Nairobi — It is now emerging that many people whose property was destroyed during the Westgate mall attack on September 21 may not be compensated by their insurers.
According to the Association of Kenya Insurers CEO Tom Gichuhi, only a handful business owners and motorists may have insured their property against terrorism.
Speaking to Capital FM Business Gichuhi maintained that any property destroyed during the incident falls under terrorism.
"You cannot say that my vehicle was damaged by a roof that caved in. While that is true, the insurance company will ask you what caused this roof to cave in. Somebody will tell you, it was blasted by terrorists. So the proximate cause is terror attack," Gichuhi said.
Hundreds of vehicles were destroyed especially after part of the roof at the packing area of Westgate mall collapsed.
Some of shops owners have also claimed that most of the items in their shops were stolen by unknown people who took advantage of the confusion that arose after the attack.
Gichuhi has however urged the insurance companies to work closely with the affected clients and try to compensate them out of good will.
"The insurance company would want to go out of its way and compensate you on what we call ex gratia basis. That is, paying you not because you had an insurance cover but maybe because you have a good business relationship with the insurance company," he noted.
Gichuhi says currently there are close to 15 insurance companies offering terrorism covers product cover out of 46 of them a number that he says may go up in the near future.
"Insurance is not one of those things that people go out there looking for. So people tend to be reactive. Customers are not likely to buy insurance products for things which do not happen often. For motorists you will find them buying covers against accidents or loss of their cars, because they see these things happening often," he pointed out.
He however says there was need for insurance firms to come out and try to be friendlier to customers by ensuring that they pay claims with less bureaucracy and also have incentives for long-time customers.
"We need to tell Kenyans that when you buy an insurance cover and the incident that you wanted to protect yourself against does not happen in one year, don't cancel your policy because it may not happen this year, but it could happen next year."
"Insurance is simply buying a promise; protecting you for something that may happen in the future. And this is hard to convince," he says.