American insurance firm ventures into Zim

HARARE - America insurance firm, Blue Marble Microinsurance (Blue Marble), is set to launch its first venture in Zimbabwe later this month.

The company —a consortium of eight companies established in 2015 with the aim of creating a market for micro insurance —said it will provide drought protection to smallholder maize farmers in the southern African country.

Blue Marble head of venture development and operations Bilal Mughal said the insurance giant will insure the credit the farmers use to purchase seeds, fertilisers, lime and other goods.

“This has a real impact, because these farmers cannot get credit without insurance. It is part of our mission to address food insecurity.  Blue Marble will be very innovative in this area, creating a two-way phone-based data exchange with the community of farmers to provide weather information, farming practices and other information,” he added.

This comes as Zimbabwe, which is now in a second recession in eight years, is struggling with a devastating drought that has left 5,5 million people in need of food aid while 20 000 HIV positive individuals are facing imminent deaths due to starvation, according to the United Nations.

While Blue Marble will initially pilot the venture in Zimbabwe to gain insights into how to make the insurance solution sustainable and impactful, they ultimately plan to scale the venture across Africa.

Blue Marble chief executive Joan Lamm-Tennant said she was happy that eight consortium companies have come together to launch this promising venture in Africa.

“By working together, we will bring insurance protection to the underserved in Zimbabwe, a region once known as the breadbasket of Africa but now constrained by food insecurity,” she said.

According to Blue Marble, the Zimbabwean venture has three key features including the design of a proprietary index to support the insurance product is a collaborative innovation of data scientists and agronomists from the eight consortium companies.

The second feature is the use of two-way mobile communication with customers to improve the overall proposition continuously.

Third, the use of innovative point-sensor technology to measure rainfall and plant health throughout the growing season will complement traditional grid remote-sensing data to create a higher-resolution parametric insurance cover.

“Blue Marble’s venture in Zimbabwe should reveal insights into streamlining processes and building customer-centric business models,” the company said.

Blue Marble Microinsurance is a consortium of American International Group, Aspen Insurance, Guy Carpenter & Company together with Marsh & McLennan Companies, Hamilton Insurance Group, Old Mutual plc, Transatlantic Reinsurance Company, XL Catlin and Zurich Insurance Group.

Hamilton’s Chairman and chief executive Brian Duperreault is Vice Chairman of Blue Marble.