The Kenyan insurance market – My wish list

By Jeremy Clayton

Well, I have now entered my 5th year in this insurance market, having spent 33 years in the UK market. Now, those of you that know me are of course ‘shocked’ by this, and probably asking yourself ‘with those youthful looks how can someone so young be in the business for that length of time?’ On the other hand, you might just think… ‘he looks that old’ and ‘is he past his best?’ Whatever your thoughts, there’s no question, I’ve seen the best and worst of both markets and I feel I am well placed to pass comment and make a wish list for things that I believe will improve this industry.

Firstly, it is a fact that the Kenyan insurance market is, compared to the UK market, in it’s infancy still. Despite that, it is moving forwards quickly, it is adopting strict regulation, it has many excellent Insurers and, whilst there is still the public’s view that ‘Insurers will do anything not to pay a claim’, I think this is a misnomer. From what I have experienced, Insurers here are like any other market… if it is covered and covered accurately, then they will settle… if it is not, then they will consider their position. That’s fair and not unreasonable, but the feeling seems to be ‘they’re all the same’.

Of course, there are still issues and, whilst it is difficult to change things in my position, I have worked with some forward-thinking Insurers who are looking to develop things and bring new products to market. Our regulator, the Insurance Regulatory Authority, appears to welcome innovation and have embraced and encouraged some of the new products that JW Seagon have brought to market and long may that continue.

So, what are the issues that the market face and what are my wishes? I will not get involved in things like ‘capital adequacy’ and ‘reserving practises’…not only is it complex but also I will probably lose any interest you had in this article, before I type the next word! I will instead deal with the things that I believe may affect you and I ‘wish’ will be addressed.

My wish list:

  • Regulation. This covers a multitude of issues, from monitoring insurance premiums collection to ensuring the industry acts ethically. The Regulations are there, but we hear of many instances of these regulations being breached and the concern is, those breaching are potentially causing damage to our industry. The Regulator cannot be everywhere and so it is down to all of us to try to bring any discrepancies to their attention, but the market must be confident that action will be taken.
  • Policy Wordings. At JW Seagon, we have developed our own policy wordings that are tried and tested and our partners have adopted. Unfortunately, many Insurers still have outdated wordings and clients can be exposed at the time of a loss. We encourage action to be taken that Insurers review all policies and move forwards with modern, extensive wordings.
  • Arbitration. During my time here, I have spoken to many policyholders of other Brokers or Insurers who have had their claims declined by their Insurers. Upon looking, I have come to the conclusion that some claims are being repudiated on very flimsy ground, and, whilst some policies have an ‘arbitration’ clause, the process seems to be cumbersome and long winded. At a seminar last year, I learned that there is an ‘Ombudsman’ in Kenya and certain disputes will be ruled on by said organisation. Unfortunately, to this day, I have learned nothing more and my wish is for our industry to provide more information, ideally have a designated insurance department and ensure that the process to rule on disputes is simple and efficient.

So in summary, an exciting market to be in, moving forwards but carefully, and hopefully my ‘wish list’ will come to something.