Kenyan homeowners start seeking flood insurance

Flooded Graceland Estate

Flooded Graceland Estate in Athi River on April 24, 2024, after heavy rainfall overnight.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

Your home is probably your biggest asset, but home insurance is rarely on the list of first-rate insurance policies.

Aloice Owino, a homeowner in Nairobi, says it is better to be safe than sorry. When Mr Owino bought his house in Thindigua in Kiambu County four years ago, he took out a home insurance policy.

It was all part of Mr Owino's plan when he started working for an international company that required him to be away most of the time.

"I have taken it out because I need to be sure that my wife and children will be safe and secure even when I am away from home. It does not mean that I am on the lookout for a disaster, but it will protect me from potential financial burdens," he says.

Mr Owino tells BDLife that the home insurance policy provides cover for his house and belongings against the unexpected events of life.

"It covers me against damage from extreme weather, theft, fire and other losses," he adds.

Although the flooding and destruction from the El Niño rains did not cause any damage to his property, Mr Owino says he is glad to have the assurance of financial redemption that he has committed to.

Climate change has been the most fortunate contributor to the higher-than-average levels of weather camouflage. Lately, Kenya has been in the grip of relentless downpours as El Niño patterns have intensified seasonal rainfall in the past weeks.

These episodes of torrential rains hit different parts of the country including major cities. The number of people especially homeowners affected by the incessant rains that have caused flooding across the country is unimaginable. With damage to some homes, many are staring at huge repair or rebuilding costs.

Insurance consultants say that as a homeowner, it is a big gamble to stay without a home insurance policy.

Is there a need for the flood cover?

The uptake of flood insurance in Kenya is still very low but is finding a growing relevance as climate change takes its toll.

Fredrick Muchina, the Head General of Insurance at Zamara Group Kenya, says Kenyans should seriously consider taking out flood insurance due to the increasing frequency and severity of climate events in the country.

"With climate change exacerbating weather patterns, floods have become more frequent and unpredictable, causing significant damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure. From urban areas to rural communities, no region is immune to the devastating impact of floods. Therefore, having flood insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind in the face of such natural disasters," he tells BDLife.

Mr Muchina recommends that one of the main reasons Kenyans should consider purchasing flood insurance is to safeguard their homes and possessions.

"Floods can destroy property, causing extensive damage to buildings, furniture, appliances, and personal belongings. Without insurance coverage, people may struggle to recover, facing the daunting task of rebuilding their lives from scratch. By obtaining flood insurance, homeowners can mitigate the financial burden associated with flood damage and expedite the recovery process," he says.

Insurers say they have recorded a spike in the number of inquiries on flood insurance, following the heavy rains that led to deaths and massive destruction of property.

The cover is offered as a stand-alone product as well as a rider in other products such as property covers.

The Association of Kenya Insurers (AKI) says flood damage is part of the risks covered in most property policies.

"It is expected that a consequence of the floods will be a rise in claims. Many cars were flooded and properties were also damaged. Damage from floods is part of the risks covered in policies protecting assets," says Tom Gichuhi, the executive director of AKI.

Already, insurers such as Britam General Holdings have started increasing their focus on climate change-related risks.

"There has been a notable increase in product inquiries on flood insurance and we are in the process of closing the sales. Our solutions to most of these eventualities include our Fire and Peril, Home Insurance and our car insurance that also covers losses caused by floods," says Jackson Theuri, principal officer and CEO at Britam General Insurance,

Mr Muchina adds that flood insurance is not just a safety net for individuals it's also a crucial tool for economic resilience and sustainability in the face of climate-related challenges.

"Flood insurance can also benefit businesses by helping them mitigate potential losses and maintain continuity during and after flooding events. Business owners can protect their assets, inventory, and infrastructure, ensuring minimal disruption to operations and preserving their livelihoods. With the right insurance coverage, businesses can recover more swiftly, reduce financial strain, and focus on rebuilding and serving their communities," he says.

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