Joining forces to close the protection gap - 2019 annual Member Meeting

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Some than 50 members from all across the globe gathered in Luxembourg for the tenth edition of the JMM - held last week.

The MiN’s role in a fast-changing environment

As MiN Board Chair Doubell Chamberlain pointed out in his opening remarks, closing the gap is no easy task. “There is complexity all around us,” he noted. “There are many variables that are not in our control. The old approaches don’t work, and we have to be prepared to experiment, adapt, probe and collaborate.”

Collaboration was a key theme. Welcoming members, Thomas Lammar of the Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs noted that the MiN is the only global multi-stakeholder platform which focuses on insurance for low-income, developing markets. “The economic and humanitarian risks associated with climate change are increasing,” said Lammar. “Long-term resilience is more important than ever. Inclusive insurance is essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Executive Director Katharine Pulvermacher noted that although the Network has turned a corner and is now on a much more sustainable financial footing, the MiN’s value proposition to its donors, supporters and beneficiaries needs to be more cohesive and coherent. One way to achieve this was through increasing regionalisation, having a physical presence in developing markets where it is most relevant.

Member insights and initiatives

Throughout the three days, members showcased innovative insurance projects and products which are already making an impact. Jan Martin Hunderi of DataDrivenFinance in Norway explained how low-cost insurance workflows in low-income countries drives collective-based insurance (CBI) in Kenya. “This is where InsurTech meets social capital,” he enthused. “It’s like the Uber or Airbnb of insurance.”

Michiel Berende presented Etherisc, a blockchain-based weather index insurance model. “Blockchain won’t solve everything,” he admitted. “But it creates transparency and speeds up data collection. The real value of blockchain is that it creates a single source of truth.”

Climate Risk Insurance (CRI) took an unexpected hit in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan some years ago, explained Antonis Malagardis of GIZ Philippines and MEFIN. The Philippines is the third most vulnerable country in the world to climate risks, but after Haiyan, premiums doubled, coverage went down and most products no longer exist, leaving the poorest at risk from future extreme weather events.

Meanwhile Gregory Scully, an independent consultant from the US, offered insights from a self-confessed ‘poacher turned gamekeeper’ - after years in regulation he went to work for a large health insurer. “It’s hard to get regulators to think like entrepreneurs,” he said. “Companies always have the advantage over their customers.”

Kenya was also in the spotlight when Anne Kamau of AB Consultants presented an unusual pilot programme: insurance cover against human wildlife conflict (HWC). The government and private sector worked together on a product to compensate for property damage, death, injury and crop raids. “No one had ever thought to use insurance to mitigate against HWC,” explained Anne. “Before this, people were resorting to killing wildlife, which in turn was killing the tourism industry.”

Bénédicte Godefroid of ADA pointed out the need for microfinance institutions (MFIs) to diversify their products in order to serve their clients better. ADA helps MFIs to tailor existing products or create new ones, and is working hard to persuade them that they should include microinsurance as part of their offer.

Design thinking

How to build the tallest structure using dried spaghetti, string, sticky tape and…a marshmallow? Anke Green of A2ii kicked off day two with the famous marshmallow challenge, aimed at getting members working together to solve a common problem. Design thinking, she explained, is about putting people at the centre - always trying to understand the users, developing empathy and understanding their needs and behaviours. Design thinking can be applied to inclusive insurance products - putting the clients at the centre of design and testing, including them in the process and learning from them. Anke’s message: “Don’t just think outside the box - throw the box away!”

Building on the theme of collaboration, MiN Board member Kate McKee moderated a lively discussion featuring panellists from organisations built on partnerships: the Insurance Development Forum, InsuResilience, A2ii and the ILO’s Impact Insurance Facility. How can all these organisations work together to achieve a common vision? Kate’s takeaway: “It’s a confusing space, there’s a lot going on, we need better coordination.”

Deep dives into regions and issues

An entire afternoon was devoted to a Deep dive into insurance market ecosystems: Africa, Asia and Latin America, during which members got under the skin of what’s happening - or not - in inclusive insurance markets in those regions. Mia Thom of Cenfri and Craig Thorburn of the World Bank talked through developments in Africa, while Pedro Pinheiro of CNseg and Josh Ling from the World Food Programme explained trends in Latin America. Antonis Malagardis of MEFIN partnered with Farzanah Chowdhury of Green Delta in Bangladesh to explain the complex challenges of the Asian market.

Also under the microscope in a series of break-out groups were health, gender, MSMEs, climate change and food security, and the Landscape of Microinsurance. Insights from these discussions will be used to shape future strategic priorities in the form of best practice groups for the MiN.

Conclusions

Wrapping up the meeting, the MiN Board answered questions ranging from connecting with the ‘outside world’ beyond the insurance sector to whether a new strategic direction was needed. As Doubell Chamberlain remarked, “It’s important to have plans, but more important to learn and adapt to what is happening around us.”

Thanks to generous sponsorship by AM Best, members enjoyed an informal networking lunch with members of the Association of Insurance and Reinsurance Companies of Luxembourg (ACA).

And finally, if you’ve ever dreamed of building a portfolio of luxury hotels on a tropical island, then the JMM is the place to be. But beware, Hotel Resilience - a kind of Risk meets Monopoly - needs a clear head and steady nerves.

A full report on the JMM will be available to members only shortly