Mobile phone insurance growing in Kenya
17 December 2014, 08:21
Nairobi - Stuck in a traffic snarl-up along Waiyaki Way in Nairobi, Mildred Otieno was making a call on her mobile phone when someone forced open the window of her car, snatched the gadget and disappeared.
It happened in a flash that Otieno could not scream for help or get out of the car to follow the man. She sat in her car thinking about her mobile phone and all the contacts and documents she had lost.
"That phone was not even three months old. I had bought it at KES 57,000," recounted Otieno on Monday of the incident that happened last week.
However, unlike other people caught in such phone theft incidents that are common in Nairobi, Otieno was not worried about replacing her expensive gadget because she had insured it.
"I bought the device from a telecom and one of the incentives they were giving customers was subsidized insurance cover that one pays via mobile phone airtime. I took the offer because my previous phone had also been stolen," she said.
The banker is among an increasing number of Kenyans who have embraced mobile phone insurance as they seek to safeguard their gadgets from risks, particularly theft.
The form of insurance is picking up in the East African nation with the introduction of expensive smart phones by various manufacturers and insurers coming up with friendly modes of paying premiums.
The most-expensive mobile phone in Kenya, the iPhone 6 model, is currently being sold for 1,177 dollars. Other expensive brands are also in the market and are going for a minimum of 444 dollars.
Also read: Airtel to offer insurance cover for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
The increase in number of stylish mobile phones over the years indicates that uptake is high in the East African nation.
While some telecoms are selling the mobile phones with insurance cover as an incentive, others have partnered with insurers to offer tailor-made packages for their clients.
One such an agreement between a telecom and an insurance company allows the insured to pay 0.01 dollars premium per day through their mobile phones.
"With the 0.01 dollars premium, one does not feel any strain while paying the cash because it is negligible. I was mugged last year and my 389 dollars phone stolen. I was devastated because I had not insured it. When I bought a new one, I had to insure it," said media worker Vincent Karani.
The company offering the service has spiced the deal further by offering their mobile phone insurance clients life cover, which they also pay premiums via their cell phones.
From one company two years ago, the number of firms offering standalone mobile phone insurance in Kenya has increased to four as demand increases. The rest have lumped the service with other insurance covers, particularly the domestic or office packages.
"Mobile phone insurance in Kenya has become a reality because theft of the gadgets is rampant. If you have an expensive device, then it does not make sense you walk around with it uninsured," said Bernard Mwaso of Edell IT Solution.
Mwaso noted what makes the insurance package attractive is that one can pay very low premiums from the comfort of their homes via their mobile phones.
The information technology expert was optimistic that as uptake of expensive phones grows in Kenya, mobile phone insurance can only go up.
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