First Mutual targets 10% Econet subcribers

FIRST Mutual Life Assurance Company Managing Director Ruth Ncube says her company hopes to underwrite 10% of Econet’s subscribers in its first month and become the biggest life assurance underwriter in Southern Africa after an agreement with Econet Wireless Ltd and Namibia’s Trust Co Mobile.

Under the deal,  Econet Wireless, Zimbabwe’s largest telecoms company, and insurance conglomerate First Mutual Life, will offer free life assurance cover to the over 4,5 million Econet subscribers.
The launch of the product –– EcoLife –– is part of Econet’s bid to provide cover to those unable to get a policy due to high costs.The product has been developed in partnership with Trustco Mobile, a division of JSE-listed Trust Co Group Holdings, a Namibian based financial services company.
Ncube said: “We are going to be the biggest underwriter in Sadc. From our 100 000 clients we expect a 10% take up in the first month and additional 10% on a monthly basis.”
Ncube sees her company attracting a million subscribers by December.
Asked if EcoLife was not a risky venture, Ncube says actuarial reports had proved otherwise. “We don’t see a problem going forward. It’s a model that Mozambique, Nambia and Uganda have. Risk is an aspect we looked at. We are expecting risk but we are on the guard. We are expecting a lot of fraud but we are strongly on guard,” she said.
This is not an entirely new venture as Econet’s other partner in EcoLife –– Trust Co Mobile –– is already in the same business.
Trust Co CEO Quinton Van Rooyen says his company has 250 000 life policies after partnering Namibia’s second largest mobile phone operator in a similar business. He attributed the number to Namibia’s smaller population.
Van Rooyen said “the uptake in Namibia has been very good.
“We partnered with the second largest mobile phone operator and have 250 000 clients. There is real risk but our target market is not the rich guy who can take out a life policy but the ordinary guy.”
EcoLife will be sold as a $3 monthly airtime package which will ensure a free life cover.
“This means that the more airtime one buys, the more cover they get, up to a maximum payout of $10 000,” according to Econet CEO Douglas Mboweni.
He said the scheme was not only free, but  simple to access for the user. “A person does not have to visit FML offices to subscribe to EcoLife. Everything can be done via SMS,” he said.
Econet and FML, an arm of Afre Corporation, are also collaborating to launch other products, including auto insurance and drought cover for small scale farmers.
Mboweni said the insurance product is one of many services Econet Wireless is developing to create convenience for its customers and help simplify life for Zimbabweans.
Management refused to divulge the details of the deal, saying the company was still in a closed period.

Chris Muronzi

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