Get insurance through your phone

South African insurance company Metropolitan Life has introduced a new service called Cover2go that makes innovative use of mobile phone technology from Clickatell to offer insurance cover to those on lower incomes in South Africa.

The service costs around R10 (approx €1), which is deducted from the phone’s airtime and provides instant life insurance for six days, paying out R60,000 (approx €6,300) in the case of accidental death. Cover2go has already been offered to the public at taxi ranks in Gauteng, South Africa, in a pilot campaign.

“Every day, a large majority of South Africans have to board minibus taxis, many of which are notoriously unsafe. For people travelling over the most dangerous periods such as the Easter weekend, the risk to the wellbeing of their families is very real – 276 people died this past Easter holiday. Unfortunately, the common perception is that life assurance is a luxury that’s unaffordable and complicated to obtain. With Cover2go, people can get basic cover instantly, at very affordable prices, when they need it most,” says Derek Pead, CEO of Cover2go, a division of Metropolitan Life.

“We are revolutionizing the insurance industry by putting the consumer back in control of the purchasing process, challenging the rather tired maxim that insurance can only be sold and not bought,” he continues.

The customer purchases the policy by sending their name and identity number to a premium-rate number. The system, powered by Clickatell, replies with a confirmation and policy number, requests the name of a beneficiary, and reminds the policyholder to inform an associate about the life insurance. One policy is permitted per person and a renewal notification is sent on expiry.

“Mobile phones are rapidly becoming payment channels. It’s a logical progression as mobile phones allow instant billing, they are on us all the time, and we can implement technology to make transactions safe and reliable. Metropolitan Life is a pioneer in this area, and we are excited about the possibilities that Cover2go has opened up for the financial services markets,” said Pieter de Villiers, CEO of Clickatell.

Metropolitan Life selected Clickatell based on its service delivery, its quick and flexible response to the tender, and its extensive track record in the financial services sector. The service guarantees that messages are date/time stamped, delivered, archived and the reply sent to the user. The mobile messaging company has a fully redundant platform, a world class data centre and managed backbone network to provide a robust, highly reliable service.

“Our research shows that many South Africans are aware of insurance, but often don’t take advantage of it because they think it’s unaffordable, or they have a financial glitch and skip a payment, so their policy lapses. With this kind of ‘pay as you go’ insurance, many lower income groups in under-serviced markets can get cover when they most need it,” explains Pead.

“Using mobile technology to provide insurance turns the industry on its head. Rather than designing products around what our intermediaries will sell, we can put the customer back at the centre. With mobiles phones as a sales channel, we’ll know almost instantly what the market thinks of our products. This could change the insurance landscape forever,” says Cover2Go’s Pead.