Njeri Jomo: Simplifying Insurance for the Masses

Njeri Jomo, CEO and Principal Officer of Jubilee Health Insurance, has a unique talent for demystifying the complexities of insurance. Her approach, rooted in a deep understanding of Kenya's cultural nuances, aims to make insurance accessible and relatable. Njeri explains, "People naturally want to protect what they value," highlighting her mission to simplify insurance. Recently, the Fintech Association of Kenya paid her a courtesy visit to discuss how Jubilee Health Insurance leverages technology to offer products and services. With over 20 years in the financial services industry, Njeri emphasizes the potential of technology to scale services, including telemedicine and AI in underwriting risk. Her leadership, characterized by a blend of head and heart, focuses on work ethic and understanding what motivates her team. Njeri is passionate about fostering a culture of ownership and accountability within Jubilee Health Insurance. Her strategic use of technology, such as AI in claims processing and digital health monitoring, promotes healthier lifestyles and ensures data protection. Njeri also addresses the importance of mental health and community support in healthcare. Her efforts to educate consumers about insurance and innovative payment models aim to increase adoption in Kenya. For Njeri, success is measured by the impact on lives, with initiatives like AfyaMashinani providing healthcare to those who can't afford it. Looking ahead, she envisions a future driven by technology and consumer needs, making healthcare more accessible and affordable.

Njeri Jomo the CEO and Principal Officer of Jubilee Health Insurance has a unique talent for demystifying the complexities of insurance. Her approach is rooted in a deep understanding of Kenya's cultural nuances, particularly the nation's borrowing culture over a savings culture. "People naturally want to protect what they value," she explains. Her mission is to translate the intricate world of insurance into something accessible and relatable for everyone.

Fintech Association Of Kenya paid her a courtesy visit to discuss how Jubilee Insurance is leveraging technology to offer health products and services. It's an arithmetic she is fluent in, with over 20 years in the financial services industry. Work ethic, she says, has been her North Star. We believe her; you don't get to the top of the food chain through sheer luck. She, however, still sees the potential of technology to scale. Telemedicine. AI in Underwriting Risk. She's positioning Jubilee health Insurance to be at the vanguard. Isn't it the elders who told us the wolf on the hill is not as hungry as the wolf climbing the hill?

As we enter the office of Njeri Jomo, the CEO of Jubilee Health, located in the heart of Nairobi's Central Business District, we are greeted by a scene that exudes both professionalism and a touch of personal flair. The office, a blend of modern design and subtle African influences, reflects the dynamic nature of the city outside.

The air is filled with the subtle scent of fresh flowers, a bouquet of lilies and roses sitting on a side table, adding a touch of nature to the corporate environment. As we settle into our seats, Njeri, a figure of calm authority, greets us with a warm smile. Her office is a reflection of her personality—elegant yet unpretentious.

As she speaks, her gestures are measured and deliberate, reflecting her thoughtful and strategic approach to leadership. Her voice, calm and assured, fills the room with a sense of purpose and direction. Her eyes, sharp and observant, miss nothing, yet there is a warmth that makes one feel instantly at ease.

Breaking Down Barriers

We have a borrowing culture rather than a savings culture in Kenya," Njeri Jomo begins, her voice steady and assured. "People naturally want to protect what they value. My job is to translate the complex world of insurance into something everyone can understand. It’s important to simplify insurance to make it accessible and relatable. It's about breaking it down to the least common denominator."

Njeri's approach is rooted in cultural understanding. "In Kenya, community support systems like WhatsApp contribution groups are prevalent. When someone faces a financial emergency, they turn to their community for help. This is a stark contrast from most markets for example in South Africa where insurance penetration is double digit, you don’t see contributions for funeral expenses. There, you are unlikely to receive community support in the same way. Instead, you are expected to ensure your family’s life is planned ahead, and funeral insurance cover takes care of that."

She draws a vivid comparison. "In South Africa, the need to provide for funerals is a key driver of financial behavior. Funerals are a pivotal social event, and the financial burden on surviving relatives can be significant. As a result, many South Africans put money aside for funeral insurance to ensure that their loved ones receive a dignified send-off. This cultural expectation has led to a sophisticated and widely accessed informal financial sector, with millions of people belonging to burial societies and purchasing funeral cover from formal insurers."

Njeri 's mission is to bridge the gap between these cultural differences and make insurance more relatable to Kenyans. "We need to educate consumers that insurance is a risk transfer mechanism. It's about protecting what you have saved and ensuring that you and your family are covered in times of need. By breaking down the complexities of insurance and making it more accessible, we can help more people understand its value and importance."

Her strategy is clear and focused. "We must innovate and create products that resonate with the Kenyan market. This means understanding the unique needs and behaviors of our consumers and tailoring our offerings accordingly. By doing so, we can build trust and encourage more people to adopt insurance as a vital component of their financial planning

Balancing Leadership: Head and Heart

Njeri's leadership style is a blend of head and heart, tailored to the situation at hand. "Building an organization requires strong fundamentals, but you also need to inspire people," she says. Understanding what motivates her team is crucial to her leadership approach.

