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East Africa’s insurances to harmonize rules. Your Take Home...

The East Africa Insurance Supervisors Association (EAISA) recently signed a memorandum of understanding allowing for a peer review for the insurance sector in the five East African community member states. Ibrahim Kaddunabbi Lubega, the chief executive officer of Uganda’s Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA), explains to Milly Kibombo why this is important.

Why should Ugandans care that you signed this agreement?

It’s important for them to know that what we have just signed is aimed at streamlining the sector to international standards. We have just endorsed 26 insurance core principles (ICPs), which summarize the entire sector. And it’s important for Ugandans to know that regional integration is about collective and uniformed effort, meaning that there are some parts of insurance crisis that would be difficult for any single state to solve.

For instance some countries in the community don’t limit on claims for loss of life while Uganda gives maximum figure. We are, therefore, looking at a uniformed position and formula regarding laws governing the sector, as well as issues of inspection, compliance and levels of investment. The ICPs will further help us benchmark our levels of compliance with international standards.

Many people still think signing up for insurance is a waste of money. What are you doing to turn around this situation?
It’s not all as dull as some people assume. Insurance might not seem all glamour but there are so many good elements to it. We know that insurance is not appreciated because there is a general lack of consumer awareness even in cases that seem obvious. For instance, third party insurance is supposed to cater for third party victims in case of accidents but how many people know that the victim has an entitlement which should be claimed?

Most times the victim will only thank God for surviving with a broken leg and in some cases where compensation has been made. IRA, in conjunction with other stakeholders, is going to launch an aggressive consumer awareness campaign to make people know about the good side of insurance but also sensitize them about their rights, entitlements and obligations. This countrywide campaign is expected to kick off in the next two months.

What is IRA doing to promote climate-related insurance products, especially for farmers?

This is our concern too. We have instituted a section which is concentrating on research and development programmes in regard to agriculture insurance. You know agriculture has many components; so, we are trying to look at them in their entirety. And in conjunction with our development partner GIZ, we are going to carry out the first training for stakeholders such as insurers, farmers’ associations, banks, ministry of finance officials among others mid next month. We expect this will occur frequently.

We are also working more closely with a consultant to examine the market in depth and have some proposals on the matter of agriculture insurance. What are some of the weaknesses in the sector that IRA is tackling now? We realized there is lack of skilled manpower in the sector; so, we have developed training programmes to support professionalism and ensure an improvement at the skills level. The training cuts across all levels.

BY MILLY KIBOMBO
The Observer Newspaper
1-May-2012

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