Cover2go, a division of Metropolitan Life, received enormous media interest in its world-first mobile phone based insurance. After a successful trial during Easter, and a brief regroup and refinement of strategy, the company has now come back with a full-blown nationwide product offering that provides life cover, insurance cover and more.
"The majority of South Africans don¹t have any insurance, and have essentially never had any insurance, because traditional insurance products require a bank account for premium payment, and are sold through brokers," explains Derek Pead, CEO of Cover2go.
"For decades, people in townships and rural areas made a plan by setting up semi-formal funeral savings societies, but these lacked any sort of regulation, and in some cases they were scams or defrauded people.
"The problem was simple: how do we bring the benefits of a fully regulated, full-service insurance products to the majority of South Africans. The answer? Mobile technology."
Cover2go's business model is based on direct access to consumers through low-cost technology channels such as mobile phone and the web. There are around 25-million cellphone subscribers in South Africa with 8,3% of the population having accessed the web in the last 12 months.
High-tech direct channels allow Cover2go to create products at very low price-points, without multiple levels of markups by intermediaries, or the need to pay for large administration centres. Products can be sold directly through mobile phones, or via fixed terminals in spaza shops and supermarkets connected to the mobile data networks.
"We can dramatically increase the number of consumers that we can address, and in most cases not cannibalise on existing broker-based business. We can also innovate and roll out products to market incredibly quickly - we're talking a few weeks, not months or years - and even fine-tune them on the fly," says Pead.
"Cover2go gives Metropolitan Life access to a whole new market, as well as creating an innovation lab for new ideas. The insurance industry will never be the same again."