What's Happening?

Enhancing cover – Diverse partnerships essential for developing ‘fit for purpose’ insurance products



To succeed in today’s competitive insurance market insurers must meet client expectations of customer service, product performance and value for money. They must do this while overcoming multiple challenges, including growing revenue and shareholder value; addressing market fear and uncertainty; and accommodating technology-driven changes in consumer behaviour. Specialist bespoke risk manager, MUA Insurance Acceptances (MUA), believes that diverse partnerships are essential for developing insurance products that satisfy consumers, insurers and insurance brokers in a Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) world.

“We strive to deliver a bespoke insurance offering of the highest quality to our clients and an unparalleled level of service to our business partners,” said Dawie Loots, CEO at MUA. “Our latest product enhancements were developed in concert with our high net worth clients and our network of hand-picked brokers and further enhanced by the insights and perspective gained through strategic partnerships with a rich variety of organisations”. He was commenting on the side lines of a nationwide tour to inform MUA’s network of hand-picked brokers about additions and enhancements to the risk covers on the underwriter’s executive, personal and classic policies. The changes were introduced during April 2019 and will be implemented from 1 May 2019.

Michelle Ashen-Abrahams, Head of Marketing at MUA, observes that the enhancements were additionally informed by ‘big picture’ concepts such as mindfulness and individual wellbeing following the alignment of MUA’s growth strategy to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals: “We are building an insurance brand that is mindful, responsible and keenly focussed on ‘insuring the individual’ in a growing economy – all of which requires that we explore new partnerships in unexpected places”. Over the past year MUA has engaged with the African Leadership Institute, the Institute of Mindfulness, Mercedes Benz Club South Africa, the Presencing Institute’s Ubuntu Lab and Wealth Creed, among others, as it seeks to create a business that transcends ‘insurance product only’.

A comprehensive cyber risk section tops the list of product enhancements as MUA empowers both broker and client to buy suitable protection for a digital world. “Cyber risk has become a leading issue for our high net worth clients due to their increasing uptake of technology,” says Loots. “Our response has been to develop cover that offers our clients ‘peace of mind’ for each of the prominent cyber risks they face”. The latest statistics from the South African Bank Risk Information Centre show that South Africa has the third highest number of cyber-crime victims worldwide, with a total loss of around R2.2 billion per year, while the South African Fraud Prevention Services confirms a 200% increase in identity theft over the past six years.

Another worrying trend is the impact of technology on children who are increasingly falling victim to a phenomenon born out of growing access to and usage of the internet and social media, namely cyber bullying. An IPSOS Global Adviser Study found that at least one in three parents globally reported knowing a child in the community that had been cyber bullied – in South Africa the measure increases to one in two. (IPSOS describes cyber bullying as ‘when a child or group of children under the age of 18 intentionally intimidate, offend, threaten or embarrass another child or group of children, specifically using information technology’.

“Our cyber risk solutions are tailored to include cyber liability, cyber bullying and cyber theft cover to ensure that our clients enjoy peace of mind on their life’s journey, even when they face a mountain of unknowns” says Loots. The cyber bullying cover provides for the ‘removal and suppression of harmful content’ and will kick in following ‘invasion, infringement or interference with the rights of privacy or publicity, including false light, public disclosure of private facts, intrusion or cyber harassment arising out of user-generated content’.

A range of other product enhancements serve to accommodate high net worth clients’ changing lifestyle needs while making it easier for brokers to advise on risk solutions. Innovations introduced in MUA’s motor cover include flat excesses; three years ‘new for old’ motor vehicle cover; depreciation protection cover and credit shortfall cover. Enhancements were also made to the firm’s value-added services, most notably through changes to its ‘trauma treatment and assistance’ cover. This benefit now includes allowances for transport to and from a medical specialist or doctor’s appointment, subject to limits. “We developed this value-add after we received a phone call from a broker asking if MUA could assist a client with transport to chemotherapy,” says Ashen-Abrahams. “This is an example of how our mindful risk management approach in partnership with our brokers delivers value to our clients”.

MUA’s evolving approach to sustainable business is informed by extensive research. “Last year we embarked on field research to better understand our industry, our partnership with brokers, the needs of high net worth individuals and how we can positively contribute to South Africa’s socioeconomic growth,” says Loots. “We continue to do research so that we can better understand our clients in partnership with our brokers and better support broker businesses in acquiring new clients and retaining existing ones”. The firm has embarked on a continuous cycle of research-based learning that will be incrementally applied to both partnerships and product. “Today we are dealing with the new risks presented by 4IR, but tomorrow will bring new challenges – the best way to meet these evolving risks is through deep learning, practicing mindfulness, observing our thoughts and prioritising self-care,” he concludes.