Bima raises $97M from Allianz for microinsurance aimed at emerging markets


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On the heels of Lemonade elevating $120 million from Softbank for its new “peer-to-peer” spin on insurance coverage providers, one other firm geared toward disrupting the insurance coverage market is saying a significant spherical of its personal. Bima, a European startup that builds and sells “microinsurance” providers for low-income customers in Africa, Asia and Latin America, has raised $96.6 million in a strategic funding from Allianz X, the digital funding unit of the insurance coverage large.

The brand new funding can be used to broaden Bima’s present merchandise — primarily life, accident and medical insurance, in addition to a teledoctor service — throughout the 14 markets the place it already operates, in addition to transfer into new nations. At the moment, Bima’s greatest markets at present are Ghana, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and it has 24 million clients in complete globally.

The funding — $30 million of which is in fairness, and the rest as secondary transaction to purchase out shares primarily from LeapFrog, one other investor — was made at a pre-money valuation of round $260 million and provides Bima a post-money valuation of round $300 million, deputy CEO Mathilda Strom mentioned in an interview. Bima, which has headquarters in London and Stockholm, has raised over $150 million in funding up to now, in line with CrunchBase.

Much like monetary providers, the insurance coverage business has been eyeing up creating markets as its subsequent huge development space at a time when extra developed economies are oversaturated competitors and present providers.

On one hand, it’s a big alternative: Swiss Re estimates that the microinsurance market is at present price some $40 billion globally, primarily within the areas of life and medical insurance, doubtlessly masking round four billion individuals.

On the opposite, it’s an important geographic and financial space to deal with.

Folks in rising markets are sometimes described as being on the incorrect facet of the “digital divide”, missing fundamental entry to working capital to construct companies and take up different alternatives.

Insurance coverage providers deal with that very same drawback from a special route. Folks typically can not afford to entry well being providers, and when one thing tragic does occur like a dying in a household, one drawback for these households is a scarcity of financial savings or another form of monetary cushion. Insurance coverage primarily supplies some safety for individuals to have the ability to repair these issues within the occasion that main setbacks like these come up.

All the identical, one huge problem, Strom mentioned, has been in educating individuals concerning the want for insurance coverage within the first place. “Seventy-five % of our subscribers have by no means had insurance coverage earlier than,” she mentioned. “We have to educate individuals about what it’s, and likewise why you want it.”

The primary thought behind microinsurance is to offer insurance coverage that’s right-sized for the financial system the place it’s being offered. Bima says that 93% of its present buyer base lives on lower than $10 per day, and so the individuals it targets are supplied smaller premiums and smaller protection plans, typically as little as two cents per day.

The hope/expectation is that as these customers’ fortunes enhance — as they typically do in fast-growing, rising markets — these microinsurance plans will broaden with them.

“In some circumstances we’ve even moved away from calling it ‘microinsurance’,” Strom mentioned. “It’s primarily insurance coverage for individuals who haven’t had it earlier than.”

Additionally much like monetary providers, a lot of the commerce of enterprise in microinsurance is completed over cell phones, with Bima letting individuals pay for insurance policies in small increments utilizing their cell phones. “Within the absence of a checking account, clients can use pay as you go airtime to pay for his or her Bima insurance policies,” mentioned Strom.

“Our funding in BIMA underscores Allianz’s dedication to digitalization, supporting the expansion technique of the Group in rising economies, in addition to enabling us to serve the so-called ‘subsequent billion clients’,” mentioned Oliver Bäte, CEO of Allianz SE, in a press release.

Featured Picture: Godong / robertharding/Getty Photographs

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