Thursday, February 14, 2013

'Poor public perception of insurance caused by lack of knowledge'

Mr Jagana
President of Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry

The poor public image of the insurance industry is due to the fact that people do not have much knowledge about insurance and even some of the people who are purportedly knowledgeable on the subject, by being insured, do not read to know the terms and conditions of their policy hence do not know what is covered and what is not, the president of the GCCI has said.

Speaking at a forum on the “Contribution of insurance stakeholders towards eradicating the poor public image of the industry” organized by the Insurance Association of The Gambia as part of a weeklong sensitization campaign dubbed Insurance Awareness Week, Mr Muhammed Jagana of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the majority of policyholders take an insurance cover just because they are required by law to insure their vehicles, or require insurance coverage for visa applications.


Held at the Atlantic Hotel in Banjul, the purpose of the forum was for the insurance stakeholders to discuss ways and means of eradicating the negative image of people about the insurance industry.

“Majority of policyholders in The Gambia think that insurance companies are good at collecting premiums and once you get into trouble they bring you a lot of issues in order to avoid paying claims,” Mr Jagana said.

“Majority of policyholders believe that just because they have an insurance cover, especially motor insurance, they should be paid once they are involved in an accident.”

“I am not sure if you undertake any market surveys amongst policyholders or the public in general in relation to insurance companies pay-out in The Gambia,” he told the insurance practitioners. 

“I was in URR (Upper River Region) last week and started to ask people about insurance, quite a lot of them simply gave me the expected answer; ‘insurance companies just collect your money.  If you have an accident they want you to get a police report or inform you that your policy doesn’t cover this amount’.”

Mr Jagana noted that this could be solved by making policyholders more aware about their rights under the insurance policy.  Most policyholders feel that once they take Comprehensive motor insurance cover, they have an all-rounder and do not have to worry about anything.

He also suggested that the insurance industry can improve or even eradicate the poor public image of the industry through publicity and advertisement. “Either through IAG or individual companies to publish or advertise the number of claims paid in a quarter,” he said.

Still on his suggestions, Jagana said the industry should: “Get policyholders to talk about their great experiences, public awareness forums.  Expand these types of forums to outside the inner core of the market, develop community awareness schemes, and educate prospective policyholders at early age.”

For Mrs Rougie Gaye Nyan, senior manager at Prime Insurance Company, eradicating the poor image of the industry can be summed up in two words, ‘education and communication’.

“The insurers need to educate and communicate more with clients. We only tend to deal with clients when they have a claim or when renewals are due when we are talking to them about premium once again,” she said.  

Further justifying her point that education and communication are the main tools to eradicating the poor public image of insurance, Mrs Nyan said: “For example, not many clients understand the difference between a Third party cover motor insurance cover, and a Comprehensive cover.  Even clients with Third party believes they are to be compensated for own damage claims and this is where the most common statement against us [insurers] emanates from.”

She also noted that the insurance companies should begin with simplifying their policies.  “Most insurers will agree with me that even people in the industry do not find reading insurance policies interesting.  Most of the policies are filled with old English that are not part of our every day usage.”

She further continued: “Also another point that needs to be noted in order to eradicate poor image is to be giving back to the community.  Insurers can help by maintaining wards in hospitals, sponsoring students, donating to schools, etc.  For the corporate clients, we (the insurers) can be giving them advice regarding risk management which might help reduce chance of a claim coming up. In this way, the people will not see us as just interested in collecting monies.”

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