Underwriting Africa launches in Nairobi with products targeting upstream sector

East Africa has its first boutique Insurance Intermediary Company set up to provide niche and specialist insurance solutions to oil and gas exploration firms and their contractors.

Underwriting Africa whose headquarters are based in Nairobi has among its Reinsurance Partners Swiss Re with other brokerage partners in London and Paris.

On the oil and gas front the company will fill a gap that has been void in the local space allowing the importation of specialized insurance products by exploration firms and contractors.

To exploration firms for example they need to be covered from risks such as blowouts, gas leakage, pollution among others while contractors need to have insured their drilling rigs, equipment, corrosion etc.

“Whilst the local insurance regulations give first priority to local firms when it comes to underwriting the lack of capacity allowed the commissioner almost automatically to allow exploration companies look outside for cover,” says Oil and Gas services CEO Mwendia Nyaga.

“The aim of Underwriting Africa is to ensure this expertise is sourced locally,” adds Underwriting Africa Cecilia Rague-Kaisha.

As the region gets into development and production phases Enrique Gonzalez of Swiss Re adds that it has products for Pipelines, LNG facilities, tankage while products for downstream include Refining & marketing, petrochemicals.

“What Underwriting Africa will do is take the burden out of its clients when it comes to the various insurance risks including upstream,technical, guarantees and market risks,” says Gonzalez.

Gonzalez adds that the new firm will have to deal with various risks in emerging economies and especially Africa including: the temptation for companies to undertake cost control measures, second hand machinery, lack of environmental impact assessment, deliberate non adherence to best practice and statue of limitations in various jurisdictions.

Other challenges include where companies deal with third party companies for waste management, change in laws, trade secrets that lead to non disclosure of various items, local content policies among others.

“We want to focus on areas we realized there was a gap and needed special expertise. In

Apart from the oil and gas sector Underwriting Africa will also be targeting the entire energy industry while other insurance products targeting aviation, Trade credit, Micro health, Bonds and sureties, Livestock and crop as well as Political risk insurance.

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