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Insurance startup turns to mobile technology and social media to extend services

Adrian M. Reodique | June 5, 2017
At the recent CIO Conference in Manila, Lindsey Lim of BIMA explains how her company uses mobile technology and social media to make it easier for people to acquire insurance coverage.

Lindsey Lim of BIMA
Lindsey Lim, country manager of BIMA in the Philippines

BIMA, a Swedish microinsurance startup, is trying to make it easier for people to acquire insurance coverage using mobile technology and social media.  

The company has developed a platform that digitalises their processes to apply for insurance coverage and claim benefits.

"We have paperless registration that can be completed in less than one minute, we provide SMS confirmation to the customer's mobile phone, and we have over 20 million micro-payments each day [deducted] from the person's mobile money account or prepaid or postpaid account. We [also use] an electronic tracking system for claims," said Lindsey Lim, country manager of BIMA in the Philippines, at the CIO Conference in Manila on 25 May 2017.

In essence, the company leverage both physical agents and digital tools to provide insurance services, across 16 countries worldwide.

In Ghana, BIMA works with churches in Accra to conduct insurance education session after fellowship meetings. This is conducted by their physical agents.

In Fiji, on the other hand, the startup uses chatbots to respond to customer inquiries on their Facebook page. Customers can also schedule a call back or request a live chat with a BIMA agent through Facebook.

In the Philippines, BIMA will soon allow people to register for insurance coverage just by texting 'BIMA 70' and sending it to '2462', which is their access code. Payments will then be automatically deducted from their prepaid loads.

Lim said using mobile technology allows them to make it easier for their customers to pay their insurance coverages. "[We] provide micro-insurance for premiums of US$1-3 a day. One of the barriers of [having] insurance is the upfront cost. With our mobile technology, we're able to break down that monthly cost into installments of about 10 cents prepaid deductions every day."

However, cost deductions fail when the customer does not have enough load balance in their mobile account. In Senegal, BIMA implemented smart billing to automatically deduct the customer's payment once they reload their mobile account.

"What happens is that when we try to make a deduction, it's possible that the customer doesn't have any load or balance in their account. This results in failed deductions and then the customer loses his/her insurance coverage. What we have done is implement smart billing so we are now able to detect when the person has recharged their mobile phone. We will deduct from their prepaid load once we know that they have topped up their mobile phone," Lim explained.

BIMA also uses Facebook to collect digital documents from their customers when they apply for insurance claims.


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