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An African insurance outbreak

By Charlie Hamilton
Posted on Tuesday, 2 June 2015 15:08

African Risk Capacity (ARC), which already provides protection to states seeking cover against natural disasters such as floods and drought, is preparing a new epidemics package following the spread of the devastating Ebola virus in parts of West Africa.

“While pricing models will be more complex than in ARC’s existing drought product and flood and tropical cyclone modelling, product development is feasible and will reflect true risk,” the ARC’s director general Richard Wilcox told reporters in late January.

He adds that four countries had already expressed interest in the product, which was due to go live in 2017.

The ongoing Ebola outbreak, which has claimed more than 10,200 lives in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, is expected to cost these countries around $4bn.

The new policy aims to provide fast-response financing and is expected to comprise an initial upfront payment once an outbreak is confirmed, plus a contingency fund to provide additional financing to limit the spread of disease.

ARC, which the AU began in 2013 with $200m in seed capital, uses a pooled funding model in which member states contribute to cover premium payments. The group made its first payouts from its catastrophe insurance totalling $25m earlier this year. ●

Natural disasters: Counting costs and casualties
Natural-disaster losses topped more than $10m in February as the continent was battered by torrential wind and rain, according to investment analysis group Market Realist. Quoting data from Aon Benfield it says that damage to homes and businesses and lost revenue following the landfall of tropical cyclone Fundi, which lashed Madagascar at the beginning of the month, reached more than $10m alone. The total impact of such events is expected to be below that of February 2014, when floods swept through Burundi and Zimbabwe, triggering more than $20m in damages. The UN Environment Programme estimates that global natural disasters cause $190bn in damage each year.

Kenya: Liberty grows quickly
The pre-tax profits of the Kenyan division of South African insurance giant Liberty climbed 3.9% in 2014 to $16m as the company continues its push into new East African markets. Liberty Kenya reported that revenue from premiums rose 8.6% during the year to reach $86m, while investment income soared by 12.9% to $38m. Liberty’s Kenyan operation has embarked on an ambitious growth strategy to become one of the three largest players by market share by 2020. It was in fifth place last year.
Nigeria: An absence of actuaries
Growth in Nigeria’s insurance industry is being held back by a lack of actuaries, with only 12 individuals providing services to almost 60 insurance firms, according to Mayowa Adeduro, the chief executive of Anchor Insurance. Despite being Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria has a fledgling insurance industry with a penetration rate of around 0.68%. New education and training for actuaries, who analyse risk and uncertainty, must be backed up with higher salaries for newcomers, says Adeduro.

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