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Nyong’o urges Insurance Authority to rein in unscrupulous agents

The Kisumu Governor Prof. Anyang Nyong’o has urged the Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA) to rein in unscrupulous insurance companies, brokers and agents.

He observed that many Kenyans pay premiums every month, daily or annually but have very little knowledge of on operations of the insurance industry and end up losing their money to brokers.

“Several Kenyans have lost their hard-earned cash to fake insurance brokers, unprofessional lawyers and corrupt ambulance chasers just because they lack the prerequisite knowledge on insurance policies,’’ Nyong’o decried in a speech read on his behalf by the Deputy Governor Dr.Mathew Owili during the official launch of the Kisumu County Insurance Open Day held at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Sports Ground.

According to the County boss, the State regulator must be vigilant as con men and con women are prowling the sector and are trying to take advantage of lack of knowledge on issues pertaining to insurance to rob innocent members of the public.

To save the insurance industry, he suggested that the IRA should now sharpen their knives and cut to smithereens the rogue players in it. He added that the authority should seize this moment and demystify the simple terms, and the intricacies of the insurance sector.

The IRA staff, Nyong’o pointed out, must create awareness for those who have limited knowledge of insurance on the difference between life,non-life and Re-Insurance. The people ought to be educated on terms such as Risk Managers, Insurance Brokers and Motor Assessments.

“How, for example, how should a common mwananchi differentiate between a genuine and a fake motor vehicle insurance sticker?’’ he wondered.

He urged the people of Kisumu to take up insurance and to stop viewing it as a -nice-to-have-easy-to-discard product, as he further appealed to IRA to organize more outreaches and awareness campaigns.

Official government records indicate a moderate growth trajectory for the insurance industry with general insurance dominating the market at about 60 percent. Despite economic hard times ignited by COVID-19, market dynamics show that there is an increase in uptake of insurance in the country.

Prof Nyong’o lauded IRA for creating a rare chance for government agencies to market their vast services to the people of Kisumu and the region. The Open Day, he continued, is of great economic importance to the residents as the lessons learnt especially in insurance relations will result in life-changing financial decisions.

While recalling that a similar exercise was organized by the State Authority in 2021, Nyong’o stressed that he regards such occasions as very educative, and important social and economic gatherings which should be held for longer periods (3-4 days). The large turn-out by the residents is a clear testimony that through education they will make informed decisions on insurance.           

Geoffrey Kiptum, IRA CEO and the Board thanked the county for accepting to partner with it in organizing and gracing the occasion.

“IRA was established in 2007 and its mandate is to regulate, supervise and internalize the insurance industry. Currently, we have 56 licensed insurance companies operating as a group or single representation,’’ said Kiptum in a speech read on his behalf by Abel Matoke, Senior Manager for Consumer Education (IRA).

In Kisumu County, he said, 25 licensed insurance companies have employed the local people to empower the region’s economy and the country at large. In addition, IRA has brokers as part of the team and has so far licensed five Reinsurance companies across the country. 

He further divulged that in the insurance industry, the IRA is ranked fifth in Africa and continues to play a critical role in the region.

Some of the challenges facing IRA is the low uptake of insurance and penetration which is attributed to negative perceptions and publicity. To allay these fears, the State agency has been at the forefront of creating awareness among the people.

“Our agencies are offering various insurance products such as health, education, and motor in the market. Kisumu County is number five on the roll in terms of insurance business in the country after Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru and Kiambu,’’ Kiptum explained.

IRA have rolled out similar events to educate the citizenry in Mombasa, and their next pitch will be Nakuru. Prof. Nyong’o encouraged them to open their offices in all of the 47 counties.

Over 33 stakeholders from the insurance and public sector were present to showcase their services. IRA is using the Open Day as a strategic approach to enhance consumer education, awareness and understanding of insurance by the citizens

By Rolex Omondi

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