The new Insurance Commissioner, Lydia Lariba Bawa, has formally met with insurance brokers after her assumption of office.
She was introduced to members of the Ghana Insurance Brokers Association (GIBA) by the Deputy Insurance Commissioner Simon Nero Davor.
At the interaction she expressed her wish for insurance brokerage firms to grow much bigger and develop much larger capacity than they have now, noting that some brokerage firms in neighbouring Nigeria are bigger than many primary insurance companies in Ghana.
She informed the brokers that the proposed new Insurance bill has been sent to her office for consideration by the industry?s regulatory institution. She revealed her plans to convene a round-table meeting to engage insurers and brokers and discuss their views on various aspects of the bill for possible further consideration, before it goes back to the Attorney-General?s office.
The Insurance Commissioner entreated GIBA members to be professional in their conduct and to make sure their activities are relevant to the public. She also encouraged them to keep up-to-date, accurate records, noting that lack of proper record-keeping is a worrying issue in the insurance brokerage industry.
Madam Bawa also addressed the issue of credit management, which she stressed deserves urgent attention. She pointed out that in Nigeria the insurance industry has adopted a stance of not providing cover for policyholders who fail to pay their premiums, and served notice that the NIC will assume the same stance.
Another issue she promised to deal with is that of premium undercutting, which the brokers accuse insurance companies of — pointing out that this practice is ultimately detrimental to insurance underwriters, brokers and policyholders alike.
She advised member-companies of GIBA to ensure that their staff are properly trained to enable them maintain the highest professional standards.
Responding on behalf of GIBA?s members, the association?s President, Reverend Asante Marfo-Ahenkora?, promised the Insurance Commissioner their support in carrying out her duties and assured that they will cooperate with the Ghana Insurers? Association in ensuring proper premiums-collection
He also enumerated some of the pressing issues confronting insurance brokers. One of these is that of companies acting as corporate insurance agents even though they are not licenced as brokers or agents.
In line with this, he called on the Insurance Commissioner to address the issue of banks competing with brokers. He also complained about the payment of commissions to unlicenced agents, and pointed out that regular staff of insurance companies should not be paid commissions.
He noted that the technical quality of policy underwriting is falling and suggested that the NIC should involve GIBA in the vetting of companies seeking licences to become brokers, because it?s members are best positioned to carry out due diligence. Countries such as Nigeria have already adopted this practice.
Finally, he suggested that any professional disputes between members of GIA and members of GIBA should be handled and resolved on a trade association basis between the two associations, and only failing this should the matter be taken to the NIC.