Making insurance accessible for everyone

Published: Mon 3 Apr 2017, 10:10 PM

Last updated: Tue 4 Apr 2017, 12:35 AM

Protection against personal and business risks are key factors in the development of economies. Markets that are well-penetrated by insurance products usually indicate a high level of development.
The Allianz Economic Research Paper - Trend Watch 3: Global insurance markets - Current status and outlook up to 2026 - indicates that the 2015 global market for insurance premiums was ?3.5 trillion ($3.8 trillion approximately) or about 5.7 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP).
Quick comparisons reveal very interesting numbers. The per capita annual premium on insurance in Western Europe will rise from ?2,480 in 2015 to ?3,320 in 2026. In the same period, Middle East and Africa will grow from ?130 per capita annually to ?180.
Multiple sources, including the Mini Guide brought out by the Middle East Insurance Review circa 2013, indicate that insurance products contribute to much less than two per cent of the GDP in all Mena markets.
Consequently, there are 350 million low- to middle-income people in Mena who do not have access to any sort of insurance. For this segment, risk protection tools such as life insurance, social security, public healthcare, personal and family savings would be life-changing.
Recognising the opportunity, Michele Grosso, founder and CEO of Democrance (, decided to do something about it. He has spent over seven years in the insurance industry, first with AXA and then with MetLife, across Paris, Cairo and Dubai. He has seen first-hand how providing insurance to the masses could solve social challenges in the region. He decided to channel his knowledge and passion for this business and convert it into a profitable and meaningful venture.
An Italian, his master's degree in management from ESCP Europe across London, Madrid and Paris has prepared him well to launch his start-up.
He quit the corporate world in 2015 with a vision to democratise insurance and make it available for everyone through technology. He built a proprietary digital and mobile technology-based platform. The platform enables insurance providers to effectively and efficiently distribute insurance coverage digitally to unbanked customers, who are typically not covered via traditional channels.
For insurance providers, Democrance opens up a completely new market - the 99 per cent of the population that has been overlooked until today. For consumer-facing organisations such as telcos, remittance houses and retail networks, Democrance opens up an additional revenue and loyalty opportunity. This strong proposition has put the company in a position where it is already implementing multiple pilots and has received keen interest from prospects in Egypt, Bahrain, Morocco and Jordan.
Democrance has grown from an idea fuelled by passion to a fully-fledged social business, with employees, clients, partners and advisors. Democrance recently opened its first round of funding and has already raised capital from DP World's Turn8 and the London-based Insurance Technology venture capital firm, EOS Venture Partners, as well as from select angel investors.
Grosso is 30 years old and loves kite surfing and opera. However, his total focus on making insurance and protection accessible for everyone via Democrance leaves him very little time for play. -

By Sanjiv Purushotham

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