Justinus van der Westhuyzen, the CEO of newly formed short-term insurance company King Price, comes to work, dressed casually in a pair of shorts and a casual shirt.
The atmosphere at the company’s offices in Windhoek’s Klein Windhoek suburb is informal, with both the senior executives and junior staff casually dressed. The office is painted in bright colours.
Van Der Westhuyzen says his casual dress sense represents a new approach to the rigid nature of the insurance industry, which he says King Price plans to shake up.
“We have shaken up the industry. Everybody has said so,” he says of the company formed late last year. The company started operating in September 2016 with a start up capital of N$35 million and has so far written 1,500 policies.
Van Der Westhuyzen was born in Windhoek in 1983, but moved to Stellenbosch in the Western Cape of South Africa at a young age, where a grew up on a wheat farm. He matriculated from Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch and studied for a bachelor’s degree in accounting at the University of Stellenbosch and later studied for an honours degree in accounting at the University of South Africa (Unisa).
He then moved back to Namibia in 2007 and worked for one of the country’s biggest auditing firms and got into the insurance business, where he was employed as a financial director. He later moved on to a large insurance company, where he became a chief operations officer and board member.
Despite achieving success at a young age, Van Der Westhuyzen says he wanted to achieve more and that the slow pace of the corporate world frustrated him. ‘’But there was always something missing. I wanted to do something better. There is lack of innovation on the market. Insurers are always these slow moving dinosaurs,’’ he said.
He argues that consumers are not well looked after by the value chain. ‘’The rest of the companies are not as consumer-focused as they should be,’’ he said.
Van Der Westhuyzen says King Price wants Namibians to pay less for insurance than they do at present. ‘’Insurance has always been a grudge purchase. I want to evolve it. I want to take it to the next level.’’
Namibian shareholders own 26 percent of shares, while the rest of the shares are owned by Munich Re and the Mertech Group, whose owner, Francois van Niekerk, co founded the Atterbury Property Group. The company is reinsured with Munich Re and NamibRe.
He says King Price has disrupted the industry with its pricing model. While most insurance companies increase car premiums every year, Van Der Westhuyzen said his company’s premiums decrease every month, as the car’s value depreciates.
‘’We adjust the premiums every month to the retail value. We don’t give bogus out-bonus. We give the best price upfront. We reward you for not claiming.’’
Giving an example of a car insurance premium that starts at N$900, he said over 36 months the client would have paid 20 percent less and would have saved N$5,829 compared to other companies.
Talking about future plans, he said King Price also plans to introduce services, like car towing and chauffeur services. ‘’This is just the beginning, I am going to complete the whole insurance chain in the future.’’
With 47,000 visits to its website and 7,700 Facebook likes in six months, Van Der Westhuyzen said the company is growing rapidly.