How to turn yourself into a Microinsurance Master: learning from the best

Thursday, March 19, 2020

“You need to learn to unlearn the traditional way of doing business,” says Bert Opdebeeck, Founder of Microinsurance Master. “Look at things with fresh eyes. There is no truth inside the office. You need to get outside.”

Valuable advice for the 17 participants in the latest Microinsurance Master accelerator programme that started earlier this month in Johannesburg and was hosted by Network member Hollard. The diverse group - which between them had 140 years’ experience in insurance - came from 14 countries and included insurance regulators, insurers, intermediaries, a foundation and an InsurTech startup.


This is no ordinary training workshop. Those enrolling on the Microinsurance Master accelerator, of which the MiN is a supporting organisation, can expect an intense two-week immersion experience followed by eight weeks of tailored coaching from some of the best in the business. Held in the Hollard offices to give participants real-world exposure to real-world challenges, the immersion covered working with Hollard staff, visiting distribution partners and clients, and gaining a deep understanding of how microinsurance champions like Hollard, Pioneer and MicroEnsure have attracted millions of low-income clients. Purpose-driven leadership and client centricity are emphasised at every step.

“This was the first time we have hosted the programme in Africa,” says Opdebeeck. “Hollard did an outstanding job in demonstrating how Microinsurance Master’s key insights make a huge difference when it comes to microinsurance.”

“Getting outside the office into the real world, meeting real clients and putting yourself in their shoes is key. We start from the customer and from there we work back to a holistic risk alleviation solution, not the other way around. Microinsurance Masters build on true partnerships, whereby the insurer solves an underlying business problem for the distribution partner. We met clients who were going through went through a life claims experience and we helped a family with funeral preparations. We went to Kliptown, an informal township in Soweto, to meet a family there and learn about their insurance needs and challenges. At the end of it all, participants went to the market to pitch their microinsurance solution.”

Above all, the Microinsurance Master accelerator demonstrates that conventional insurance solutions are often inappropriate for low-income, vulnerable people. “Microinsurance requires a different approach than traditional insurance - you’ve got to throw the box away,” says Opdebeeck. “Your clients need an assistance that help them in times of need. Let go of indemnity insurance and build solutions from a deep client understanding by applying human-centred design. You’ve got to build in high claims frequency and a fast claims experience.”

The two-week immersion is just the first part of the overall accelerator programme. After their South African experience, participants receive tailored, one-to-one coaching from some of the top names in inclusive insurance including Richard Leftley, CEO of MicroEnsure; Michael J. McCord, President of the MicroInsurance Centre at Milliman; Afua Donkor, Founder of AssureAdvisors and former CEO of Star Microinsurance, Ghana; and Geric Laude, CEO of Card Pioneer in the Philippines. Experts are carefully assigned to best suit the needs of different organisations. “The coaching sessions by industry leaders support Microinsurance Masters to implement their key takeaways in building more and better risk alleviation solutions for the low income communities they serve,” says Opdebeeck. “And it doesn’t stop there. After successfully completing the programme, they will be part of an alumni network of champions who continue to share and learn.”

Microinsurance Master now counts 54 changemakers at 40 organisations in 37 countries. The next edition of the Microinsurance Master accelerator programme is scheduled for March 2021.