Attitude equals altitude

Ian de Waal finds it very rewarding to transfer insurance knowledge and skills to his colleagues.

25 October 2019 | People

Evany van Wyk







Every morning when Ian de Waal, the founding member and chief operating officer (COO) of King Price Insurance Namibia, walks into the office, he makes himself a cup of coffee and then starts grafting.

It’s not long before he cracks a joke or tells a funny story to lighten things up.

“I find it very useful, because in that moment all of us forget about our stress, and when we get back to what we’re working on, we’re in a better mood and the work is better,” De Waal said.

September 2016 was the start of a new adventure for De Waal when he and two other partners launched King Price Insurance in Namibia. Admittedly, although the strategy they undertook was challenging, the journey has been a lot of fun and very rewarding.

“We have had to work very hard and smart to go up against the established insurance giants in the country,” De Waal said.

But hard work and the right business model pays off.

“The day our gross written premium reached N$100 000 000 and we had over 8 000 happy clients enjoying their monthly decreasing premiums, I realised we’re onto something big,” he explained excitedly.

And all of that in only three years! De Waal is a firm believer that attitude equals altitude. “With the right attitude you can accomplish anything. Reach for the stars, but be mindful of the ceiling,” he added.

Upliftment and job creation remain an important part of the company’s culture, as it strives to employ mostly Namibians.

They spend a lot of time and effort on ensuring that employees gain as many skills as possible, while at the same time making King Price the best in the business.

“I’ve learnt that people start off as colleagues and usually end up being more of a family,” said De Waal.

“I know that we’ve achieved this goal when clients inform me that they have never seen so many happy people under one roof.”

As a child, De Waal wanted to become a fireman or policeman.

“Today, instead of putting out fires and saving lives, I save a lot of people money with their premiums and help extinguish their proverbial ‘financial fires’,” he explained.

After matriculating, De Waal went to study at the University of Stellenbosch towards his BCom degree in marketing management, and ended up working in the insurance industry. As an underwriter, he was able to attend several workshops and training seminars presented by well-known and established firms in the global short-term insurance industry. “One of these workshops was presented by Munich Re, the largest reinsurer in the world. Today, they are not only our reinsurer, but also one of our shareholders,” he said.

The success of King Price is thanks to a lot of focus being put into ensuring that everyone gets a good deal and great service.

“My goal for King Price is that within the two years we will have strategically positioned the company in the minds of the consumers as the go-to insurance company in Namibia. Low premiums, hassle-free claims and making insurance fun,” De Waal added.

As they always say, the only way to do great work is to love the work you do.

De Waal says that helping fellow Namibians save some moolah and making sure that, in the event of a loss, accident or an unforeseen misfortune they are insured correctly, is what makes him love his job.

“I also find it very rewarding to transfer insurance knowledge and skills to my colleagues. Teach a man to fish and you've fed him for a lifetime.”

De Waal fun facts

· He can’t sleep with long pyjamas.

· He says nothing beats a cold beer, biltong and a Rugby World Cup game, or any rugby match for that matter.

· He enjoys watching documentaries.

· He grows, nurtures and prunes his own bonsai trees from seeds.

· He loves getting home, entering his house and being overwhelmed with hugs and kisses from his kids. Or dancing ridiculously with them.

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