The National Insurance Commission (NIC) has developed new guidelines to compel insurance companies to pay claims that have been established as genuine within seven days.
The Commission believes the guidelines will help to boost confidence in an industry that has over the years been battered by claims redemption challenges which have left many people in pain, affecting confidence and trust in insurance companies.
The NIC contends that implementation of the ‘No Premium, No Cover’ policy has made cash-strapped insurers solvent — which has positioned them well to respond appropriately to claims when they fall due.
The Deputy Commissioner of Insurance Simon Nerro Davor, in a directive issued to insurers, reinsurers and broking companies, said the NIC has set August 1 this year for effective implementation of the guidelines.
He said insurance companies that fail to abide by the new directive risk hefty sanctions.
He has therefore asked the 24 general insurance companies operating in the country to submit to the NIC their respective claims manual within the next two months.
“The payment of genuine claims in a prompt and fair manner remains a key priority in an effort by the NIC to raise public confidence and trust in the insurance industry.
“In view of this and in keeping with the ‘No Premium, No Cover’ directive to the industry, the NIC has come out with guidelines on claims management for compliance by non-life insurers.
“The guidelines are general in nature and relate more specifically to timelines for the settlement and payment of claims. They don’t provide detailed requirements for dealing with claims.
“All non-life insurers are therefore required to prepare and submit a claims manual to the NIC by Tuesday, September 30, 2014. The expected timeframes provided in the manual shall be in line with the NIC guidelines.
“The guidelines should also be displayed at the insurance halls of non-life insurers,” he said.
However, some insurers contacted by the B&FT expressed resentment about the directive, arguing that the NIC did not consult them before coming out with the guidelines.
But the NIC contends that, as a regulator, it does not need the permission and consent of insurance practitioners to come out with rules for the industry, saying: “Our primary concern is to protect the insured and restore public confidence in the industry”.
Some industry watchers have evaluated the coming into force of ‘No premium, No cover’ policy as the biggest game-changer in the industry over the last 15 years, as the policy enjoins insurers to collect premiums upfront before providing cover in a bid to improve the liquidity situation of insurance companies.
“Claims payment has been a major challenge in the Ghanaian insurance market. Insurance companies are in the business to pay claims, and therefore companies should mobilise funds to pay claims even before payment of salaries to their employees.
“Another challenge that needs to be addressed as early as possible is premium debtors. We need to work together as an industry to deal with the challenge of premium debtors,” noted the Commissioner of Insurance, Lydia Bawa.