Birthed by the merging of several insurance companies, Kenindia has established itself as the trend setter in the insurance industry
By Catherine Kuria
In 1978, foreign companies that were operating here in Kenya were required to register locally because of the change in regulation. It was during this time that several Indian companies decided to come together and were joined by some local shareholders to birth Kenindia Assurance Company Limited. The companies were New India Insurance Company, Oriental insurance Company and United India Insurance Company.
Since then, the shareholding in the company has remained the same. Kenindia deals with life and general insurance and it has continued to delight customers by identifying and offering tailor made products to suit their needs. Over the years it has grown and made remarkable milestones. In 1996 it became the first general insurance company to register a premium income of Kshs. 2 billion. In addition to that, in 2007 it made history once again by being the first to register a growth of Kshs. 3 billion.
The company recently celebrated its 40th anniversary by holding an anniversary dinner and lighting fireworks to set the mood. Its supporters, partners, middlemen, agencies and clients joined in the festivities to mark this huge milestone. Mr. James Macharia, the Chief Operations Officer, Kenindia says: “In as much as we are celebrating, we are also looking into the future. We are actively working on a growth strategy for the company. This is just but a short term goal that we are aiming to achieve by the year 2021.”
The company is looking to grow its gross premiums to Kshs. 12 billion and go beyond that. In the year 2003, it started a company in Tanzania called Tanzindia. Tanzindia has since grown to become the leading insurance company in Tanzania. Majority of the shares in Tanzindia are owned by Kenindia. This is because it had to bring on board local shareholders from Tanzania as required by the law in that country.
Kenindia has 13 branches in the country; four of them are in Nairobi while the rest are spread out across the country. “We are already in Tanzania and are still exploring growth within the other East African countries. We however don’t have a specific timeline for establishing ourselves there. But what we said is that we want to consolidate in Kenya and Tanzania before we venture into other countries,” notes Mr. Macharia.
As part of its growth strategy, the company is looking at expanding its distribution channels. It is also revising the products that it offers so that it can be able to reach out to the bigger population in Kenya. Moreover, its pension product has had the most returns in the market for a long period of time. It has previously been recognized as having the best returns consistently for over 10 years. This is Kenindia’s greatest strength in business.
On general business, it has also been very strong on fire insurance in terms of insuring businesses against the risk of fire especially factories. Its fire insurance and marine insurance covers have been doing exemplary well in the market. He adds: “We are looking on building on this while also expanding in other areas. That is why we launched our new life product recently which is basically a funeral expenses cover. We should be open to individuals as well as groups.”
The new cover is a standalone funeral product. The company is providing the cover for people between the ages of 18 to 65 years who can be principle members. Additionally, the cover can be extended to two parents and two parent in-laws. It is premium payable and can also be paid in installments or annually. The idea was to make this new product affordable to everybody. If there is no claim of the policy for five years and nobody has died, the company will give back 30% of the total premiums paid.
The company is very strong financially and does not need external financial aid to kick start its projects. Moreover, it has the strong backing of its shareholders. It is currently working on rejuvenating its travel insurance policy. With regards to that, it is actively working on availing its products online by the end of next year. “We installed new systems for both life and general insurance which now makes it easier for our clients to process their covers. Most importantly we have an intermediary portal that makes it easy for our intermediaries to look for information without even having to call us,” he asserts.
The main reason that Kenindia has maintained its traditional product is because if you previously looked at most companies, their target market would have been said to be the middle and high income group. There aren’t that many products that are geared towards the mass market. It is however doing what needs to be done in order to increase its penetration in this market niche.
As part of its 40th anniversary activities, Kenindia has already started engaging with the millenials in the streets across the country. It is looking at the products that interests and best suits their needs. These products range from investments and education policies. He adds: “Kenindia has the best products in the market for that. We have also stared a digital campaign on social media because that is where the millenials are. We have revolutionized our services in order to keep up with the changes in technology.”
In an award ceremony held by the Institute of Pension Management last year, Kenindia was awarded for being the best improved insurance company of the year. Its move now is towards policies that are clear and direct. This is where the policy document is something that you can be able to read and understand without any hidden mind set. In terms of educating the public, that is something that the company has taken upon itself to do. It shall be conducting this in its media platforms. Mr. Macharia halts by saying: “As an industry we are working on educating the public together. Members of the public lack knowledge about various insurance covers and we are looking to solving this challenge. It is our responsibility to offer our clients the best and that is exactly what we will continue doing.”