Equity insurance unit jumps to fourth slot in market share

Equity CEO James Mwangi on January 7, 2024.

Photo credit: Photo | Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

Equity Group's life insurance subsidiary has tripled its market share to become the fourth-largest long-term underwriter in Kenya in its second year of operation.

The latest Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA) data shows Equity Life Assurance Kenya, which Equity Group owns fully through Equity Group Insurance Holdings, closed the year ended December 2023 with a market share of 8.7 percent to become the fourth largest life insurer in the country.

The IRA data shows Equity Life’s market share jumped from 2.97 percent at the end of 2022 when it was ranked 11 out of the 24 long-term insurers in Kenya. Long-term or life insurance firms offer products such as life insurance, annuities and investments.

Equity Life has pushed Kenindia Life to the fifth position even as the top three positions remained unchanged. Britam Life Assurance remained the leader with its market share growing to 21.5 percent from 20.2 percent, followed by ICEA Lion Life Assurance whose market share hit 16.2 percent from 14.7 percent.

Jubilee Insurance Company closed the period with a market share of 10.2 percent, being third based on gross written premiums.

Kenindia grew its market share to 6.6 percent from 6.3 percent despite the drop in position.

The top five life insurers commanded a market share of 63.2 percent, leaving the rest of the 19 firms with a combined market share of 36.8 percent.

Equity Life’s gross written premium grew 3.5 times to hit Sh14.79 billion last year from Sh4.18 percent in 2022, driven by deposit administration business.

Deposit administration is a pension plan administered by a life insurance company. Last year was the first time for Equity Life to offer deposit administration and it attracted Sh12.02 billion, overtaking the rest of the insurers on this product.

Equity’s Sh12.02 billion deposits under its administration were more than that of ICEA Lion Life (Sh11 billion), Jubilee (Sh8.86 billion) and Britam Life (Sh8.06 billion) who had been leading on this product.

On the credit life business, which involves insuring against the risk of customers defaulting on loans due to death or injury, Equity registered a drop to Sh2.3 billion from Sh3.84 billion but remained second to CIC Life (Sh5.1 billion).

Equity Group’s insurance subsidiary joined the insurance market in 2022, promising “affordable, innovative and accessible” products in a market where penetration of life insurance is low.

The life or long-term insurance business in Kenya has seven classes— deposit administration, personal pension, life assurance, group life, group credit, annuities and investments— which combined hit Sh170.02 billion gross premiums from Sh140.84 billion.

Equity had for more than 10 years learnt the ropes of insurance as a bancassurance agent before directly entering into the life business where 68.9 percent of the gross premiums are in the hands of seven insurers.

Many commercial banks are increasingly chipping at Kenya insurers’ market through greenfield licences, acquisitions and bancassurance, putting to test the sustainability of underwriters without the financial capacity to innovate.

NCBA Group is working on fully acquiring AIG Kenya Insurance, becoming the latest lender to position itself for part of the insurance revenues in a market where penetration is below three percent.

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Note: The results are not exact but very close to the actual.