Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Global Hail: Kenya

Kericho, Kenya is said to be the most hail-prone place in the world and has up to fifty days of hail each year. Kericho is close to the equator and at an elevation of 7,200 feet, which contributes to it being a hot spot for hail. Other areas of the country have experienced a few notable hailstorms as well. One of these storms occurred in 2010, along with flooding and landslides, and attributed to the deaths of 93 people and displaced over 69,000. Another storm occurred in 2013 throughout Ol Kalou. The 2013 storm was deemed a “freak hailstorm” that hit Busara, covering a large portion of the region in a sheet of solid ice.

Hailstorms are especially devastating in areas such as Kenya because most Kenyans work in farming, creating significant growth potential for climate risk and agricultural coverage. After the 2013 hailstorm, for instance, tea farmers (which are part of a multi-billion-dollar industry in Kenya) lost over 12,890 kilograms of tea in a single day. Kenyan farmers would be wise to seek insurance coverage and protect themselves from histories repeated.

Second to South Africa, Kenya is the best-regulated insurance market in the region, accounting for seventy-percent of the East African insurance industry. Kenya is also one of the most developed African countries and maintains steady economic growth. According to the World Economic Forum, higher income directly correlates with a competitive insurance market. As of 2016, Kenya has forty-nine insurers and five re-insurers. However, the African insurance market could face bouts of disarray over the next few years stemming from the 2016 regulatory amendments to Insurance Act No. 487 of 1984. Essentially, the new regulations almost double companies’ capital investment requirements, and many underwriting companies (majority of which are family-owned) may be unable to meet them.

Despite these regulatory changes, Kenya’s insurance market has potential for growth. This is likely due in part to the fact that Kenyan farmers continue to excel as prominent exporters of goods (such as tea), and in turn, the need for property and/or agricultural insurance grows as well. As of 2015, the population size of Kenya was 44.9 million. However, according to recent statistics, property and/or casualty insurance only comprises less than thirty-percent of the non-life insurance market. While the imminent legislative changes may bring temporary chaos, the Kenyan insurance market is ripe for growth.

Posted by Jennifer Gibbs and Victoria Vish