Curacel, the YC-backed startup developing insurance infrastructure for the African market, has launched a new interface that enables digital businesses such as retail, fintech, e-commerce and logistics to add insurance to their basic products.

The API-based tool, dubbed Grow, has so far been integrated with 22 tech entities across Africa, including Topship, Barter by Flutterwave, Float, Fingo and Payhippo, allowing them to either bundle their core products with insurance packages, or to offer stand-alone insurance. service. The tool also provides new growth opportunities for insurers in the travel, health and automotive industries by helping them distribute their products digitally.

By making insurance products easily accessible to users of popular digital technologies, Curacel Grow aims to increase access to and uptake of insurance in Africa, where penetration is less than 3% – and 1.2% without the oversized South African market.

“The opportunity is huge. And we’re not just looking at where people are buying insurance for themselves, we’re also looking at transactions that are insurable – like you can bundle loans and life insurance together,” said Curacel CEO and co-founder Henry Mascot, who is leading the startup out of Nigeria.

Mascot’s entrepreneurial journey began in 2017, when it helped hospitals digitize records. However, it wasn’t until 2019 that he partnered with co-founder John Dada (CTO) to develop insurance technology, starting with a fraud detection system for a health insurance company. , a pilot project that revealed the need for more technology in insurance. Marlet.

“We realized there were a lot of problems. Insurance companies were losing a lot of money to fraud. And so we built the system for them,” Mascot said.

Curacel builds insurance infrastructure for emerging markets. Picture credits: curacel

Curacel (YC W22) allows any hospital with a management system to connect their system to startup APIs, for seamless integration with insurance companies and to automate the payment process. Mascot said about 4,000 hospitals and 15 partner insurance companies, including Old Mutual and AXA Mansard, have used their platform and through their systems have processed claims worth up to $25 million.

“We’ve built an infrastructure around insurance that makes the industry work better, from the process of selling insurance to ensuring that people who actually have insurance get paid quickly and efficiently,” Mascot said.

The foundational technologies built by Curacel now allow them to create a product that has the potential to reach millions of users in the nine markets in which they operate, including Nigeria and Ivory Coast, as they seek growth beyond providing software to businesses. Curacel, which is also set to enter the Egyptian market, raised $450,000 in pre-seed funding last year to fund its expansion campaign.

“A full stack of technology is needed to enable built-in assurance, such as reconciliation, payment, reporting and data to ensure you’re recommending the right product to the right person. We started by building an API infrastructure, but we are a strong technology company, which allows us to deliver this product. »

Insurance in Africa remains a marginal product, with penetration levels on the continent half the global average as a percentage of GDP, and premiums per capita 11 times lower than the global average, according to a McKinsey report. Despite these low figures, the African market remains the second fastest growing behind Latin America. The continent’s insurance industry, which remains highly fragmented and facing the challenge of distribution, is currently valued at $68 billion, measured by gross written premiums. Lack of trust due to delays or denial due to manual claims processing also contributes to low usage.

“People don’t really trust insurance companies because they don’t pay claims as quickly as they should, and that may have to do with the slow manual process,” Mascot said.

“Thus, we are providing the infrastructure to existing insurance companies and the ecosystem to make them more efficient and scale faster to seize the opportunity in Africa,” he said.

Curacel now joins a field that already has several insurtechs, including Lami Technologies, which is developing its API insurance platform on the continent. This comes as the penetration of smartphones and affordable internet intensifies across the continent, providing opportunities for the adoption of digital products and for insurtechs to step in and offer innovative products.

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