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Insurance now available via phones

NAIROBI, September 19 – The number of Kenyans having access to affordable and accessible insurance covers is set to increase in the coming months following the introduction of an insurance product that can be bought via the mobile phone.

Kenya Orient Insurance on Friday launch the 24-hour personal accident cover dubbed ‘Safari Bima’ where customers will be required to subscribe through the Short Message Service (SMS). The cover would be valid for 24 hours and the insured is required to send SMS everyday to enjoy the cover.

“Insurance cannot be taken for granted because tragedy may strike when you least expect and one needs to be prepared.  The product can be accessed at anytime from whenever you are through your mobile phone. This is about insurance going to the people,” said the company’s General Manger Virginia Magondu.

Speaking during the launch, Magondu explained that customers would be charged Sh30 per day for the SMS service which entitles them to a cover of Sh100, 000. The charge is deducted from the airtime.

She said users will be required to send an SMS with their particular details such as the national identity number, cell phone numbers and the name of their beneficiaries to 8808.

To access the product, she added, customers will need to send the ID No#beneficiary mobile number#name of beneficiary to 8808.

“For example: 123456#072000000#John and send it to 8808,” she explained.

Magondu noted that the phone had increasingly progressed from being a mere communication tool to an attractive facilitator for transactions and the industry should use it to increase the insurance penetration rates in the country.

“The mobile phone has become the ultimate source of accessing information, sending and receiving money, reading news, paying bills and now accessing affordable insurance products,” she added.

She emphasized that the product would also help demystify the negative perception that the public had about the industry and help make insurance available to the lower segment of the market.

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“Kenya Orient wants to demystify the notion that insurance is only for those who can afford,” says Magondu.

Speaking during the same function Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA) Technical Manager Agnes Ndirangu urged players to be innovative and develop products that can attract the ordinary citizens.

Ndirangu noted that the sector had contributed to economic development by assisting in the mobilization of savings and the provision of security to people against a multiple of risks.

In 2006, the sector contributed about 2.5 percent to the country’s GDP which is a insignificant figure compared to 16 percent posted by South Africa’s insurance industry.

“We still have not reached many more Kenyans with affordable products but we believe that the industry can benefit from the economic progress as more Kenyans are able to afford disposable income,” she added.

The manager revealed that they IRA had established a research and development department that would help them to address the impediments that hinder the growth of the market.

IRA – whose board members were inaugurated in December 2007 – replaced the office of the Commissioner of Insurance following the enactment of the Insurance (Amendment) Act 2006.


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