Kudakwashe Mhundwa and Kumbirai Tarusarira
Diversified insurance service provider, Cell Insurance Group’s varied business portfolio and strategies, have assisted the business stay afloat in the face of a volatile macro-operating environment, according to group chief executive officer Mr Isheunesu Makuwaza.
Most insurance firms operating in the country have been failing to meet their obligations as witnessed by failure to pay out claims leading to high shortfalls being left to clients in the medical aid insurance sector.
This situation, the operators, have blamed on the volatility of the operating environment among other issues.
Speaking on the sidelines of the company’s ZWS ISO9001: 2015 certification ceremony in Harare yesterday, Mr Makuwaza said the company’s primary concern has been on hedging its business against inflationary pressures and making sure that they pay out claims.
“It has been a big challenge keeping tabs with the current inflationary environment. Like any other entity, we want to hedge against any challenges and a critical millstone that we have achieved is the ownership of a 22 percent stake in Lidwala Insurance in Swaziland.
“So with that strategic thrust, we are looking at going into the region — the main objective being to assist the cause of the country and raise some capital and it is also important for us as a company to hedge against inflation.
“Insurance is an international business, so if we have operations in other jurisdictions we can assure our local clients that they are covered because we can tap into external resources to assist local operations,” said Mr Makuwaza.
He highlighted that the company’s product offering has also assisted the business stay competitive on the local market.
“The Cell Group has been innovative enough to produce basically three options within our short term and our medical fund. The first one is our conventional cover that is linked with the official interbank rate and this is revised periodically.
“We also give purely US dollar cover and the third strategy which is our differentiator in the market is the Cell concept itself, which revolves on the concept of self-funding and application of risk management at the highest level. So what that means is we have two options — it’s either a company rents a cell — when you are renting a cell you are putting a fund that carries your losses and we offer you catastrophic protection.
“The second one is a company capitalising a cell, a company puts in capital into a cell, which is an insurance company and we insure our risks in there and this is the best one because then we can work with the company to give it catastrophic protection and offer it aggressive risk management to minimise losses,” said Mr Makuwaza.
Cell Insurance begun operations in 2004 as a fully-fledged mining insurance provider and has since diversified into the health care business through the creation of two other business units namely Cell Med Health Fund and Nectacare in 2009 and 2017.
Mr Makuwaza said the group remains optimistic about growing its footprint in the Zimbabwean medical insurance market, with the firm targeting to open several medical facilities countrywide.
“We are very futuristic in terms of our business plans, we want to consolidate our position in Zimbabwe as far as Cell Med Health Care Fund and Nectacare.
“We are in the process of taking over Zvishavane hospital. We are also expecting to open a pharmacy in Mutare by the end of July and Nectacare is also in the process of establishing emergency room facilities in Bulawayo.
“With the Bulawayo 24, we are almost done, we procured a building (for US$400 000) and the refurbishments that we have done I can put them at around US$180 000. We are now preparing to equip it. Our current projections are that we will be able to spent about half a million in equipping that place,” said Mr Makuwaza.