Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday urged the insurance companies to utilise their industry for humanitarian welfare and said that a Unified Messaging Platform (UMP) would be introduced to save the customers from insurance-related cheating.
‘I hope you (insurance companies) will use the insurance industry for humanitarian welfare and play a more effective role in keeping production and the economy out of risk,’ she said.
The prime minister was addressing as the chief guest the inaugural ceremony of the 15th International Conference on Inclusive Insurance at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka in the afternoon.
Hasina described inadequacy of information as a major problem for insurance customers.
She said that consumers’ confidence in the insurance industry had decreased and sometimes they were deceived too, as they remained in the dark about how many instalments had been deposited and whether the instalment money had actually been credited to the head office.
‘To overcome the problem, the process of creating a Unified Messaging Platform (UMP) is underway,’ she said.
Hasina requested the owners of the insurance companies to give importance to the issue of social responsibility alongside making profit.
Putting emphasis on introduction of micro-insurance schemes to tackle climate change risk, she said that it will greatly benefit lower income group people affected due to natural calamities.
The Bangladesh Insurance Association has arranged the three-day conference in association with Munich Re Foundation and Micro-insurance Network (MiN) with the theme ‘Coping With Climate Risk’.
Finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, Senior Secretary of the Financial Institutions Division under the Ministry of Finance Ashadul Islam and Chairman of Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority Shafiqul Rahman Patwary were present at the function as special guests.
Chairman of Munich Re Foundation Thomas Loster and chairman of Micro-insurance Network Doubell Chamberlain also spoke on the occasion as special guests.
BIA president Sheikh Kabir Hossain presided over the function while its first vice-president Rubina Hamid delivered the welcome address.
At the outset of the event, an audio-video presentation on business and insurance in Bangladesh was made.
The prime minister said that a directive had been issued to bring transparency in transactions in the insurance industry.
‘All transactions above Tk 10,000 must be made through a bank. All insurance companies have been instructed to show their updated insurance claims on their own web site,’ she said.
Hasina said that being the largest Delta in the world, Bangladesh was one of the most vulnerable nations to climate change. Cyclone, storm, floods, droughts, rain and earthquake occurred in the country round the year at different times, she said.
‘Insurance can play an effective role in tackling the natural disasters. But application of insurance is very limited and inadequate in covering the risks resulting from natural disaster,’ she said.
As a result, the prime minister said, that it was possible to compensate losses and damages grossly but it was still impossible to reach people at the micro-level.
‘In that case, special insurance ecosystem can play an impressive role in addressing climate risks. However, this form of insurance system is a new type of initiative. It has been introduced in a few countries and it’s at experimental stage in some countries,’ she said. ‘We could also make this arrangement in our country,’ she added.
The prime minister said that insurance industry helped to reduce the invisible risks of individuals, families and the organisations and also provided financial guarantees to minimise potential risks.
‘It also provides protection against loss of life and property. It helps create funds for the country’s capital and investment sectors. So, everyone needs insurance, regardless of the rich and the poor,’ she said. Considering the importance of insurance industry in the socio-economic development of the country, Hasina said that the present government had given due importance to modernisation and development of this sector.
‘Our government has been trying to develop the insurance industry. We enacted the new Insurance Act 2010 in place of the age-old Insurance Act 1938,’ she said.
The prime minister said that the government had also established an autonomous regulatory body, Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority (IDRA), dissolving the office of the Chief Controller of Insurance. ‘The IDRA has taken several effective steps to ensure inclusive insurance,’ she added.
To take into account the farmers affected by the sudden floods in the ‘haor’ region and tackle the risk of climate change as a whole, she said, agricultural insurance was being introduced in the ‘haor’ region to reduce the financial losses of the farmers in the primary stage.
The prime minister said that insurance policy for the workers working abroad had been introduced. ‘It will be possible to take insurance risk of about 12 million workers. Under this insurance, a worker will get maximum insurance benefit of Tk 5 lakh,’ she said.
Pointing out that insurance claim settlement was a problem in the insurance industry, Sheikh Hasina said that initiatives had been taken to bring out the insurance industry from the problem and to safeguard the interests of consumers.
‘As a result, the insurance industry has settled the insurance claim of Tk 8,000 crore during the last two years. Due to “zero tolerance” policy of the authority on claim settlement, the rate of claim settlement has significantly increased,’ she said.
Hasina said that initiatives had been taken to insure building insurance to ensure the financial security of the risks arising from the fire in the buildings.
‘The deadline is set by December 2019 to enlist 27 insurance companies that are not yet listed in the capital market,’ she said.
She said that the ‘Bangabandhu Education Insurance’ was underway to continue the education of the school-going students in the absence of parents.
The prime minister said that it had been proposed to declare 1st March as ‘National Insurance Day’, adding that on the day founder president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman joined the then Alpha Insurance as regional chief. ‘We’re thinking about considering the proposal,’ she said.
The prime minister said Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was involved with the insurance industry.
‘Assuming office after the independence, he worked for the development of the insurance industry in our country,’ she said.
Realising the important role of an actuary for insurance industry, Sheikh Hasina said that the founder president had called the only actuary of Bangladesh at that time Shafat Ahmed Chowdhury from London and appointed him as the Controller of Insurance in 1973.
Wishing success to the conference, the prime minister hoped that experts from different countries in this conference would play a role to share mutual experiences to help create more effective and realistic programmes to address climate risks through inclusive insurance policy.
Nearly 400 representatives of insurance and financial institutions from 42 countries were participating in the conference, organisers said.
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