Saham Insurance to Belong to Top 10 Insurance Companies in Ghana by 2020

There are about 27 non-life insurance players in Ghana’s insurance industry. “There are more companies coming onboard every day. There will be three more licensed in the next few months. The competition is very keen and very fierce.”

Interview with Frederick Adotey Saka, Acting MD and COO of Saham Insurance Ghana

Frederick Adotey Saka, Acting MD and COO of Saham Insurance Ghana

The competition in the insurance sector is very fierce. How do you perceive the development of the market?

Now, we have about 27 non-life insurance players in the industry. There are more companies coming onboard every day. There will be three more licensed in the next few months. The competition is very keen and very fierce. We need to devise ways to stay afloat and ahead of the competition.

In 2015, Saham was focusing on the corporate sector and moving slowly into retail. What is the situation for Saham in 2017? What is your current strategy for this industry?

Since 2015, we have grown steadily. The focus was to grow our corporate niche and also to improve the retail base. At Saham, we have worked to increase the possibility of getting more retail business by recruiting more sales agents who are on the ground bringing in retail accounts. We are increasing our sales agency force and we are now employing about 50 sales agents. On the corporate side, the Ghanan market is mainly broker-driven. About 65 to 70 percent is a brokers’ market. We are also strengthening our relationships with our brokers and we are drawing up new strategies for them in terms of benefits and what we can do together. We are moving beyond the normal relationship to a more lasting one where we try to be in their good books on a daily basis. We are looking at situations where they can be writing some business on our behalf and paying claims on our behalf for a fee to ensure that they do not forget about us when there is something on their table. And it has worked perfectly. We are already above our target for the year. We are hoping to achieve ten percent more than we planned to for 2017. Our strategies are paying off.

What is your market share currently?

It is at 1.6.

We did not want to be known for the lowest price. We wanted to be known for innovation.

Will you be launching any specific new products in the coming months? Is there something that will differentiate you from the competition?

We launched five new products early this year, around February. We did not want to be known for the lowest price. We wanted to be known for innovation. We basically looked at the policies that existed in the market and we tried to add some more benefits, which has working quite well. Across the market, the policies the insurance companies are selling are all virtually the same at nearly the same price. We thought about what added benefits we could give to the clients to make us more attractive to them. We took one policy and added another policy to make it a more comprehensive package for them to buy. It is catching on. In the coming months, we want to monitor how this method performs. We will measure the response, and then we can introduce new products next year. What is on the table immediately for next year or probably by the end of this year is travel insurance. We have fine-tuned the arrangements for the reinsurance and we are now talking to the regulator. Once it is approved next year, we will be able to offer this travel insurance policy.

You mentioned that one of your challenges in Ghana is that people view you as an international company. How are you trying to overcome this? How are you spreading the image of Saham, and the fact that you have behind you the strength of the company itself?

Our clients see that we are international, but they want to give business to local companies. We try to spin that perception into a positive situation. If you are international, that means you are more financially stable and are capable of doing business across the globe. Now, we are using our financial strength in our reinsurance links to show that we are international, we have been around for many years, and that we have stability across the market, not just in Ghana, but throughout Africa. We are turning that into positive selling points. When people understand that insurance is about how well you can pay claims, and that you can pay claims efficiently because you are more financially sound, they begin to warm up to this idea. That perception is being used to our advantage, currently. It was a very difficult situation initially, because you need to try and convince potential clients that the company is actually here to stay. The company changing names from Beacon to Colina to Saham also caused some concern. We tell them it is because the company is changing shareholders, it doesn’t mean the company is bad. We are changing shareholders for the better. We try to give them that kind of comfort and raise awareness. Initially, we were not so visible. But now we have a lot of promotions, adverts, newspaper ads, and we are using very simple promotional methods such as simple tag lines on our emails. We are going to extend the exercise to the end of the year and beyond.

What are your CSR activities?

We are doing quite a lot. We have a few sponsorships in industry and corporate associations. We participate quite actively to drum up our name more. The feedback we are getting is that our name is now getting out there. Initially, we were known within the industry alone, but now if you mention Saham, people out there are getting to know the company better. We believe it takes a bit of time, and of course, comes with very big budgets. So, you need to be very strategic in how you do promotional campaigns, but it is going well so far.

Can you describe your company strengths? Where is your competitive advantage and where do you stand out?

We stand out mainly on the corporate side where we are bigger. We have a lot of referrals from the Group. Typically, wherever Saham insures a company in Africa, we are able to get referrals. We are also able to insure similar businesses in Ghana. We obtain many of our referrals from the brokers because most of them are also international. We have international partners across the globe. When they want companies who are well-grounded and who they can do business with, the referrals come to the brokers and they send them to us. International brokers like Ascoma International are doing a lot with us now. Our relationship is growing, and broker business is becoming better and better.

Do you have any success stories from your corporate side?

For example, we are now insuring MTN because of our global touch. ShopRite is also a global entity and we are involved with them, as well. Ghana Explosives will be coming onboard next year. On the broker and the corporate side, there are new, big accounts coming up. Because of our recent partnership with Sanlam, we are sure that we are going to be right in the accounts of all the South African businesses in Ghana. With MTN, most of their dealership is in South Africa.

Do you have any other challenges?

Generally, insurance awareness and insurance penetration in Ghana is below two percent. People have insurable needs, but they still do not insure because they do not understand what they need to do. They are not aware of the existence of policies that can take care of your needs in the event of losses arising. We need to do more work in driving home the need for insurance. It cannot be done by one company. We are pushing the agenda of creating insurance awareness. We have an annual event we hold just to show people that there is a need for insurance and what they need to do.

What is your vision for Saham Ghana? Where would you like to be in two to three years’ time?

We are pushing hard to be in the top ten companies in the next three years. We need to push this agenda, but it cannot be drastic. We are hoping that gradually, by 2018 or 2019, 2020 at the latest, that we will be in the top ten, possibly the top five. We are pushing this through quality service mainly, not through price.


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