Challenges and Culture

Running a large organization like Jubilee Health Insurance comes with its challenges. "Aligning everyone in the same direction is the biggest challenge," Njeri admits. "There are many interests at play, but my team knows I emphasize clients and value systems. Our values must align to create a predictable system that delivers value to customers and shareholders."

Njeri is passionate about fostering a culture of ownership and accountability. "When people are thriving at an individual level, you get the best of themselves within the organization," she believes. This culture is not just about achieving business goals but also about ensuring that employees are excited to come to work every day.

The Impact of Technology

Under Njeri’s leadership, Jubilee health is harnessing cutting-edge technologies to streamline operations, personalize services, and promote healthier lifestyles.

Intelligent Claims Processing

One of the most significant technological advancements is the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into claims processing. Njeri reveals that Jubilee Health Insurance is "leveraging AI for claims adjudication, breaking down costs to the smallest detail." This AI-powered system can meticulously analyze medical costs, reports, statements, and policy details, automating the extraction of information and mitigating the risks associated with manual processes.

By reducing reliance on human data entry, the system minimizes errors and enhances accuracy. Additionally, AI algorithms can validate extracted data against predefined criteria, ensuring adherence to expected formats and standards. This contextual understanding contributes to accurate claim assessments and faster resolutions, ultimately improving customer satisfaction.

Embracing Digital Health Monitoring

Another area where technology is making waves is digital health monitoring. Njeri notes that "mental health, driven by social media, is now a significant conversation." To address this emerging concern, Jubilee Health Insurance covers both mental wellness and mental illness, recognizing the critical role of mental health in overall well-being.

Moreover, the company is leveraging telematics and wearable devices to monitor various health metrics, such as steps taken, heart rate, and sleep patterns. Njeri explains, "We are now creating a Kenyan and an African data set, because today, when you look at data sets on what constitutes a healthy individual, we don't have a data set that is uniquely African for our environment."

By collecting and analyzing this localized data, Jubilee Health Insurance can better understand the health trends and needs of its customer base, enabling more personalized and effective healthcare solutions.

Incentivizing Healthy Lifestyles

Leveraging the power of technology, Jubilee Health Insurance is actively promoting healthier lifestyles among its customers. The company has introduced initiatives like Maisha Fiti, a gamified fitness app that encourages physical activity through community challenges and rewards.

Njeri explains, "We gamified it, made it fun, and introduced community. We reward you with discounts just because you're putting in the effort." By integrating technology with financial incentives, the company motivates its customers to adopt healthier habits, potentially leading to improved health outcomes and reduced claims costs.

Prioritizing Data Protection

While embracing technology's potential, Jubilee Health Insurance remains steadfast in its commitment to data protection. Njeri emphasizes, "We inform our customers of their data rights and ensure they sign consents. We prefer to use data within our jurisdiction and are very protective of it."

The company has implemented robust data protection measures, including encryption, access controls, and auditing mechanisms. Njeri acknowledges the importance of maintaining customer trust and ensuring data privacy, especially in the sensitive realm of healthcare.

Mental Health and Wellness

One of the most significant trends Njeri has observed is the increasing importance of mental health. "Mental health is now something that we actively address," she says. Jubilee Health Insurance covers both mental wellness and mental illness, recognizing the critical role of mental health in overall well-being. The company also offers counseling services to address issues like social media addiction, reflecting Jomo's holistic approach to health insurance.

Community and Collaboration

Understanding the importance of community in Kenyan culture, Njeri has introduced initiatives like Maisha Fiti, an app that promotes fitness through community challenges. "We gamified it, made it fun, and introduced community," she says, emphasizing the role of collective motivation in achieving health goals. Jubilee Health Insurance also collaborates with various partners to enhance its services, from telemedicine to drug delivery.

Addressing Low Adoption

One of the biggest challenges Njeri faces is the low adoption of insurance in Kenya. She attributes this to a lack of understanding of what insurance does and cultural factors. "We have a lot of work to do in terms of consumer education," she admits. To address this, Jubilee Health Insurance is piloting community insurance schemes and exploring innovative payment models like Lipa polepole (pay slowly) to make insurance more accessible.

Measuring Success

For Njeri, success is measured by impact. "The number of lives we’ve touched, from illness to wellness, is our measure of success," she states. Initiatives like AfyaMashinani, which provides healthcare to those who can’t afford it, are central to Jubilee Health Insurance's social impact agenda.

The Future of Insurance in Africa

Looking ahead, Njeri sees a bright future for health insurance, driven by technology and a deeper understanding of consumer needs. "Healthcare technology convergence will be one of the very big spaces to watch," she predicts. With initiatives like centralized health records and dynamic pricing, Jubilee Health Insurance is poised to lead the way in making healthcare more accessible and affordable.

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Njeri Jomo's leadership at Jubilee Health Insurance is a masterclass in combining innovation with empathy. By simplifying insurance and making it more accessible, she is not just transforming a company but also making a significant impact on the lives of countless Kenyans. She envisions a future where insurance is not just a financial product but a vital component of social security, ensuring that every individual has the protection and peace of mind needed to face health challenges without financial strain.