26 April 2014

West Africa: ECOWAS Insurance Technocrats Meet in Banjul

ECOWAS Insurance Technocrats are meeting in Banjul for the 2014 first Zonal meeting of the ECOWAS Brown Card Scheme which opened yesterday, 23 April 2014, at the Sea view Garden. The meeting, being hosted by the National Bureau of ECOWAS Brown Card of The Gambia, will be preceded by an extra ordinary General Assembly to enable the scheme adopt a new Consensus Brown Card for use in all ECOWAS member states.

ECOWAS Brown Scheme is a compulsory insurance cover for third party liability against accident, involving vehicles traveling across the West Africa sub- region. It covers death, medical expenses, bodily injury and material damage.

The Scheme was established in 1982 with the objectives to enhance the free movement of road users, and foster a real regional integration and guarantee a fair and prompt compensation to the victims of road accidents for losses suffered, by visiting motorists traveling from other ECOWAS member countries.

Officially opening the meeting on behalf of Governor, the First Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of the Gambia, Basiru Njai, said the insurance sector plays a vital role in fostering economic growth and development. He noted that it serves as a medium through which commercial entities and individual policy holders are indemnified against certain losses thereby protecting their incomes and assets.

"Put differently, insurance is all about trust. Customers place their trust in a company that they expect will deliver upon its promises at the set time or event," he stated.

The First Deputy Governor added that customers also need the reassurance that their interests are safeguarded at inception, as well as during the lifetime of the policy and they would be treated fairly and promptly at the time that their benefits or claims would need to be paid.

"The essence of insurance is defeated when companies default on their most basic function, which is the timely settlement of genuine claims," he noted. First Deputy Governor Njai described underwriting and claims settlement as the two most important aspects in the functioning of an insurance company. Njai added that expeditious claim settlement serves as a market differentiator in this highly competitive and economically challenging environment.

He also said that insurance will be able to minimize claims by combining best practices and efficient case management. "These improvements will ultimately boost key performance indicators which, in turn, would undoubtedly impact operating results in a positive way," he said.

In his welcoming remarks, the Chairman of the Gambia National Bureau, ECOWAS Brown Card, Ebou L. Bittaye, said the meeting was meant for them to exchange ideas on the ECOWAS Brown Card Scheme. Mr. Bittaye stated that as part of the meeting, they will be conducting both an Extra Ordinary General Assembly and Zonal Meeting simultaneously. He added that they will also be discussing pertinent issues relating to the scheme which is the consensus brown card and claims settlement.

Mr. Bittaye noted that the Brown Card Schemes continues to subscribe to the ideals of free movement of people and goods, thus expressing hope they will be able to settle as many cross border claims as possible for that was what the scheme was established.

For his part, the Chairman, ECOWAS Council of Bureau, Soriba Cisse, gave a brief information about the Scheme. He said the ECOWAS Brown Card Insurance Scheme was signed in May 1982, in Cotonou, Benin.

The meeting which will end on Friday 25 April 2014, is being attended by insurance technocrats from all the ECOWAS member states.

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