What is your overview of the sector in general? Where do you stand in terms of competition and foreign investors? Are you in a situation where there are plenty of players?
The insurance sector is doing well. It is constantly evolving here on the continent. Ivory Coast has always been the market leader in terms of turnover in the CIMA region as well as in Western and Central Africa. For a long time, this market has been dominated by subsidiaries of European insurance companies, mostly French companies.
Thus in terms of progress, l’Union Africaine, a subsidiary of UAP (Union des Assurances de Paris), has been the market leader. This company consequently became AXA Cote d’Ivoire after UAP was bought out by AXA. Another company that was present was AGF (Assurances Générales de France) via their subsidiary AGCI (Assurances Générales de Cote d´Ivoire).
Little by little the large groups have left. Some subsidiaries have stayed or have been bought out by African companies, whilst others have merged. Colina, after the recovery of Groupama, has become one of the largest companies in terms of structure. Recently they have been bought out by Saham.
As a result, the African companies came about. Initially they were created by the State as national insurance companies. Only in Ivory Coast were there private companies at the same time as national companies. Gradually the other countries have followed in this way.
When we talk about insurance in Africa, Ivory Coast is the country that has seen a lot of development over these last decades, above all in life insurance. Whilst notable advancements have been recorded, we must recognise that there still remains a lot to develop here.
Which are the main areas that need development? What are the main shortcomings?
The main shortcomings are principally in terms of education in insurance culture. This will really create an impetus for the sector; once our population understands the importance of insurance and incorporates it into their consumer habits.
In France, in order to get a loan we are legally obliged to have insurance, otherwise we cannot get a loan.
Here it is the same; in order to get a bank loan you are required to have a life insurance policy in order to guarantee the loan repayment in case the borrower dies. In fact, we can note that our best clients are those that have already had to claim on their insurance and have benefited from the remunerations given by the insurers.
Nevertheless a recent survey undertaken by the Insurance Board has shown that a large proportion of the automobiles in circulation in our country are not insured, in complete disregard to the risks incurred. Whilst in Europe one would never think to have a car that is not insured, in our market, this is not the case yet. Thus it is insurance education that we have to instil.
This will occur through the adaptation of insurance products to the cultural and social realities of the population and through assistance to policy holders in order to make the products more useful to them in their daily lives. In actual fact, people notice the assistance given to them more than the actual product itself. Thus here at La Loyale Insurance, we have with this objective in mind, placed a home insurance product on the market called Kobanan, which means “no problem” in a language from the north of our country. Kobanan is designed with support, to insure the home, its contents and its residents. The integrated support allows the policy holder to deal with domestic repairs with just a simple telephone call, which we follow up by sending out a professional.