‘New kid on the block’ for SA’s insurance market

Image: Wikimedia

By: Thandisizwe Mgudlwa – AfricanBrains

The life insurance market in South Africa entered a new era this week as a player has arrived on the financial scene.

BrightRock (Pty) Ltd is to compete with the ‘big guns’ in the individual life market.

Formed in 2011, this company has managed in a short space of time to develop a unique product structure and systems technology to enable what the organisation describes as a “need-matched” approached to life insurance, with the aim of closing gaps and proving clients with more relevant, efficient cover.

With its policies set to go live on April 1 this year, BR’s non-executive chairman Miles Japhet has already outlined strong financial backing from the Lombard Insurance Group (LIG) for the start-up venture and a tailored, highly differentiated life insurance product offering not seen in the market place before.

An insurance industry stalwart Japhet says BR policies are constructed around the individual’s needs, which change over time.

“Customers are able to shape and alter their cover according to their needs. As they change, so does the policy.”

He continued: “Whereas most insurance policies focus on the events they are designed to cover, BrightRock policies place the emphasis on ensuring that when an insurable event occurs, the cover meets the need.

Althought Japhet is praising the SA life industry as being one of the world’s most innovative and advanced, he says the norm so far has been for life insurers to offer modular, pre-packaged products, elements of which customers pick and choose.

“BrightRock covers the same insurance events as other policies, but maps this cover back to clients’ underlying financial needs. Customers are able at the outset to make a wide range of choices about how their cover should grow and change, to stay relevant and in tune with their needs. Even when those have been made, it is easier for clients of BrightRock to make changes to their cover should their circumstances change.

The start-up’s primary reinsurance treaty is with one of the world’s largest reinsureres, which has an AA- rating from international ratings agency Standard and Poor’s.

BR is to distribute its products nationally through independent financial advisers. Currently the company has national distribution footprint with reginal hubs in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Another plus for BR is not only because of the backing from LIG which has more than 20 years of experience. But also the fact that LIG operates in the short-term, credit risk and long-term insurance industry, currently holding over R1, 3 billion in assets on its balance sheet. While BR is operating under LIG’s existing life licence.

BR’s founding executive are Sean Hanlon, Leopold Malan, Schalk Malan and Suzanne Stevens.