Hitech insurance hits Kenyan market

A cellphone -enabled personal accident insurance cover for death and permanent disability has been launched.

The Business Daily reported that the 24-hour cover for Sh100,000 is activated through SMS for Sh30 a day. The promoter, Kenya Orient Insurance Company, hopes the product will attract interest from tourists, locals going on long distance trips during Easter and end of year activities.

People engaged in outdoor ventures like mountain climbing ,mining and construction are also expected to find the product relevant. The premium is paid through a short message text (sms).

Once the company certifies the recipient of the payment, the beneficiary enjoys the cover for the next 24 hours. But the cover is only available to persons aged between 18 years and 80.

“Consumers want products that are available to them wherever they are. That is why we think it is innovative to use the mobile phone to revolutionise how insurance is sold in Kenya,” said Virginiah Magondu, Kenya Orient’s general manager.Permanent disability is defined as when a person is not able to engage in an occupation for which one is suited for by training, education, or experience because of an injury.

To qualify for compensation it has to be certified by a doctor. The new product pioneers the use of technology to enhance the penetration of insurance service.

Over 10 million Kenyans own mobile phones.It also eliminates the paperwork, brokers and sales agents associated with applying for an insurance product in Kenya, Orient said it will seek to market the product in rural areas where it will compete with more formal products.

If a person decides to have the cover every day through the Safari Bima product, they would pay about Sh900 a month or Sh10,800 per year for a sum assured of Sh100,000 in case of death or total disability.

However, an annual personal accident product offering sum assured of Sh500,000 in the case of death of permanent disability costs Sh5,000, which means one spends about half the amount on the premiums for a product that offers five times the benefit. Insurance industry analysts Boniface Kandie said the innovation in the product dubbed Safari Bima would be replicated by other companies.

“It may take time before we start mass insurance transaction using technology but it is surely a warning to agents that technology might soon edge them out of the supply chain.”

To buy the new product, users will send a message with their identification number, mobile phone number and name of the beneficiary to 8808.
Kenya Orient Insurance company is associated with Family Bank.

Its gross premium for the year 2007 grew by 24 per cent to Sh283.4 million from Sh219 million in 2006. Growth in assets was 47 per cent in the same period, from Sh300 million in 2006 to Sh442.7 million in 2007.


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