2 million insured
10 million lives protected

Why Mutual?

Mutual and cooperative insurers (hereafter referred to as “mutuals”) are different from stock insurers; they are owned by, governed by and operated solely in the interests of their customers/members. They are ideally positioned to help solve many of the world’s most pressing socio-economic problems, from enabling economic development in both the richest and poorest countries of the world, through to helping societies prepare for the effects of natural disasters and environmental change.

Mutuals are suited for delivering microinsurance because:

Member ownership: Mutual and cooperative insurers are owned by their members who participate in the governance and long-term success of the organisation.

Holistic livelihood approach: Mutuals do not only provide insurance but take a holistic approach to the members’ welfare, by providing risk prevention and loss services, as well as education and community empowerment.  

Needs-based: The needs of the policyholder are more accurately identified due to the close proximity the mutual has with its members and ensures an inclusive approach.

Not-for-profit: Costs are kept low and profits are reinvested back as benefits to members.

Long term approach: Mutuals do not have the short-term profile pressures that commercial companies have and are more able to make more long-term, value-based investments and strategies.

Track record of success: Mutual insurance has been in existence for centuries. Today, mutual and cooperative insurers represent 27% of the total global insurance market (2015). There are over 5,000 mutual and cooperative insurers worldwide, they serve almost a billion members and employ over a million people.

Empowering the individual: Members are provided with the opportunity to participate in the decision making process and product development which can impact upon their livelihoods.

Community-based: Trust is generated by strong community relationships, leading to a greater commitment by members.

Solidarity concept: The mutual model is prevalent as a risk-sharing mechanism in the informal sector.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are almost 100 ICMIF member companies in emerging markets. They are located in just under 50 emerging market countries.

Mutual and cooperative insurers have been significantly outperforming the rest of the insurance sector in the period since the global financial crisis of 2007-8. The period between 2007 and 2015 has seen premium income for the world’s mutual and cooperative insurers grow by 30%, compared to 14% for the insurance market as a whole. The global insurance market share held by cooperatives and mutuals now stands at 27.0% in 2015.

Download the ICMIF Global Mutual Market Share report

Insurance for low-income populations, or microinsurance, is now firmly accepted as an integral tool for poverty alleviation and building resilience in communities against natural and man-made disasters. Recent global initiatives recognizing the importance of risk management for disaster relief include the UN Sendai Agreement on Disaster Risk and Resilience, the G7 Climate Risk Insurance Initiative ‘InsuResilience’ and the Climate Change Summit, COP21.

Mutual microinsurance can specifically assist with at least five of the SDGs namely Goals One, Three, Four, Five and 13:

  • GOAL 1 NO POVERTY: Will help people escape the vicious cycle of poverty and provide a safety net to vulnerable communities
  • GOAL 3 GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING: In addition to increasing access to health insurance, will focus on health prevention and access to quality healthcare.
  • GOAL 4 QUALITY EDUCATION: Financial literacy training forms part of each of our projects 
  • GOAL 5 GENDER EQUALITY: Will positively impact on women who are most often the policyholders of a mutual microinsurance provider.
  • GOAL 13 CLIMATE ACTION: The target communities of the 5-5-5 Strategy are the most vulnerable to climate change.


Mutual microinsurance refers to pro-active efforts at providing insurance services to low-income or marginalised groups in a manner where they participate in the design, development, management and governance of such products, services or institutions.

Source: ICMIF Development Committee

Cooperative and mutual insurers are owned by, governed by and operated solely in the interests of their customers/members.

Source: ICMIF Global Manifesto