[Interview] Adan Abbey, President, Horn of Africa Insurance, Somalia
In this interview with Africa Business Communities he explains the company’s strategy of setting up shop in a region that has traditionally had little to no insurance capacity despite high levels of insurable activity, growing internet penetration in the region and plans to expand to Pan Africa.
Tell us about Horn of Africa Insurance and your role in it
Horn of Africa Insurance is a General Insurance Company based in Hargeisa, Somaliland. We launched in 2018 and are one of the only insurance companies in Somaliland & Somalia. Our main product offerings include: Car Insurance, Property Insurance, Health Insurance, and Cargo Insurance. We also offer a number of specialized products based on our clients’ needs.
Who are your clients?
Our clients include large corporations, international NGOs, and ordinary citizens. We also engage quite a bit with investors looking to invest in Somaliland, as they often seek insurance to help mitigate their risks.
Insurance penetration in most African countries remain low. What are you doing to boost uptake?
We are spending a lot of time developing the market, and we’re doing this through advertising, knocking on doors, and sponsoring key events to help spread the message that insurance is an important tool to protect yourself, your family, and your business against financial losses.
In your area of operations, which markets have offered impressive uptake of insurance?
We’re seeing strong growth in Auto Insurance. People are beginning to realize that one of the greatest risks you face in this market is a car accident. They see the service that we provide to our existing customers in helping to make the claims process as quick and stress free as possible. Oftentimes we are at the scene with them, helping to process the paperwork, and quickly getting their damaged vehicle fixed an back on the road.
Another area we’re seeing uptick is in Cargo Insurance. Trading is big business here, with the vast majority of our goods being imported. If faced with a major loss, it can be catastrophic for businesses. We’ve seen examples of businesses who’ve lost hundreds of thousands of dollars and their goods were uninsured.
More and more people are starting to see that insurance can provide much needed peace of mind and is a tiny fraction of the investment that they are already making.
What do you consider your greatest selling points?
Our team. We have a very strong management team with over a decade of direct insurance experience at some of the world’s largest insurance companies, as well as even more years in the broader financial services industry.
We pride ourselves in being an international standard insurance company servicing the Somaliland/Somalia market. We believe that with our global experience and local market knowledge, we have a winning combination.
How has the market responded to your services?
The market has responded well and we’re seeing the business spread by word of mouth, which is good because this is traditionally an oral society. Typically you don’t always appreciate the value of having insurance, until the day you have a claim. And our customers have seen that first hand.
What is the biggest threat or challenge to your business?
The biggest challenge we face is the lack of insurance laws in the country. Currently there is no requirement to have insurance, including for vehicles. However we expect that to change in the near future, which will have a significantly positive effect not only on the industry, but for society at large.
Not having mandated vehicle insurance causes daily problems, as people get into accidents and do not always have the means to pay. Those issues take a lot of time and energy to resolve, and insurance can play a pivotal role in that regard.
How has customer preferences and trends in the Horn of Africa shaped your business?
The world is now beginning to see Somaliland as an oasis of peace and stability in a challenging region. Businesses are thriving, international investors are increasingly coming and taking this market seriously, and we’re also seeing more diaspora moving back to start their own businesses. All of this points to positive trends for our business.
What are the ambitions of the company going forward?
Our goal is to be a major Pan-African insurance player and number one in the Horn of Africa region.
What is your contribution to the insurance growth in the Horn of Africa?
We have established an insurance company in a region that has traditionally had little to no insurance capacity, despite high levels of insurable activity. Already we’re seeing investors breathing a sigh of relief knowing that even if they invest hundreds of millions of dollars, there is an insurance company that can help to make sure their investment is protected.
Based on our efforts we are seeing more people start to believe that insurance can work for them, and rely less on tribal affiliations, which have been and in many cases still is the current form of insurance for a large segment of society.
Any expansion plans in the pipeline?
We believe that there is tremendous opportunity and a long runway for growth within our existing market. So our short term focus is to be the best here first.
What is the latest news from Horn of Africa Insurance?
We continue to explore partnership opportunities with key industry players that would result in the continued growth of our business.
Africa Business Communities is conducting a series of interviews with startup businesses in Africa.
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