Expansion of Microinsurance Services
Country: Papua New Guinea
Project Date: May 2015 – Dec 2017
Grant: USD $503, 236
Target: 76,542 active rural policies, 138,019 active women with policies
Current reach: 397,751 people with either hospitalization or life insurance or both. Close to 800,000 policies were sold throughout the project life. 120 agents (45% women) signed up and two new branches were established.
Project Status: Closed (BIMA will continue to report enrollments till June 2020)
Papua New Guinea (PNG) is one of the least-insured countries in the world. The impact of ‘shocks’ such as serious injury in the family, or death of a loved one can put significant financial stress on households. Prior to BIMA’s entry into the market, formal insurance products required high, lump-sum premiums which the average citizen could not afford.
The challenges of doing business in PNG, including high expense in reaching areas outside of the capital city, and the absence of existing, affordable insurance products, and security issues, all make PNG a prime market for mobile based solutions. Against this backdrop, and with 50% of the population with mobile subscriptions, of whom 95% are Digicel customers, BIMA is well positioned to increase penetration of insurance in PNG
BIMA meets this need by focusing on offering convenient, affordable life and hospitalisation insurance cover via a mobile platform to low-income, financially underserved Papuans. BIMA’s insurance products are cheaper and simpler to use than traditional insurance, making them appealing to low-income customers.
These new microinsurance products have managed to do away with the usual lengthy paperwork processes, preliminary health checks and identification associated with some traditional insurance products. Subscription via text message leads to enrollment and periodic insurance premiums are set up for automatic deductions.
For a price as little as PGK3.60 (USD $1.43) per month– the equivalent of one hour’s work at the average wage in PNG – a person’s life can be insured for a minimum of PGK 4,000 (USD $1,596). In comparison, on an average wage, an individual saving the same amount of PGK3.60 a month would take 92 years to try to reach PGK4,000.
PFIPs investment grant helped BIMA expand outreach in the underdeveloped Highlands region, through reducing delivery costs, while improving customer service.
PFIP’s investment targeted reaching an additional 76,542 rural Papuans with low-cost life and/or health insurance within two years, of whom 50% are women and 90% are rural-dwellers. BIMA’s performance has significantly surpassed this target, proving the value rural Papuans find in this cover. In less than 6 months, BIMA surpassed this initial target and has become one of PFIP’s most successful investments to date.
Uptake of services in the Highlands will be driven by significantly increasing the number of agents, focussing on targeted marketing, agent/customer training campaigns comprising of below the line marketing and outbound selling via BIMA’s call centre. The PFIP grant will help fund additional costs associated with travelling to educate and acquire rural customers.
BIMA offers mobile financial services to the unbanked, with a focus on micro-insurance. The company, formed in 2010, works to bring more affordable insurance to people in emerging markets via their mobile phones and already covers millions of people across Africa, Asia and Latin America. BIMA has grown rapidly since its launch and now reaches 20 million customers in 15 markets with insurance products such as life, accident and health coverage policies.
BIMA’s global customer base is growing at a rate of 700,000 new policyholders per month, reflecting large-scale demand for its products and its low-cost operational and distribution model. Its shareholders include emerging markets focused investors Kinnevik, LeapFrog Investments and Millicom. Digicel, one of the largest mobile network operators in the Pacific, has also provided USD 5 million in investment to bring micro-insurance to the Caribbean and Asia Pacific, including PNG.