Contact person: Nicki Bompani
Email address: [email protected]
Contact number: 0833961811
The Digital Insurer Insurance Innovation Award
Meerkat was founded in 2016 by David O’Brien. A qualified actuary who has spent over 20 years
developing products in a large insurance company. David became frustrated at the low savings rate
and limited access to financial services in South Africa, and therefore conceived the promise of
Meerkat “looking out for you”. Our vision is to focus obsessively on the needs of the customer and
enable them to take back financial control.
We quickly identified the root cause of the low savings rate is the high-levels of over-indebtedness
South African consumers face. Over 9 million economically active consumers are classified as overindebted.
This means that over half of their salary is going towards servicing debt each month. They
do not have money to save. We see ourselves as a type of intensive care unit that will focus in on
these consumers and walk the journey with them to financial freedom.
Our debt counselling business was launched in October 2016 and we’ve already changed well over a
thousand lives. In understanding our customers needs and challenges we have identified other
opportunities to add further value during this journey.
The NCA allows Credit Providers to insist that debt obligations are covered by credit life insurance, as
a condition of the loan. Sometimes this continues during the debt counselling process and
sometimes it does not. The cover is often charged at a premium and not all consumers are even
aware they have it. We have designed our credit protection as a single contract with 1 premium that
replaces all individual life policies consumers may have and SAVE them money.
We provide richer cover at a lower premium and release much needed savings back into the
household each month. We see debt review as a step on the journey to financial wellness and the
savings can go back into the customer’s plan. This can reduce the time that the customer is under
debt review. It can also be used to reduce the total monthly payment if the customer is particularly
over indebted. Our customers are also protected against vulnerable events which could set them
back on their rehab journey, our plan also prevents the debt burden from being passed on to family
Our product and advice model is unique in that it allows us to selectively replace the various
insurance products in the plan. We are truly customer-centric and only replace where it is in the
client’s best interest to do so. Therefore, if the Meerkat product is not competitive, then we will
leave the existing credit provider insurance in place. However, the Meerkat product has been
specifically designed to replace the full range of offerings from credit providers. We cover critical
illness, compulsory unpaid leave, short time, as well as the more usual benefits like death, disability
and retrenchment. We have an independent actuarial opinion confirming the superiority of the
Meerkat benefits and most credit providers are comfortable to accept the Meerkat policy.
We have a fully automated sales and service process with mobile fulfilment via free SMS acceptance
– no paperwork, no signatures, no underwriting. A seamless digital delivery.
We apply the ‘ask once’ principle for customer correspondence, as we re-use customer documents
received from our debt counselling business making it easy for customers to do business with us.
We are a FAIS accredited financial services provider and have developed algorithms to offer assisted
advice. This minimizes human error, controls the advice risk and has obvious efficiency gains.
Our credit life protection plan is bundled into the debt counselling process and as such has zero
Our insurance premiums are linked to our debt counselling process, so the customer does not need
to set up a separate debit order, both convenient and simple.
We provide a proactive claims process driven by mobile technology. No forms need to be submitted
and claims are paid immediately to the credit provider upon receipt of requirements. We pay first,
any questions later.
Ongoing customer communications and engagement initiatives are deployed via the mobile phone,
keeping our customers informed, every step of the way on their journey to financial freedom.
The Meerkat Credit Protection plan is underwritten by Old Mutual Alternative Risk Transfer. Old
Mutual has been paying customer claims for over 172 years. There is no more secure company in
South Africa. Consumers often forget the importance of choosing an established company that will
pay their claims. In addition, the Meerkat team have collectively over 75 years of senior insurance
expertise, it is our core skill!
We have recently finalised the development of Moku, our robo-assistant. Moku currently assists
consumers to identify if their credit profile is good or bad, he will check if a candidate is likely to
qualify for a consolidation loan but will also start the debt counselling conversation by
understanding a consumer’s level of over-indebtedness and assessing their affordability. Moku
offers our customer a convenient, non-threatening way to learn more about a sensitive topic. Whilst
there are options to hand off to a human colleague throughout the chat the intention is to have
Moku provide end to end fulfilment. Moku also enables us to scale our reach and open up our
service to consumers to engage on their own terms.