EDITOR'S NOTE: This article is a part of our Money254 Partner Series and is produced in partnership with Absa Bank Kenya. For more on Money254’s editorial policy, read here.
“Kila kitu imeenda, we are finished”
These were the first words my wife said to me after interrupting my sleep at 5am. At first I thought I might have overslept and she was calling to wake me up. But on hearing those words, I became confused and panicky.
I was on a working trip in Mombasa and I had had a few cocktails the night before.
“Joy, hold on a bit, what are you saying is gone? Take a deep breath and let me know what’s wrong. Are you and the kids okay?”
“Nobody has been hurt. But we woke up and the whole house had been wiped clean, everything was stolen.
Immediately after disconnecting the call, I called a boda boda rider who rushed me to the airport. I was lucky to find one seat left on the morning flight to Nairobi.
There are things that are difficult to conceptualise until you see them. If the story had sounded unreal on the phone, it was even stranger in reality. My home looked like a scene in a movie.
Five mansions, each with at least three people inside, had been broken into and every valuable stole - nobody hurt. Nobody heard everything.
The police established that the robbers had used a strong sleeping gas during their raid. They must have used at least three lorries to carry electronics worth millions of shillings, furniture, and other households.
In one of the houses, they found bacon in the fridge and actually cooked it with eggs - before carrying the fridge.
Fast rewind 6 months earlier in May 2022. I had moved here with all the excitement that comes with owning your first home. It had been 6 years of hard work and savings but finally, the house was ready for occupation. We were free from rental payments.
My wife and I had bought a 50*100 land parcel off the Eastern Bypass in 2016 - before Kamakis became a household name.
It took us another three years of saving to get enough cash to build our house. Building your first house can be quite a tasking journey - both financially and mentally.
Just as we were about to start doing the finishings, Covid struck and with the uncertainty, slow business, and job cuts, we had to use some of the savings set aside for building the house for an emergency fund. Fortunately, we overcame the pandemic and resumed building in 2021.
Our mansion is located in a court that has 11 plots, 5 of which were fully built and occupied. We liked to refer to it as a gated community although the “gated” was just a chain-link fence and an unmanned gate.
It was a peaceful area with a small but growing population - and we had never felt unsafe until this strange incident shook us to the core.
Back to the crime scene and the first stress point was getting emergency supplies to make the house habitable - as we again started the process of furnishing the house for a second time.
The next few days were a stark reminder of how things can change so fast. We were back to sleeping on mattresses laid on the floor. Entertainment had transformed from our 55-inch Android TV, to my 14-inch laptop which had been spared since I had carried it to Mombasa.
One morning, I am heading to work when I find two trucks parked outside one of my neighbours, Jack’s gate. A group of young men are offloading brand-new household items including furniture, electronics, and kitchenware.
I call him to lightly make fun of his ability to bounce back so fast.
“Jack, you really need to show me your ways. After the security upgrade took away so much of our money, yaani bado uliweza kurudi soko,” I tell him jokingly.
Jack replied that he was, in fact, just as broke as I was but he had taken out a home insurance policy with Absa which had compensated him for the lost households.
“What a lifesaver! We must meet up jioni so you can update me on this concept, I have never thought about it,” I told him as I rushed out.
And that is how I learned about home insurance. The hard way.
But as for you, you don’t have to.
Home insurance, also known as homeowners insurance, is a type of insurance policy that provides financial protection for your home and personal property in case of unexpected events such as theft, fire, and natural disasters.
The insurance policy typically covers the physical structure of your home, as well as personal belongings inside the home, such as furniture, appliances, and electronics. In addition, it can also cover liability for injuries or damages caused by you, a family member, or even the structure to other people or their property while on your property.
There are a number of reasons why you need to take up the homeowners’ insurance policy. The reasons go beyond robbery and burglaries - safeguarding you from all manner of eventualities that you possibly have never thought could happen.
While we hope for the best security around our homes, life can get unpredictable and even the safest of neighbourhoods suffer from burglaries and robbery incidents.
When this happens, it helps to be protected from the financial cost of replacing your household items and repairing related damages. This can come as a great relief at a time when you are already hit by the mental and emotional pain of a burglary.
An accidental fire could see you transition from a homeowner to homelessness in a matter of minutes. You probably have taken some extra measures to ensure your home is safe from accidental fires - smoke detectors, firefighter’s contacts, and a fire extinguisher.
