Where micro insurance & the gig economy meet – Richard Leftley, MIC Global
This week’s guest on The Voice of Insurance podcast is Richard Leftley, micro insurance pioneer and Executive Vice President of MIC Global, which provides embedded insurance for sharing, gig, and platform companies. In this episode, Richard chats about the company’s mission, the growth, and potential of the micro insurance market, automating processes, digitisation in the market place, and what it means for the company´s growth to have approval in principle for a syndicate in a box at Lloyd’s.
Kicking off the discussion, Mark asks about the organisation’s mission; Richard responds, “About 1% of the population in 2002 of emerging markets purchased insurance, and if you think about the risk they face every single day, in literally every aspect of their life, it just didn’t seem sensible that they shouldn’t buy these products.” Adding to this point, Richard says that it was a combination of believing there was a huge market opportunity to sell insurance to those who weren´t served and give that safety net to villages and communities.
Further into the podcast, Richard expands on this and says, “Our mission is to bring valuable insurance products to the unserved, to people that don’t have insurance, it´s not about kind of pretending they don’t have insurance and then not paying their claims, that’s not what we’re about, so when we see that happening, we’re very much against that.”
Should we think of MIC Global as a micro insurer or in a wider sense asks Mark – Richard responds, “A couple of years ago we learnt that actually, micro insurance wasn’t just about Africa, it was actually the micro-component of it also meant short distance or short duration in the US, or in the EU or the UK, and in fact, the same skills that we’d learnt out there in Africa 20 years ago were actually the same skills we that now needed in order to serve these gig workers, these SMEs and these people that are associated with these platform businesses.”
Expanding on this point on the company’s journey from starting off as an insurtech to becoming an insurer, Richard says that MIC Global began as an insurtech and the reason for that was that it was the quickest and more affordable way to get into the market and find out if they can overcome some of the challenges, “Providing insurance to low-income people in Africa is challenging, providing insurance digitally to gig workers in New York is challenging. We wanted to work out whether we could do that as an insurtech, that’s why we started off in that way, and when we got out to tens of millions of customers through the various kinds of businesses…. we realised that we needed to become an insurance company, we needed to transition, make that transition from being the insurtech to being an insurance company and we did that a couple of years ago.”
As for entering Lloyd’s, Richard comments, “We’re going in with our eyes wide open, but we´re going in because we believe that we can actually not only match the best we can exceed it, we think that micro insurance is actually possibly going to be one of the better lines of business in Lloyd’s in the future, of that I’m sure… It’s new business, it’s accretive and it’s very much tech-driven, so it fits totally in what Lloyd’s wants to do.”
With its insurtech heritage, Mark asks for Richard’s view on whether the industry will at some point go entirely digital, Richard replies, “There are always gaps; you do always need people, you can’t go entirely digital, probably my CEO might disagree with me because I think he’s very much of the mindset that wherever possible we should be as digital as possible, and I think that’s the direction of travel that we’re all headed in, but we’ve just been ahead of the curve on it really, I think that’s critical for us.”
How far is tech going to go in automating everything asks Mark, Richard responds, “I think tech is great, but one of the things that’s true about our customer base is now that it’s very diverse – it’s from the technically enabled, you know gig workers in New York, to ladies in rural Africa who still have a grey screen phone, and we, therefore, have to fit what we’re doing into that entire ecosystem.”