One of the key drivers of the Allianz Group’s continuous investment in Ghana is that it is a growing economy with both near- and long-term opportunities. The country is politically stable, and the government is driving the social agenda to bring inclusive and sustainable development to the wider population. These initiatives bode well for the insurance industry.”
That Ghana insurance industry has the firm backing of the world’s most revered insurance brand is a good omen for the development of its financial services sector.
Indeed, for Allianz Ghana CEO Darlington Munhuwani, the country represents a market full of untapped potential.
“The insurance penetration rate is below one percent,” he continues. “This is low compared to Kenya and South Africa and indicates to us that there are growth opportunities here. To unlock some of these opportunities we need to raise the importance and awareness levels of insurance benefits.
“Insurance is an intangible product and its benefits are realised at the point of pain or a loss. It is important that the promises we make to our clients are fulfilled following an incident or a loss of property or lives. The ideal partner for any client is one that seeks ways to settle a claim as quickly as possible rather than point out the small print to avoid or delay paying a claim.”
This, for Munhuwani, will come to define the Ghanaian insurance industry as it matures.
While currently the competition in the sector is based on cost of insurance, as time goes by and consumers become more accustomed to taking out policies, insurers will be judged on their ability to settle claims.
Building a legacy
It is this ability to settle claims which Munhuwani believes will see Allianz entrench itself into Ghana’s financial community.
The Company will celebrate 10 years in the country in 2019 and can draw on a history dating back to 1890 when the Group was founded in Munich. Since then it has grown into a global leader, employing more than 140,000 people across 70 countries. For Munhuwani, this sends the message to current and future clients that Allianz Ghana is serious about insurance.
“Insurance is about trust,” he adds. “Without trust, companies don’t last long. Allianz as a whole brings competency, resilience and empathy in all our dealings with clients.
“We are not a transactional risk carrier or insurer, we are a trusted partner and advisor on risk and insurance matters. In our view trust is the glue that keeps all partnerships true and strong. All things being equal, trust is the one word that makes us different.”
As well as drawing on trust that has developed from over a century of existence, new products and ways of doing business will help Allianz build on this in Ghana. The introduction of life insurance, for example, is in direct response to what Munhuwani and his team have been hearing on the ground from consumers. “Our decision to start a life insurance company was in response to our clients’ desire to have a ‘one stop’ insurance service provider,” he says. “Many have expressed satisfaction that they can now buy insurance for their house, car, and business and secure the future of their loved ones through one service provider.”
Further, such clients now need to be reached outside of bricks and mortar branches which once characterised insurance distribution. Munhuwani explains how digital technology is a key enabler to connecting with customers, embodied by a strategy with the strapline objective of being ‘digital by default’.
This again utilises the power of the worldwide Allianz, which has invested in a Group Digital Factory where experts from all subsidiaries and regions gather to work on digital customer journeys and create key assets that can be reused across subsidiaries. “By leveraging on our common core group platforms, these solutions will be reusable in a plug and play manner across the world,” says Munhuwani.
“For Allianz Ghana, our next phase of development will be to build capacity that empowers our clients to handle basic insurance transactions through the click of a button. We also want to enable most of the claims management administration to be handled via technology and remove the inefficacies of traditional processing systems. We are giving power to our clients.”
The firm is also empowering people in the communities it serves, be it through direct employment (98 percent of its staff are Ghanaians) and career development, or extending its support into wider society. One particular focus has been on helping children with disabilities. Financial support was channeled through O’Africa, a non-profit organization that provides shelter, care and protection to children who are abandoned, neglected, or abused or have some form of disability.
A new project, slated for 2019, involves both social and environmental stewardship. “Our country has a plastic disposal problem,” Munhuwani says. “At the moment there are just a few private companies who are into recycling, but the level of pollution is such that their efforts are minimal and hardly felt.”
Part of Allianz Ghana’s new project will see it provide bins for plastic waste at local beaches, which will then be transported to a partner company, which will recycle the material into blocks that will pave the Abelenkpe 2 Basic School in Accra. “Along with a charity called Mmofra Foundation, and the pupils, we will design and build an environmentally friendly creative centre using recycled and re-purposed materials,” adds Munhuwani.
A bright future
In terms of Allianz Ghana’s future as an entity, Munhuwani outlines goals in three major segments beyond the overarching objective to deliver growth.
The first focus is on staff, empowering them to drive their own personal development, while the second and third pillars concern providing convenience and value for clients and sustainable returns for shareholders.
Munhuwani concludes: “The future belongs to insurers that are continuously looking for the best deal for their clients, insurers that believe in partnerships, insurers that have both the financial and human capital to invest in new technologies and pay claims quickly. That is the simplicity of the insurance equation.
“I think that we made the right decision to come into the country and have made investments that will contribute to the growth of the insurance sector for a long time to come.”