Zimbabwe’s Econet ventures into Life Insurance services

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Zimbabwe's leading mobile phone operator, Econet Wireless and insurance giant, First Mutual Life have unveiled a new life insurance cover to cater for over 4.5 million Econet subscribers.

The new life cover, Ecolife, which is part of the initiative to provide life insurance to those unable to get a policy due to high costs, was launched last week. Ecolife was developed in partnership with Trustco Mobile, a division of JSE-listed Trustco Group Holdings, a Namibian based financial services company. FML are the underwriter of Ecolife.

Econet chief executive Douglas Mboweni said Ecolife would be sold as a US$3 monthly airtime package, and every dollar goes towards increasing the life cover. In the event of the death of the insured, the life cover is determined by the monthly airtime recharge for the last six months prior to death of the insured.

Claim qualification is based on a six-month continuous subscription to the package -- any skipped subscription invalidates claim capability and restarts claim qualification on next subscription. "This means that the more airtime one buys, the more cover they get, up to a maximum pay out of US$10 000," said Mboweni.

Ecolife benefit table shows that an air time voucher of up to US$4 would receive life cover of up to US$40. Those who part with US$9 airtime would be covered up to US$180 and those who spend a maximum US$100 would be covered up to US$10 000. He added that the scheme was not only free, but was also extremely simple to access for the user. "A person does not have to visit FML offices to subscribe to EcoLife. Everything can be done via SMS," he said.

Econet and FML, an arm of Afre Corporation, are also collaborating to launch other products, including auto insurance and drought cover for small-scale farmers. Mboweni said the insurance product is one of many services Econet is developing to create convenience for its customers and help make life easier for Zimbabweans.