However, it is advisable to go the full journey and ensure that even if all interventions were to fail, there would be compensation to ease your reconstruction journey.
There are forces of nature that we cannot foresee and possibly come up with a human shield. The rains may be too generous and a blocked path could direct the floods to your house - causing havoc in your haven.
Or it could be that beautiful tree where you have your siesta, felled by a storm so strong that it falls on your roof. Having home insurance ensures you are compensated in the rebuilding journey.
Beyond the stress of the actual damage to your house, the stress and cost of relocating your family can be enormous.
It could be a fire that razed your home to the ground, or an accident that made it inhabitable. You probably would have to stay at a hotel or at an Airbnb, which adds on to your financial burden.
However, a home insurance policy protects you from this inconvenience as your relocation costs are met by the insurance provider. Note that not all standard home insurance policies have this feature, but you can have it custom-made for you and your family.
Some accidents or events cause physical harm to your loved ones or servants who may be in the house. It could be a robbery incident gone wrong, a fire, or a more common accident like a leaking hot water geyser.
While taking a home insurance policy, it is advisable to have a policy extension that ensures that medical expenses accruing from any of these life eventualities are covered.
Did you know that you are liable for some injuries that occur in your home, even if the victim is not a member of your family? For instance, if your househelp were to be injured by a falling wall, you could find yourself liable in a court of law and be required to compensate the servant or their family.
However, with a home insurance cover, the insurer takes the stress off your shoulders and caters for any liability - which protects you from the agony of lengthy lawsuits.
It is possible to have a policy extension that covers some of the possessions you carry, while taking home insurance. For instance, your personal computer is used both at home and at work. However, it may be stolen while you are outside the house, say while travelling for work. The home insurance cover allows for compensation in such events.
While many of these losses can be quantified, the greatest benefit of a home insurance cover is peace of mind. The value of knowing your home and your kids are protected from the many possible accidents that surround us is priceless.
After the conversation I had with my neighbour Jack, I was immediately sold on the home insurance concept.
It was a homesaver for Jack and though I prayed never to never be in such a situation, I wanted to go beyond hoping and come up with a practical situation.
I opted for Absa Home Insurance because I found it had a number of features that aligned with my needs.
You may be surprised to hear that I was considering getting an insurance cover through a bank rather than through an insurance broker - as many Kenyans do - or directly through an insurance company.
This is possible through bancassurance - which we are going to discuss below.
Bancassurance is a relatively new concept that is gaining traction around the world. It refers to the partnership between a bank and an insurance company, where the bank sells insurance products to its customers.
This collaboration allows banks to offer a range of insurance products, such as life insurance, health insurance, and property insurance, to their customers through their existing banking channels. Absa Kenya is one of the leading financial institutions offering its clients bancassurance.
Taking a home insurance policy via Absa Kenya comes with a number of advantages which are highlighted below.
Your financial needs fall under one institution. This enhances how you audit your personal finances and makes it easier to pay your home insurance premiums.
Absa Bank makes it easier for you to access home insurance by helping reduce the cost. It is able to do so because the bank has a pool of clients that allows it to negotiate better with insurance firms as compared to one applying individually to the insurance company.
This helps you save on the cost of insurance, money that can be used to meet your other needs. Other benefits include:
The Absa Home Insurance domestic package covers the following;
A home insurance cover is a basic investment for any homeowner keen on protecting their wealth and preventing things that are out of their control from derailing their financial growth journey. Not only does it protect the physical structure, but it also ensures valuables in the house are protected from the effects of unexpected events.
Above all, home insurance gifts you peace of mind - you know that in the event that an accident occurs, or an act of nature, your loved ones and belongings are protected.
A home is so much more than the physical structure, or even the households inside. It is a haven of comfort and security for your family. And especially for most Kenyans, owning a home is considered a big step towards financial stability since you no longer owe anybody rent. You can also handle episodes of income disruption better when you own the roof you live under.
Home insurance provides protection against damage caused by accidents such as fire, theft, or vandalism, and damages caused by natural disasters such as floods which can cause substantial financial losses.
Without home insurance, a homeowner - much like I had to - will be left to shoulder the financial burden of extensive repairs or replacements. In addition, they have to contend with the fact that such costs can also be both emotionally devastating.
By insuring your home, you can rest assured that you are financially protected against the devastating effects of natural disasters and accidents.
It is essential to choose an insurance partner that offers comprehensive coverage, competitive rates, and excellent customer service to ensure that you and your family are adequately protected.