Medical insurers have made an about-turn on footing bills for policy holders who contract the deadly coronavirus, hours after the first case was reported in Kenya.
The industry regulator, Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA), says it has agreed with the insurers’ lobby to cover people who get infected with the Covid-19 that was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday.
IRA said in a statement that it had held engagement with Association of Kenya Insurers (AKI) chief executive Tom Gichuhi and agreed that insured victims will be covered.
“The public is hereby assured that the insurance companies will continue to provide their services to policy holders affected or infected with the virus,” said IRA.
This comes a day after AKI said the classification of the disease as a pandemic meant that it was excluded from coverage. This would have seen insured patients pay for treatment using their own money or depend on government.
But the U-turn now means insurers have now offered window to cover a pandemic, which by standard insurance practice, is typically excluded from covers.
“This consideration has been arrived at in support of the government’s mitigation measures aimed at minimising exposure to policy holders and beneficiaries,” explained IRA.
Kenya is on a high alert after a woman who travelled back to the country from US via London tested positive for the virus, forcing government to ban all public gatherings, unnecessary travels to affected countries and prison visits.
Globally, more than 130,000 people have been infected causing close to 5,000 deaths, according to WHO data.
Insurers usually put exclusion clause on pandemics and epidemics to shield themselves from very high premiums.
Mr Gichuhi had on Thursday warned that a fast spread of the disease in the country could pose premium nightmares to insurers, with risk of driving them out of business.