This Nigerian is digitally disrupting the car insurance industry, one innovation at a time
What comes to mind when you think of certain products like Netflix or Spotify? Pleasure, right? If you’re a frequent user of these apps, your brain will likely secret a “happy” chemical, dopamine, that associates the product with the pleasure you gain from good movies and songs. Car insurance products, on the other hand, leave most Nigerians disgruntled because of their experiences with them. Ibraheem Babalola, ETAP’s founder, is on a mission to change this narrative. Through a variegated approach, the Lagos-based entrepreneur is pushing to make car insurance seamless, enjoyable, and dopamine-inducible for Nigerians.
Ibraheem is playing in an industry that most Nigerians don’t care about. In a country of over 200 million people, a meagre 0.3% (less than 1 in 10 drivers) are insured. This blatantly contravenes the law, which requires every vehicle on Nigeria’s soil to be perpetually insured. Apparently, most Nigerians would rather put their insurance in the hands of fate and prayers, as that is free of charge and automatically renewable. Yet, accidents on Nigerian roads are on the rise. This is where ETAP is stepping in, with numerous proposals that could convince vehicle owners to finally say, ”Yes, I do,” to car insurance.
ETAP is leveraging technology to digitise how Africans consume car insurance. By eliminating the bottlenecks associated with traditional insurance companies, ETAP claims its users can buy car insurance in 90 seconds and complete their insurance claims within a record three minutes. While some other insuretech companies might have similar value offerings, ETAP takes its value offering a notch higher by gamifying the driving experience of its drivers. Using ETAP’s mobile app, which uses advanced telematics to monitor driving behaviour, drivers can score safe driving points for their trips. These points can then be exchanged for goodies such as free fuel, movie and concert tickets, shopping vouchers, and many more dopamine-inducing treats.
“No insuretech in Nigeria has a product like ours in the market,” Babalola told TechCabal over a call. “We are solving the problems of accessibility, trust, and convenience, which are the major pain points people encounter when buying insurance. To cap it, we’re making this very simple for everyone to use and incentivising drivers along the way.”
“Some extra perks for ETAP’s users include the app’s ability to reach local emergency services in the event of an accident. Drivers of the affected cars can also be instantly paired to accredited car repair centres nearby. With all these, we are taking car insurance to the next level and renewing Nigerians’ trust in insurance,” Babalola said.
ETAP launched its private beta in November 2021, gathered feedback on its first version, iterated on it, and then launched an improved version in April 2022, marking its go-to-market product.
Within these 5 months, the company says its customers have made over 1 million kilometres of insured trips, with a projection to cross the 2 million kilometre mark by the year’s end.
Like many innovative startups across the world, ETAP was born from the problems its founder experienced firsthand. For Babalola, buying car insurance in Nigeria was simply a drag. He had to call someone to renew his contracts every time they expired, and at some point, he started thinking, “there’s got to be a better way to get this done.” ETAP turned out to be that better way, and today, Babalola and thousands of others use ETAP to automate their insurance processes and receive timely notifications.
As Nigerians say, show me your friend—or partner—and I will tell you who you are. ETAP has been on a partnership streak with mega industry players over the past few months. In July, it partnered with MTN, the largest telco in Nigeria, to give millions of drivers access to ETAP’s gamified driving perks at a zero-data cost. Babalola hinted that the folks at MTN were effusive about ETAP’s product, signalling a mutual interest from both parties, especially as the telco is gradually transitioning into a full technology company.
ETAP’s latest partnership was a deal with CFAO Motors, the sole distributor of Suzuki cars in Nigeria. This deal translated to embedded insurance coverage for all new car purchases from CFAO Motors.
Beyond the unconventional experience ETAP offers its users, the company’s horn sounds the loudest in its ability to calculate premiums on a case-by-case basis. Using an algorithm analogous to financial credit scoring, ETAP can assess the risks associated with each driver and calculate a corresponding personalised premium for them at their first interaction with the company. As the drivers continue to use the app for their trips, their average trip score is factored into their profile. Drivers can leverage a high average score to access lower premiums in the future.
“We are continuously working hard to open markets and win Nigerians over to insurance. Other possibilities we are exploring are partnerships with banks that could enable drivers in our network [to] earn financial rewards when they drive safely. There’s still so much more in our pipeline. We’re only scratching the surface now,” Babalola said confidently.
Earlier in April, ETAP raised $1.5 million in pre-seed funding in a round led by Mobility 54, the venture capital arm of Toyota Tsusho and CFAO Group. With this raise and an ambitious Babalola at the helm of affairs, ETAP hopes to expand its offerings into other African countries, starting with Ghana in Q4 of 2022.
Babalola, a serial CEO with a history of building both fintech and proptech startups to scale, is reconciling the Nigerian insurance market with the realities in more advanced countries of the world. Like his contemporaries scattered across the continent, the young entrepreneur is contributing to the digital revolution sweeping across Africa. He’s quite aware that he’s playing in a relatively immature industry. Still, this gritty Nigerian is doing all it takes to digitally disrupt Nigeria’s car insurance industry, one innovation at a time.