Kenyan Alliance Insurance Company – Kenya’s Future Protected

With roots going back a century, the Kenyan Alliance Insurance Company Ltd., one of the largest companies in its sector in Kenya, is ready to grow together with the country.

The Kenyan Alliance Insurance is one of the most financially sound composite insurance companies in Kenya, with an asset base in excess of ksh 6.8 billion and paid-up capital of ksh 700 million. As a composite insurance company, the organisation deals in the General Insurance, Life and Pensions and Healthcare businesses.

“We are one of the oldest established insurance companies in the country, operating since 1916, and one of the few wholly-owned private insurance companies in Kenya with no external shareholder,” CEO Simon McCrum describes the business.

He himself came to Kenya in August last year, in the middle of the global pandemic, to take the company further. With a sound background in insurance stretching back over 34 years, and wide-ranging experience in international business, he has a clear idea of Kenyan Alliance’s direction under his management:

“Expanding the client base in a country where a minimum of the population is using insurance services, with the help of technology, is my vision for the near future.”

 A century of tradition

 The Kenyan Alliance Insurance Company Ltd traces its roots back to the early beginnings of the 20th century when its predecessors, Sun Insurance Office and Alliance Assurance Company based in the UK, established an agency representation in Kenya in 1915. Later, as the business grew, the company opened branches and ceased to operate through agency representation.

In the early sixties the two operations merged worldwide and started to trade in Kenya as ‘Sun Alliance’ still through branch representation. In 1980, The Kenyan Alliance Insurance Company, incorporated with the sole purpose of taking over Sun Alliance group operations, started to write a new chapter in the company’s history, that has continued until the present day.

The company is part of a large family-owned group of companies with a wide range of businesses, and is dedicated to become one of the leading regional insurance providers of all General, Life and Healthcare Insurance coupled with the highest degrees of customer utility.

“We are one of the very few composite insurance companies in Kenya, meaning that we have the licence to write general insurance, life insurance and health insurance. With an extensive branch network across the while country, employing some 300 within the group, we envisage ourselves as first-class insurance providers through partnerships with the most solid yet advanced international reinsurance partners,” says Simon McCrum.

The key factor

As in almost any area of life, the core element of achieving this objective is human capital. Simon McCrum affirms that the company is well aware of the value of its staff and makes sure that they are well cared for as well as provided with the right tools to be able to perform their tasks to their best knowledge and abilities.

“Training is one of the basis aspects of people development within any organisation. There is a very wide programme in place across the whole group in terms of education and training, and short training courses are conducted once a week for all employees – these are all virtual and focused on products and marketing as well as corporate governance.”

“We also have sponsorship programmes across the group to support those who wish to take insurance qualifications. The scheme extends to people who wish to attend business-related courses or achieve qualifications in accounting, marketing and similar.”

The value of staff became even more prominent last year during the pandemic, and employees’ health and safety has been a top priority, although Mr McCrum notes that Covid19 has not impacted the country as much as other parts of the world, despite the fact that the vaccination rate is very low.

He points out that the company not only looks after its own people but strives to support the wider community at various levels. Education is one of them.

“I’m a huge believer in education; it is a gift you can give to a child that no one else can take away. To this end, we have just started a bursary scheme for children from disadvantaged backgrounds to sponsor them through their higher education. We bear all the costs, provide a small living allowance and after their three-year course offer them a job. We have two students at the moment and there will be 6 each year once the programme has been running for longer.”

In addition, the company actively supports children with special needs and disabilities, providing supplies of food and other necessities such as wheelchairs and clothing, and reviewing the support on a monthly basis.

Hidden opportunities

Speaking about the challenges, Simon McCrum makes it clear that the old cliché still applies – the future is all about people, business-wise and country-wise. “The large issue is of course that the purchase level is extremely low, as insurance penetration is very small, with only 1-2% of the population buying any type of insurance at all, compared to developed markets where the figure is about 30%.”

“This is for many reasons, both historical and demographic, but is to a large extent the result of the lack of education. Trying to educate people about the benefits of insurance, in a low-income country with a lack of market innovations, is a huge challenge.”

He affirms that expanding the customer base is his prime task for the future, and he believes that a lot can be achieved with modern technologies, that are second nature to young people, including young Kenyans.

“There are hundreds of very good examples of how technology can be used in insurance. We have an incredible online platform, simplifying the claims and payment processes, and I’m very keen on bringing new ways of operating into the Kenyan market, on placing Kenya at the forefront of modern technology use.”

Despite the challenges, the market also has a hidden promise. “The East-African region – specifically Kenya but also the surrounding countries – with its stable jurisdictions and young, dynamic population, definitely offers exciting opportunities. Opportunities to be exploited,” Simon McCrum concludes.

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