Kenya has about 11,108 insurance agents, but with the industry recently liberalized to allow agents to cross-sell insurance across different underwriters securing agents’ loyalty becomes key.
Joseph Gathogo Head of Ordinary Life business at Madison Life Insurance, who has spent 28 years in the insurance industry believes selling policies is like going to war where you need an army of agents.
Mr. Gathogo whose fight for loyal sellers is defining his tenure at Madison says they are currently linked to over 1000 agents across their 25 branches in the country which has helped push its penetration in the market.
Madison was feted by the Association of Kenya Insurers (AKI) as the most improved company since he took over, mobilizing the most aggressive agents to sell for the company.
He says last year the company had only tied agent branch network but the firm has since expanded to two more distribution channels, the independent agent channel and also bancassurance.
“In 2021 we had five agents qualifying for the AKI awards from Madison, and last year we grew that five times, a 400 percent growth, and therefore that is how we became the most improved company of the year,” Mr. Gathogo said.
The underwriter says they especially focused on motivating their internal teams to push sales offering them motivation including trips to Dubai, Bangkok, Greece, or even locally to Mombasa.
He said the motivation and challenge their agents saw one of their agents, Elvis Agesa emerge as second best at selling policies at the 2022 General Insurance Agent of the Year Award behind Old Mutual’s Caroline Karanja and Kennedy Oyaya who took position three.
This year the company hopes to build from strength to strength to challenge for industry recognition as the company with the biggest number of agents, the most persistent policies where whatever they underwrite stays in their books, and also wants to have the top 50 agents in the market.
He says as a veteran in the industry who started off selling insurance, he has been able to push up the number of agents and policies sold leading by example and inspiring young agents.
He says, once an agent is motivated they build loyalty, and once loyal they strive to be the best, they want to be associated with the company and grow with it.
“I tell guys, I have been there, I have been at this war and this is how wars are won, so by doing that you show them by example. So this man was there for 28 years, so they see this person was there and I will be like him one day,” he said.
Madison plans to recruit more agents into the business, especially the younger generation, and also retain the current ones.
To achieve this, they are trying to come up with new products that are friendly to the youthful market because a salesperson who is young wants a product they can sell to people of their age, something catchy.
And where for a long-time distribution and sales have been mostly manual, the company is moving to digitize the process including having a digitized policy contract that can be sent to customers via email to capture Kenyans all over including diaspora in Dubai and London.
“We also want to create jobs, a lot of people do not know that selling insurance is a very good profession, some of the best-paid people in the marketplace are the insurance agents because they sell and are paid on commission,” he said.
Kenya’s insurance penetration has remained below 3 percent of GDP which has heightened competition among players for the small industry.
Mr. Gathogo said Madison differentiates itself in the way it handles clients ensuring they know what they are buying.
Before onboarding customers, the company agents take clients through financial literacy to explain to them the product suited for their types of incomes, the most comfortable premium amounts, and the frequency of payment that is in line with when their customers get earnings.
They interrogate if you are in business how is your business flow, if you are an employee is it contract, permanent, etc.
They also make it easier for their agents to sell insurance by ensuring they pay claims on time saying Madison is a promise keeper, and if the investment is set to mature they remind you three months to the actual date.
“Once a customer is satisfied, they beat any form of advertisement, so the word of mouth is so crucial. You promised me something five years ago, here is the cheque,” he said.