26 November 2012

Kenya: Insurance Agents Number Low - IRA

THE country needs a minimum of 10,000 insurance sales agents to be able to impact the industry's growth massively, it has emerged.

There are currently about 3000 agents licensed by the Insurance Regulatory Authority and the organisation has said that this number is still way too low if market penetration is to be improved from the current 3 per cent.

"If we are talking about reaching the mass market, no doubt we have to promote the development and growth of the sales force," said IRA chief executive Sammy Makove on Saturday.

He was speaking in Kitui during a graduation ceremony of 107 sales agents who have been trained under a new programme by IRA and the College of Insurance which seeks to recruit insurance sales people at the grassroot level.

Makove said the programme will entail training of about 100 agents for each of the 47 counties to serve insurance firms from their home areas. Immediately after the graduation, the new sales agents were given licenses to operate.

Kitui was the first county to benefit from the training programme. Several insurance firms among them APA, Jubilee and CIC pitched camp at the event ready to sign contracts with the new agents, a move that signaled the high demand agents in rural towns have.

"To train an agent is an expensive affair because one must also do COP (certificate of proficiency) test and the training could cost between 100,000 and 200,000 per agent...you may find that out of 10 that perhaps a company may train at a time, it is only able to retain three in the long run," noted Makove.

Adding that it is because of the high cost and the time involved that most insurance firms do not have as many agents as they would want to, hence the need for IRA to step in to save the industry.

Chairman of Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Kitui County Wilson Muema said the agents would help businesses in the area understand the need for insurance and also access it easily.

"The Kitui business people did not have people who could sell to them insurance properly and according to the law and I can tell you there are many businesses in Kitui and a huge potential for the insurance industry here," commented Muema.

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