Central Bank of The Gambia's 1st Deputy Governor Basiru Njai has made it crystal clear to insurance practitioners in the West African sub-region that a lapse in the timely settlement of genuine claims by their customers destroys trust and defeats the essence of insurance.
"The essence of insurance is defeated when companies default on their most basic function, which is the timely settlement of genuine claims," said Mr Njai, while speaking yesterday at the Seaview Hotel in Kololi, at the opening ceremony of a three-day zonal meeting and 6th Extraordinary General Assembly on Ecowas Brown Card Scheme, hosted by the National Bureau of Ecowas Brown Card of The Gambia.
The zonal meeting and assembly is being held to enable the Scheme to adopt a new Consensus Brown Card for use in all Ecowas member states. Insurance technocrats from all Ecowas member states are currently delving into important issues concerning the smooth running of the Scheme.
"Underwriting and claims settlement are the two most important aspects in the functioning of an insurance company," the CBG deputy governor noted, saying in this highly competitive and economically challenging environment, expeditious claim settlement serves as a market differentiator.
"And by combining best practices and efficient case management, insurance will be able to minimize claims, improve efficiency and enhance customer satisfaction," he said.
"These improvements will ultimately boost key performance indicators which, in turn, would undoubtedly impact operating results in a positive way."
Mr Njai also said that the primary objective of the ECOWAS Brown Card Insurance Scheme is to create a common system for the settlement of claims arising in international motor traffic and for the harmonization of the laws and regulations governing liability to third parties in respect of motor vehicle accidents in ECOWASstates.
"Essentially," he continued, "the Scheme aims at guaranteeing victims of road traffic accidents a prompt and a fair compensation for damages sustained through the fault of non-resident motorists from other ECOWAS member states. Claims management and settlement functions lie at the heart of the scheme.
"In addition to providing compensation to victims of road accidents across member states, the Scheme also serves as a facilitator of trade and tourism in a region of 300 million people with a fast growing middle class.
"It is pertinent to note that the importance of the scheme would be magnified by the expected increase in trade and traffic following the implementation of the common external tariff (CFT) in 2015 agreed by the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS during the recent Extraordinary Summit in October 2013 in Dakar, Senegal."
The ECOWAS Insurance Scheme has come a long way following the signing of the protocol by the sixteen Heads of State of ECOWAS in Cotonou, Benin, in May 1982 as an important building block of the integration process in ECOWAS, Mr Njai noted, saying the Government of The Gambia "is unreservedly committed" to the scheme and looks forward to receiving concrete and practical proposals from the meeting.
"Additionally, it is pertinent that resolutions passed by the Council of Bureaux under Article 4 of the Protocol are implemented as a matter of urgency. As you may already know, the insurance market in The Gambia has now established a national bureau that has legal status and is operationally independent," he disclosed.
The CBG 1st deputy Governor also said the Central Bank of The Gambia as the regulator of the insurance sector in The Gambia "is fully cognizant" of the tireless and commendable efforts of the Gambia's National Bureau to facilitate the smooth operation of the Scheme.
Mr Njai also acknowledged "the good work" of the Insurance Association of The Gambia (IAG) and other stakeholders for competently steering the affairs of insurance in The Gambia.
In his address on the occasion, the Chairman of the National Bureau of Ecowas Brown Card of The Gambia, Ebou L. Bittaye, said that as an organization and "the most successful tool" for integration within the sub-region, the Brown Card Scheme continues to subscribe to the ideals of free movement of people and goods.
"I also look forward to your settling as many cross border claims as possible for that was what the scheme was established," Mr Bittaye told insurance technocrats at the 6th Extraordinary Assembly.
Ecowas Council of Bureau Chairman Soriba Cisse, from Guinea Conakry, also spoke about the essence of the meeting, which focused on Claims Management within ECOWAS. Author: Osman Kargbo