There’s a new underwriting market agency in town and they’re teaming up with Constantia.
Christelle Colman is well known to many as an insurance entrepreneur who has a proven track record in building sustainable specialist insurance businesses. Christelle founded Thatch Risk Acceptances in 1998, reinvented MUA as a fully-fledged personal lines underwriter from a previously specialist motor underwriter in 2005 and founded Elite Risk Acceptances in 2019. Her latest venture is as CEO of Ami Sure, a new UMA underwritten by Constantia Insurance. We put a few questions to her about the new company.
What is the thinking behind starting a new UMA in the current insurance environment?
We are emerging from the severe economic lockdowns of the Covid pandemic. The romantic in me can’t help referencing the Roaring 20s of the previous century, which saw an incredible upswing in economic growth as the world emerged from the 1918 Great Flu, as well as the First World War. Coupled with that I believe I am in step with the global trend coined by the famed psychologist Anthony Klotz – The “Great Resignation” – a tipping point of a nearly decade- long trend of employment dissatisfaction. For me the time is now and I believe the South African insurance broker market is ready for some serious innovation.
Ami is intent on turning insurance on its head in South Africa. It's a 21st century company with a 21st century vision: to remain at the cutting edge of technology while staying committed and connected to a people-first mindset. Long gone are the reams and reams of forms, wordy and unintelligible policy documents, brusque and impersonal call centre operators, and the rigmarole around claims. Ami sees itself as a friend who is willing to go to the ends of the earth to ensure seamless dealings across the board.
The single biggest challenge faced by the insurance regulator, insurance companies and policyholders is the concept of mistrust. The aim of Ami is to establish a new insurance provider that will focus its entire existence on the premise of absolute good faith and trust – both from an insurer and policyholder perspective. This will be achieved by creating simple but comprehensive insurance policies that are easily understood by clients, while employing best of breed digital communications and claims settlement processes.
The company is backed by Constantia Insurance, and policies are issued via a professional broker.
Why did you choose the name Ami?
The word “ami” has several meanings around the world. The most well-known meanings are friend in French, my nation in Hebrew and much loved in an Indian dialect. And that’s the essence of the brand – a trusted friend in time of need.
What products will you be offering?
Ami will cover the full spectrum of personal lines insurance with two products to launch in August 2022 focused on traditional and high net worth personal insurance.
The initial insurance products will encompass easy-to-understand policy wordings, offering comprehensive cover supported by a simplified excess structure. This core offering will be amplified by way of a wide array of value-added products and services, giving clients access to a variety of covers at an additional premium.
How will Ami operate?
Ami will operate as an underwriting manager for Constantia Insurance Company with a virtually enabled business model covering the entire country. It will embrace the full might of digital innovation and tools to process claims and aim to finalise claims in record time.
A great deal of focus will be placed on disrupting the way in which communication takes place between underwriters, brokers and clients. Poor stakeholder communication has been repeatedly flagged as a major pain point in broker distribution channels in the SA insurance market. It causes immense frustration to our distribution partners and has resulted in many breakdowns of partnership between brokers and insurers. We see this as an opportunity. It is the vision of Ami to become a trusted insurance partner where every broker, client and other stakeholder in the value chain is treated as an individual, no matter how big Ami gets. Ami aims to make insurance people-friendly across the entire value chain, while remaining comprehensive enough to ensure clients aren't left short at claim time. This is comprehensive insurance done simply, but thoroughly.
Who is your target audience?
The brand is fresh and upwardly mobile, appealing to the tech-savvy and the less digitally oriented alike. Ami will focus on the aspirational millennial and wealth demographics of consumers.
Who are the role-players?
The key role players and shareholders in Ami are myself and Carel Nolte. Together we have in excess of 50 years of insurance industry knowledge with a passion for all things insurance. We share a resolute outlook on the importance of strategic and cultural alignment with our partners. As Carel has said many times, Ami will only do business with nice people. In the Ami world this means our risk carrier, business partners, various industry stakeholders, brokers and clients. We both believe that the broker market in the SA insurance industry has been neglected when it comes to product and service innovation. As Ami’s founders, we look forward to building lasting relationships with brokers and policyholders based on the principles of trust, choice, clarity and compassion. After all, that’s what friendship is all about.
Why did you choose Constantia as your underwriting partner?
A UMA’s success is integrally linked to the strategic positioning of its shareholder and risk carrier. Ami engaged with most of the potential carriers in the market. The true north throughout the journey was finding the right strategic and cultural fit for the business. Ami believes we have found this in Constantia Insurance under the skilful leadership of Peter Todd and his team. Constantia’s core approach is building success through its partners and its people. With a refreshed positioning launched during 2020 Constantia has worked hard to crystallise its partner-centric focus. The team has a proven track record and years of experience to guide them. They are driven by a powerful purpose: to enable their partners’ success. For Ami, this means complete strategic fit and cultural alignment.