Outgoing British envoy challenges insurance to be more innovative

By: JAMES KARIUKI

Outgoing British High Commissioner Chris Turner on Tuesday challenged insurance companies to innovate products that target the majority of Kenyans.

He said Kenyans have proved to be quick learners.

“I do not like this thinking that nothing works in Kenya. I have heard it before that in Kenya nothing works even traffic jams, graft, business but when you look at M-Pesa’s growth, even my relatives back home in Britain cannot understand a thing on money flowing through a mobile phone platform.

“Kenya has great innovators who could be tasked with coming up with an insurance product that meets the need of the mass market and it is time we stopped saying nothing is possible in Kenya.

“I have lived here and I know Kenyans are great people when it becomes to business,” he said.

The High Commissioner spoke when he participated in a panel discussion at Serena Hotel in Nairobi where Prudential Life Insurance launched its study dubbed, “Life Insurance markets in Sub-Saharan Africa – Capturing the benefits for economic development.”

The report, authored by Overseas Development Institute’s researcher, Dr Judith Tyson, found an urgent need at addressing the poor perception of life insurance which was associated with death, a taboo topic in most Kenyan communities.

EASE REGULATION

She said the government needs to urgently ease regulation to foster uptake of life insurance policies, saying this could create cheap funds for infrastructural development unlike the foreign source funding that was costly and usually led to heavy taxation.

Acting World Bank country head, Dr Jane Kiringai, urged the insurance industry to adopt the technological changes to come up with products fit for the mass market.

“Insurance companies must come up with innovative products that are popular with the market. No customer wants to put their money on a product that takes long periods to give returns.

“Banks have annual interest payments, treasury bills start at three months to five years. What about insurance?” she posed.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION