Insurance companies must offer fair customer service – Commissioner

Madam Lydia Lariba Bawa, the Commissioner of the National Insurance Commission, on Tuesday urged insurance companies to treat their customers fairly to improve customer satisfaction and confidence in the sector.

She said fair treatment of customers required sales agents to clearly explain the features and all terms and conditions of the insurance product at the point of sale, instead of at the point of claims.

‘‘The terms and conditions must be conspicuously displayed in the policy document and clearly brought to the attention of the customer.

‘‘There must also be effective and ‘‘easy to use’’ avenues for customers to seek redress if they have grievances and complaints,’’ she said.

The Commissioner of Insurance gave the advice at the opening of the Fourth National Life Insurance Conference in Accra on the theme: ‘‘Extending Coverage of Life Insurance in Ghana – A Collective Responsibility’’.

The event, organised by the Ghana Insurers Association, brought together stakeholders in the industry to deliberate on the challenges and strategise towards increasing insurance penetration in the country.

Madam Bawa said the insurance penetration in the country was low with just 1.7 per cent coverage and, thus, entreated insurance companies to cultivate the culture of paying legitimate claims promptly and adequately.

‘‘This is critical as people tend to understand and appreciate what we do more than what we say. Selling the product is just talking; paying the claims promptly and in the right quantum is when we walk the talk,’’ she said.

The Commissioner noted that until the insurance companies took the payment of claims seriously, it would be almost impossible to extend the coverage of insurance in the country.

She urged players in the industry to develop products that meet the needs of the people, saying products must be designed to address specific occupational and lifestyle needs so as to improve customer value and generate effective demand.

In addition, she said, insurance companies must be financially sound in order to honour their obligations and have appropriate plans to mitigate the risks inherent in their business environment.

Commenting on some successes chalked in the industry over the past three years, Madam Bawa said life insurance gross premium grew by 22 per cent from 680 million cedis in 2015 to 828 million cedis in 2016 whereas the non-life premiums grew by 25 per cent from 855 million cedis to over one billion cedis over the same period.

She said even though non-life had a relatively higher premium income, life insurance recorded total assets of 2.1 billion cedis as compared to 1.5 billion for non-life.

Extending the coverage of insurance was important condition for poverty reduction, promotion of social and economic welfare and ensuring financial stability, she said.

She gave the assurance that the Commission would collaborate with all relevant stakeholders in undertaking effective education for all segments of the population.

Madam Abena Osei Asare, a Deputy Minister of Finance, said subscribing to an insurance policy served as a source of refuge in times of disasters and a tool for wealth creation for financial growth of citizens.

She gave the assurance that the Government would create a conducive environment for the private sector to grow adding that the essence of good governance was to provide the enabling environment for the private sector to operate effectively and efficiently for the common good of the country.

Madam Asare, also the Member of Parliament for Atiwa East, noted that technology remained a pivotal tool for effective service delivery in modern times and urged the delegates at the conference to explore the medium for the benefit of the industry.

She explained that; ‘‘these are all initiatives that will go a long way to address the myriad of challenges the insurance sector is faced with’’

Mr Alhassan Andani, the Managing Director of Stanbic Bank, Ghana, who chaired the function, said Ghana had a stable political environment and, therefore, urged the players in the industry to take advantage to increase the insurance penetration.

He said there was a direct correlation between life insurance coverage and formalisation of the national economy and, thus, called for localisation of the concept of insurance with massive education to increase penetration.

Mr Andani, therefore, called for the extension of services such as insurance, mobile telephony and merchandising in order to enhance the formalisation of the economy which would improve the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

The conference would discuss, among other topics, “Managing your Customer from Sales to Claims and Technology,” and Innovation at the Service of Life Insurance Customer”. GNA

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