Kenyans with a flair for sales, enrolling them as members of the club and nurturing them into successful team builders and distributors of insurance within its micro marketing platform,”says Nganga.
John Ndara, BimaNet’s Resident Actuary and Executive Director noted that it took us 4 years of research and planning to adapt these models to suit the local conditions.
“We have conscientiously structured our business to address most of the pain points in Kenya’s insurance industry and develop a first of its kind distribution model that establishes a win-win relationship between the underwriters, insurance distributors (Agents and Brokers) and the general public at large,”comments Ndara.
When a customer subscribes to BimaNet, their membership entitles them to a 5 in 1 package of insurance products comprising a life policy, critical illness, last expense, in hospital cash payout and personal accident rider benefits.
It provides these benefits at a substantial discount of up to 75 percent, augments them with a Benevolent Fund that doubles the sums assured by the underwriter and pays cash back for no claims.
The company is currently in partnership with UAP- Old Mutual and Sanlam and holding discussions with several other underwriters who have the capacity to service the anticipated critical mass of members that the company targets.
Kenya’s listed insurance industry in the first quarter of their results, recorded an average decline of 5.6 percent in core earnings per share, from an average gain of 69.4 percent realized in the same period last year.
The sector in Kenya is saturated and faces low penetration rates in one of the best-regulated markets attributed to its fragmentation and competition. However, penetration still remains low at 3.0 percent, lower than the average of 3.8 percent in Africa.