In 2005, wholly-Malawian owned insurance firm Reunion Insurance Limited was birthed out of the demise of the then CGU Insurance Company. Some of the staff then teamed; putting their resources and efforts together in a step rated as bold and courageous. It has now been 16 years. Our journalist WILLIAM KUMWEMBE caught up with Reunion Insurance Chief Executive Officer Dorothy Chapeyama, who is chronicling the firm’s journey this far.
Firstly, take us through the birth of Reunion Insurance.
Reunion Insurance Company Limited is a reputable Malawian General Insurance Company with a record of professionalism and efficiency in claims handling, underwriting and other areas of operations. The company was established on May 3 2005 by indigenous Malawians to add value to the insurance industry in Malawi and this year 2021 marks the Company’s 16th Anniversary of existence in the industry. The company was born after the closure of what was the branch office (local office) of an International Insurance Company (CGU Insurance Company). An opportunity arose for the then management and some members of staff to team up and formed a local insurance company and hence the name “Reunion”. We started small with a staff compliment of 10 and we are boasting of a staff compliment of more than 66 operating from 11 offices.
Reunion Insurance is celebrating its 16th Anniversary this year; how has the journey been?
This sixteenth anniversary is a milestone in our business. Over the last 16 years; we have had a mixture of experiences which included business challenges, opportunities as well as successes, together with happy and sad memories.
Our positivity has been reflecting clearly in our growth rates and as the saying goes, “slow and steady wins the race”. Reunion has undeniably been one of the most steadily growing insurance companies in Malawi. In the year 2020, the Company registered an increase in premiums, profitability, and total assets despite a tough economic environment as a result of the effects of Covid-19 pandemic, stiff market competition, price undercutting, amongst others.
The gross written premium for the year under review grew from MK4.06 billion in 2019 to K4.37 billion in 2020 representing a growth rate of 8 percent. Claims on the other hand decreased from K1.72 billion in 2019 to MK1.64 billion in 2020. The Company registered a remarkable profit before tax of MK641 million against MK546 million in 2019 representing 18 percent increase.
Total assets grew by 20 percent from K4.34 billion in 2019 to K5.21 billion while equity moved from K1.61 billion in 2019 to K2.14 billion
Reunion Insurance has a staff compliment of 66 and operating from eleven offices spread across the country.
In celebration of each anniversary, our company has over the years shared its success with Malawians, giving back to the community through donations that have funded numerous community activities, literacy programmes, natural disasters, economic development initiatives and many more.
Over the years, the firm has risen to be among the most competitive in the industry, what has kept Reunion Insurance afloat?
We have extensively invested in modern technology and continually embrace new methods and platforms of servicing our clients, investing in equipment and system upgrades. Our company has also embraces core human values, such as Trust, Integrity, and Teamwork and remains ever grateful for the fantastic team of enthusiastic, experienced and professional employees; as it continues to help the nation with employment opportunities. These have been our key business tenets to our success.
How would you rate your positioning on the market?
Reunion Insurance is among the best insurance companies in Malawi in terms of claims handling, underwriting and all other areas of operations. We are steadily growing each day and we will continue to improve our products and service delivery to meet and exceed our customer’s expectations. Being a wholly owned Malawian Insurance company we are grateful to our customers and the business partners for the support we get from them which has brought us this far and we still look forward to more of this support even in this Covid-19 pandemic period and beyond.
What does the future look like?
Our main goal is to grow and make Reunion Insurance a household name in Malawi insurance sector. This will be done by promoting our insurance products to all potential customers both in rural and urban areas. We endeavor to provide innovative insurance products and services through professional and motivated staff as enshrined in our mission.
We are talking at a time insurance penetration remains relatively low in the country; What challenges and opportunities are available?
The insurance sector in Malawi is competitive, young but slowly coming of age. There are eight (8) general insurance companies in Malawi and competition is very stiff.
The current insurance penetration ratio in Malawi is around 3 percent. This means we are presented with a massive 97 percent business opportunity as many people are not yet covered and therefore in need of insurance. Motor remains the biggest contributor to the industry’s gross written premium and accounts for about 60 percent. This is because motor insurance is mandatory. However, non-motor insurance which has a huge number of potential customers is not fully tapped but obviously profitable.
The greatest challenge is that the literacy levels in as far as insurance products and the benefit thereof amongst the insuring public is evidently very low. Besides that, there is a negative perception about insurance companies and that needs to be addressed. Other challenges facing the insurance industry are dealt by collective efforts by players and direct engagement with the Regulator should they so arise and we have always made progress through such engagements.
On our part; we will enhance awareness of our products and services; we are conducting aggressive marketing and awareness campaigns to reach out to the uninsured masses through online and traditional platforms. This is outlined in our 2021 Marketing and Business Development action plan which support our Company Strategic Plan, which guides our decisions.