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Can Insurtech Solve Nigeria’s Low Insurance Coverage Problem?

Nigeria’s insurance industry has a lot of growth potential. Of its 200 million inhabitants, there are enough individuals to constitute one of the world’s largest markets for insurance products.

However, the current reality doesn’t exactly match this perception.

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Consider this. According to a 2018 report from Statista, about 97% of Nigerians did not have any health insurance. Other sources put the figure closer to 99%. Even lower policy adoption rates also bedevil life, motor vehicle, fire, and liability insurance policies.

This underutilization is reflected by indices such as the Insurance Penetration Rate, which is the amount of insurance premium in a country as a percentage of that country’s total GDP. As of 2017, Nigeria had an Insurance Penetration Rate of less than 1%– one of the lowest in the world.

Within the same period, South Africa’s Insurance penetration Rate stood at 16.99%; countries like Mauritius, Lesotho, and Zimbabwe were also ahead of Nigeria in this respect.

Nigerians aren’t taking to insurance nearly as much as their counterparts elsewhere in the world. Reasons often cited for this include high acquisition costs, the apparent lack of instant benefits, low levels of trust, a cultural aversion towards planning for possible future mishaps, and a sheer lack of awareness around the benefits of insurance coverage.

The obstacles to greater insurance penetration are clear. But are there ways to get past them?

Insurtech: A Brief Introduction

Among the many possible solutions to this problem, one stands out as both uniquely contemporary and potentially applicable across the world. It’s the marriage of insurance and digital technology, or ‘insurtech’.

Insurtech involves deploying digital technology for the insurance business in innovative ways. The main thrust of the insurtech revolution is the delivery of customized insurance products to end-users, typically via digital platforms like the internet, mobile phone apps, and USSD.

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Startups working in this space can utilize the streams of data from customers’ devices to develop and offer personalized insurance policies.

In 2019, the global insurtech industry was worth $5.48 billion. It’s expected to cross the $10 billion mark by 2025. This growth points to the increased use of digital insurance services in various parts of the world.

Insurance Technology to the Rescue?

In Nigeria, insurtech has barely taken off as a phenomenon. A few companies are treading this path, but more could emerge in the coming years.

AutoGenius is Nigeria’s oldest insurtech company. Founded in 2014, AutoGenius allows its users to purchase auto insurance online. There’s also Cassava, which offers micro-insurance solutions covering health, education, auto, and funerals.

Another company in this domain is Curacel. It began as an electronic health information management system for hospitals but branched into insurance when its founders spotted the gap in the industry. They now help insurance companies in Nigeria support rapid claims management and fraud detection.

Insurance product comparison platforms like CompareIN and CompareGuru allow visitors to get quotes for various types of insurance policies from institutions that offer them. This service enables members of the public to select plans that fit their budget and meet their specific needs.

The traditional insurers are also getting in on the act. Some of them have partnered with tech-driven firms to enable them to reach a broader audience. One example is Zenith Insurance’s collaboration with MTN to launch a USSD service that would allow users to access insurance from their phones.

It’s not hard to see why these moves are happening. Nigeria has over 180 million active phone lines and 126 million internet users, according to the NCC. These represent a significant portion of the country’s population. The fact that they can be reached via a handy medium like a mobile phone makes targeting them via digital channels a no-brainer.

However, insurtech is still in its early stages of development in Nigeria. If it’s going to overcome the obstacles that have beset traditional insurance, it will have to tailor its services to the peculiar needs of Nigerians. It does have an advantage in this respect: it comes with the tools required to build personalized products. This ingredient is what makes it a promising solution to the country’s low insurance coverage problem.


Featured Image Source: BBC

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Ikenna Nwachukwu

Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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