A technological edge in insuranceApril 15, 2021
Rui Alves, general manager of STA Seguros, talks to The Energy Year about the pandemic’s impact on the Angolan insurance sector, competition in the domestic market and how the company is expanding its offering. STA Seguros provides insurance products to individual and corporate clients in Angola, including oil and gas companies.
How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected the Angolan insurance sector?
The demand for insurance services has decreased significantly due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many companies had no choice but to fire employees and cut costs. There is less money circulating in the country’s economy and insurance sector, and the economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic has continued to force a depreciation of the Angolan currency. As a company, staying lean and agile has enabled us to keep our expenses low and ensure business continuity.
How do you assess the level of competition in the domestic insurance market?
Competition is becoming more and more aggressive. The last report issued by the Angolan National Insurance Regulation Agency (Arseg) rated us as the 12th-best-performing player out of the 28 entities authorised to operate in the domestic insurance sector. Given that we are a young and small company with only 15 employees, we are very proud of the position we hold in the market. Our goal is to make it into the top 10 leading insurers by the end of 2021.
What are the key elements of the mandate that was given to STA upon its establishment in 2015?
Our first objective was to stabilise the company by recruiting and retaining talented individuals with the right skillset. Finding a skilled Angolan workforce can sometimes be challenging. Currently, we have only one expat, who acts as a consultant and is based outside the country. When you only have 15 employees, it becomes even more important to surround yourself with people that are exceptional in what they do. Otherwise, your company is doomed to failure.
The second step was to invest in and leverage new technologies for the company’s growth. All our infrastructure has been moved to the cloud; we don’t have servers, documents or physical assets. If we decide to move to another office, we only have to take the furniture and the computers.
Our company roadmap aims to have all our products and offerings stored in the cloud. Investing in technology is the only way to differentiate ourselves from the growing competition. Instead of having a lot of smaller branches and shops, we are working on investing in new applications and enhancing our online presence.
How important is the oil and gas industry to STA’s operations today?
We have traditionally been working with partners and third-party brokers that are connected to the oil and gas companies, but we also provide direct services to oil and gas players. In fact, Sonils is one of our clients and we also work with Algoa, a leading provider of construction, fabrication, maintenance and plant services in the Cabinda region for the past 50 years.
What steps has the company taken to modernise insurance product development in the country?
We are fully focused on technology. With more and more companies working remotely as a result of the pandemic, leveraging technology and digital transformation has taken on the utmost importance for our activity.
We are planning on launching a new solution that allows clients to have experiences in real time, in order to facilitate the subscription process. This is just one of the many ways we are trying to diversify our offerings and improve our response time as an insurer.