Cover to cushion Kenyans seeking jobs in the Middle East

Thousands of workers seeking employment overseas in regions such as the Middle East and Asia will soon enjoy insurance cover in the government’s bid to improve their welfare.

Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA) chief executive Godfrey Kiptum said last week the country wants to replicate models in countries such as Ethiopia where the cover was rolled out.

Mr Kiptum says the cover will be part of efforts to expand coverage of insurance to the vulnerable Kenyans, many who opt for overseas domestic jobs amid rising cases of human rights violation.

“This is something we are working on in cooperation with other government bodies,” he said without giving details of the cover.

Many migrant workers in the informal sector miss out on social protection programs such as public health cover, making them vulnerable.

Speaking in Nairobi during the fourth UNEP-PSI (Principles of Sustainable Insurance) forum, Mr Kiptum said the cover is part of the efforts to deepen insurance penetration by roping in vulnerable people.

UNEP-PSI was convened to discuss what insurers can do to ensure they adopt practices that can embed their business models to Sustainable Development Goals.

It was not immediately clear if the State is targeting to pump in money to ensure the targeted people pay highly discounted premiums.

ZEP Re chief executive Hope Murera said a similar cover has been successful in Ethiopia where the reinsurer covers domestic workers going for employment in the Middle East.

“In Zambia, we are partnering with the government over the same. Insurance is the missing link in the financial inclusion agenda,” said Ms Murera.

The planned cover comes on the backdrop of an increasing number of Kenyans migrating to other countries in search of employment.

Between March 2019 and January 2020, some 29,448 Kenyan migrant workers were cleared to work in Saudi Arabia as homecare managers.

Many Kenyans are rushing overseas on the promise of well-paid work and the desire to escape joblessness at home.

Kenyans are present in most regions of the world, including Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, the Caribbean and Oceania.