Nigeria: AXA Mansard to roll out health clinics to drive insurance penetration

By David Whitehouse
Posted on Wednesday, 7 December 2022 06:00

Can clinics help to increase Nigerian insurance penetration? REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

AXA Mansard is planning to open its own health clinics in Nigeria in a bid to encourage take-up of insurance, Tope Adeniyi, CEO of the company’s health business, tells The Africa Report.

The plan is to open the first clinic at the end of this year or early in 2023, to be followed by two more clinics in 2023 and four more in 2024, Adeniyi says at the African Financial Industry Summit in Togo. The initial clinics will be in Lagos, Abuja and Port Hartcourt.

Insurance penetration in Nigeria lags most other African markets. According to the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey, only 3% of people aged between 15 and 49 years had any form of health insurance in 2018. The Swiss Re Foundation says that more than 50% of Nigerian families are at risk of impoverishment if they suffer a “catastrophic” health event.

According to the Swiss Re, the cost of health insurance coverage at more than $5 per month is high given the monthly minimum wage of about $66. Prospects for selling more cover are currently hampered by a cost of living crisis which has seen food and energy prices spiral. Inflation makes the task more challenging, but the need is to “show, educate and create awareness” of insurance, Adeniyi says. “Insurance is sold, not bought.”

The clinics will offer primary and secondary care from private doctors who are AXA Mansard employees, Adeniyi says. Specialty services will be available in areas such as cardiology, paediatrics, maternity, dental and optical. AXA already has such clinics in Egypt, and the same model is being used for Nigeria with some adaptions, Adeniyi says.

Adeniyi sees mandatory health insurance in Nigeria, which became law in May, as a long-term driver of wider penetration. But insurers can’t afford to wait for the law to be applied.

  • Only three states have implemented the law so far, he says and it could take between four and six years before nationwide implementation takes place.

Start small

AXA Mansard, which is part of French Insurer AXA, trades on the Nigerian stock exchange. The health business saw gross revenue increase by 19% in the three months to the end of September, the same rate of growth achieved by the overall company. The health business, the company said, is set for a full-year 2022 profit.

Among the company’s partners is WellaHealth, a health technology start-up which launched in Nigeria in 2020. The company’s first product was a malaria-only micro-insurance policy, and the product range has been extended to include access to telemedicine consultations. Fees are as low as $1 per month.

  • Adeniyi wants more focus on micro-insurance. In the first quarter of 2023, he plans to launch a basic health product giving accidental and emergency protection, and maternity cover.

AXA Mansard in 2021 partnered with Airtel Nigeria in in health insurance distribution. The company plans to accelerate the adoption of digital distribution channels in 2023, and also allow customers to pay in instalments to try to increase penetration.

  • Using digital channels, Adeniyi says, cuts administration costs and can reduce premium costs by 20% or 30%.  New partnerships, he adds, will be announced next year.

Bottom line

The way forward for insurance in Nigeria may be to start with what customers can afford rather than with standard policies which are being sold elsewhere.

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