One of the key takeaways from the recent “SheforShield” study produced by Accenture, the International Finance Corporation and AXA, is the critical role that digital distribution will play in reaching women with insurance information in the developing world.

Digital reach is proving to transcend age and socioeconomic level. In fact, the ubiquity of mobile devices is a key driver of the growth of microinsurance—the protection of low-income people against specific peril in exchange for regular premium payment–in some of the world’s poorest economies. For example, a partnership between mobile network Tigo and Vanguard Life Assurance provides free microinsurance to Tigo subscribers, and has reached more than a million people in Ghana and Tanzania.

Digital channels are especially effective ways to reach the young and the “time-poor”—women who are balancing a multitude of tasks at home, in the workplace and in their communities. Studies show these women place high value on peer-to-peer recommendations, making targeted social networks and mobility a way for insurers to reach them.

Insurers need to leverage digital distribution channels to increase awareness and communicate with women who have access to time-saving digital services such as mobile smart phones to manage both their families and professional agendas. And digital capabilities coupled with a strong women’s salesforce are the best way to reach women, the study finds.

This includes providing clear, relevant coverage information and targeted risk management advice to reduce the time and cost for women to research products. However, the specific methods used to reach each market segment will differ.

SheforShield: market segments
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For example, in connecting with the low-income customer market segment as seen above, insurers must first understand their need for basic, affordable products that address their most important concerns: life, health and crop insurance for small farming concerns. These women have limited awareness of insurance as a protection mechanism, and traditional insurance processes are not adapted to their living conditions.

To reach them, insurers must develop affordable, practical products, made deliverable to a large scale of customers through widely available technology such as mobile devices.

Another female market segment—retirees—have assets and are educated and pragmatic about spending; they also want to provide financially for their children and grandchildren. Although retirees research insurance products and services through a growing online insurance marketplace, especially in Latin America and Asia, there is often a lack of targeted advice on how they can manage their retirement and savings. In this case, insurers can supplement products and information with in-person visits from female sales agents to provide one-on-one, personalized financial advice.

Insurers can also use the digital channel to deliver after-sales and wrap-around services, especially for the working mother segment, such as online claims tracking that can help these busy women anticipate the timeline and amount of their payout.

Next week I’ll examine the role that strategic partnerships with governments and other entities can play in reaching the world’s female population.

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