23 November 2012

Kenya: Reinsurance Seeks Foreign Firm for Drilling Covers

KENYA Reinsurance is looking for an international insurer to back up its business in the gas and oil drilling sector which it hopes to venture into within a year's time.

Kenya Re boss Jadiah Mwaraniah said the firm is gearing up to offer covers in the oil exploration business and is currently undergoing training. Mwarania said it will look to firms such as Lloyds of London, Munich Re and Swiss Re for insurance against the oil and gas risk covers.

"No African firm is offering this cover and business is being exported quietly," said Mwarania. Since the announcment by President Mwai Kibaki in March that Kenya has sttuck oil, there has been growing interest from international exploration firms that want to operate in the country.

However the oil exploration firms' insurance business is taken by international undewriters. He added that the firm wants to be identified with emerging classes of business to sustain growth.

'We want to supply the products the market is asking for," added Mwarania. Aside from the oil and gas business, the Kenya Re boss said the firm has also put in place a Shariah advisory board to offer guidance on takaful reinsurance, an insurance type operated based on Islamic laws.

Kenya Re, which operates in 70 countries, gets an estimated 45 per cent of its business from Kenya. Meanwhile, Mwaraniah has faulted the new industry guidelines for reinsurance by the Insurance Regulatory Authority.

Mwarania said that while the directive is well intended, the reality on the ground will make it impractical. The new guidelines, which are set to be implemented starting January, stipulate that insurance firms get approval from their in-house actuary before terminating a reinsurance contract.

"There are 45 insurance companies in Kenya, but we dont have 45 actuaries, the qualified actuaries are very few." noted Mwarania. Mwarania was speaking on Wednesday evening at a cocktail hosted for insurance firm CEOs.

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