Many workers in India earn a daily wage for their labor and rely on that income to survive. But what happens when a person can’t work due to illness or injury? Or loses their job in a global pandemic? Without a safety net for protection, a financial shock like job loss, illness, or theft is devastating, especially to lower-income families.
Toffee Insurance, part of Accion Venture Lab’s portfolio, is a startup that connects uninsured people in India to accessible, affordable insurance products for the specific risks that threaten their health and livelihoods. Instead of expensive and complicated policies that cover a broad range of needs, Toffee offers very specific, simple policies that cover the risks that are most relevant to their consumers, like dengue, malaria, hospital cash, bicycle damage, and theft. Now, they are introducing new products to help underinsured people build financial resilience to the impact of COVID-19.
Putting safety nets within reach for the uninsured
Toffee Insurance is changing the way that people buy and sell insurance in order to reach the huge population of at-risk, uninsured people in India. Toffee acts as the bridge between these consumers and large, traditional insurance companies. “We were frustrated with the complexity of insurance for the longest time, we figured there was an easier way to make insurance a safety net for most people, easier to consume. Making insurance a lot more accessible, affordable, and relevant to the masses,” Rohan Kumar, CEO and co-founder, explains Toffee Insurance’s origins.
Customers can purchase policies on Toffee’s website or mobile app in under two minutes and submit claims just as quickly. Toffee handles the claims process with major insurance companies, making the process simpler and faster for the end consumers. In addition to direct online sales, Toffee Insurance works with a network of retailers who offer inexpensive insurance policies for their customers. For example, cycling shops offer Toffee’s commuter accident policies to their bicycle customers who rely on their bicycles to commute to work.
Because these microinsurance policies cover very specific needs, Toffee is able to offer low monthly premiums to their customers. For middle and lower-income people in India who are not familiar with insurance, the affordability and simplicity of these products are key. “This is a model which can actually help bring more people into the net of insurance and can address very, very specific needs of the people,” explains Gourav Agarwal, Chief Distribution Officer.
Product innovation for those impacted by COVID-19
Lower-income families and individuals have always been especially vulnerable to unexpected financial shocks from job loss, injury, and illness. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic has created new, unprecedented threats to lives and livelihoods. Across India, Rohan believes, “the biggest risk outside of personal health and wellbeing is the financial uncertainty for most individuals and families.” That’s where Toffee Insurance hopes to provide some relief. “Our mission has always been to curate affordable, accessible, and relevant products for the large, uninsured masses. This pandemic helps, in some ways, create more awareness for having safety nets in place,” notes Rohan.
As people become more interested in health and life insurance categories in reaction to the pandemic, Toffee is introducing new products that cover COVID-19-specific losses at a low monthly premium, covering essential needs like telemedicine, mental health services, and job loss. Toffee Insurance is relying on their existing tech capabilities to continue issuing policies remotely during India’s lockdown in order to help the uninsured to build financial resilience to the pandemic. In addition to new product offerings, Toffee and the start-up community in India are helping the severely impacted in other ways, like contributing to charities on the frontlines, leveraging call centers to assist hospital information networks, and reassuring customers and businesses that they will be flexible on payments.
While Toffee focuses on taking care of their team and their community, they are staying committed to their mission to extend insurance to those who are most susceptible to financial shocks and least likely to have a safety net in place. “Inclusion of more people under the net of insurance is what is making us proud,” says Gourav.