AXA targets EM middle-income market

French insurance giant AXA has ramped up its emerging markets (EM) strategy, appointing a new head of the EM business, and increasing its stake in EM micro-insurance specialist MicroEnsure.

The moves are part of what AXA calls a “global initiative” to sell insurance to the middle-income earners in emerging markets.

Garance Wattez-Richard has been appointed to head up the new strategy. She was previously the Group’s head of media relations and reputation, and leader of AXA’s Women & Insurance initiative.

AXA now has a 46% stake in MicroEnsure, a UK-based company that specialises in Asian and African insurance markets. It focuses on low and middle-income individuals, and covers risks relating to life, health, agriculture, assets, accidents and political violence. Other significant shareholders of MicroEnsure include Omidyar, Sanlam and the IFC-World Bank.

“Only 17% of global insurance premiums come from emerging markets, even though their contribution to global GDP is 40% . This discrepancy, in great part driven by the underinsurance of lower-income populations, highlights the potential growth impact of financial inclusion,” AXA said in a statement.

AXA estimates estimates that the micro-insurance industry represents 3 billion to 4 billion people in emerging markets, amounting to total annual premiums of around US$30bn to US$50bn.

In her new role, Garance Wattez-Richard will report to Thomas Buberl, member of AXA Group’s management committee and chief executive of AXA Germany.

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James Fernyhough
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