The challenges faced by the local insurance industry in accessing foreign currencies to settle their reinsurance debts need to be addressed urgently, Tatil and Tatil Life Managing Director M Musa Ibrahim said.
Ibrahim made the statement during an interview with the Business Guardian when asked what he would like to see provided to the local insurance industry when the finance minister presents the national budget next Monday.
âFirst of all, local insurers, like many others, have difficulty accessing foreign currency (FX) to pay foreign (non-TTD) bills. The insurance industry provides an essential and vital service to our citizens, our businesses and, by extension, the infrastructure and assets of the country.
“These” risks “are shared and supported by various internationally listed reinsurers who, in the event of a loss, whether it is a pandemic or a national disaster, will share the costs of these losses. . Unfortunately, at this time, the insurance industry is not considered a “core trade” and does not receive priority treatment for FX to settle non-TTD liabilities. Failure to settle the reinsurance debt as incurred has unforeseen financial consequences and must be urgently addressed by the authorities, âIbrahim said.
On top of that, Ibrahim said general insurance customers who are under the age of 60 currently pay a six percent tax on their premiums.
âThis tax was originally implemented for the purpose of establishing an auto insurance bureau to reimburse customers with claims when other parties were not sufficiently insured – or not insured at all. Taxes are not used for this purpose and consideration should be given to reverting to the original intention.
âFinally, recognizing the importance of the life insurance industry as the largest savings repository in the country, I would like to recommend that whole life insurance policies benefit from similar tax incentives (tax credit) to those currently benefiting from pensions and annuities. Such an initiative will encourage citizens to be careful and foster an essential culture of saving for rainy days.
Ibrahim said that given the multitude of economic challenges, the government has a very difficult task.
âThe next budget is expected to present strategies that continue to address the social impact of the pandemic, and that help mitigate its negative effects on the most vulnerable of our citizens, but in a tightly managed and balanced manner. “
Despite the ongoing pandemic, Ibrahim said Tatil and Tatil Life have done âreasonably wellâ financially.
âWe have demonstrated resilience and are positioned to capitalize on future economic growth.
âOperationally, the pandemic has forced us to accelerate the digitization of many of our processes and to focus on improving our interaction with our customers through digital and online means. These changes have been both refreshing and encouraging.
Ibrahim said the pandemic had taken its toll on many of Tatil’s clients, both financially and with the loss of loved ones.
âAt first, we put financial measures in place to help the hardest hit customers, but we have seen an increase in lapses and non-renewal of policies due to home support measures implemented by companies. and the government.
âFortunately, the vast majority of our customers continue to recognize the importance of having appropriate life and health insurance coverage in place, especially during these uncertain times. As we slowly begin to see some return to the ‘new normal’, we continue to reach out to our clients with affordable financial solutions to provide them with the peace of mind they seek for themselves and their loved ones. .
An encouraging result, Ibrahim said, has been the enthusiasm with which the public embraced our new collective health plan, Evermed, which launched in December 2020.
He said enrollment under this plan has exceeded expectations.
âOur clients naturally turned to the new ways of doing business that we were able to offer them. The volume of ongoing digital transactions has grown significantly and we expect this trend to continue while remaining very customer-centric in our service delivery. We will add more tools, portals and channels for digital engagement and transformation, as well as for one-on-one communication with our customers.
With the various phases of lockdown that have been implemented across the country, Ibrahim said engine renewals were showing signs of a slight contraction, with some customers opting to “self-insure.”
âIt was very noticeable that there were fewer vehicles on the road. As the restrictions began to ease, we saw our engine renewals return to normal levels. “
Ibrahim said the pandemic has forced us all to adapt and innovate.
âMost of our agents have embraced the change and continue to diligently serve their clients using a combination of virtual meetings, digital communication channels, as well as face-to-face meetings (where possible) and phone calls to maintain existing relationships and create new ones.
âAll of our agents are equipped with laptops or tablets and state-of-the-art programs that can provide quotes on site. Going forward, even after the ânew normalâ has taken hold, the preferred option for many clients and agents will be virtual meetings. The engagement is just as strong and offers the possibility of more productive working days. “
He said the main lesson learned during the pandemic has been to expect the unexpected and make sure your organizations (or whatever you might be responsible for) are as nimble as possible.
âThis includes defining and ensuring that you have business continuity plans in place that are tested and robust.
âAt the individual level, people have to protect themselves against the risks posed by the unforeseen, and that has to be the right protection for each circumstance. Resilience and adaptability are crucial.
âInsurance has a key role to play in ensuring that individuals and businesses are well prepared. As insurers, our responsibility is to educate our clients on the need for appropriate coverage and to illustrate the options available to them that are suited to their particular situation.
Ibrahim said that a second important and positive lesson was that ânecessity is the mother of invention.
âCompanies have made innovations they didn’t believe possible, and in a fraction of the time they could have planned.
âWe are building on the confidence we have gained in pivoting during the pandemic towards the challenges that lie ahead. “
Tatil and Tatil Life serve tens of thousands of customers who depend on organizations to protect their assets, their lifestyle, and to provide health coverage.
âWe had to continue to deliver what was required on a daily basis despite the strict lockdown measures and despite all the challenges.
âOvercoming these challenges has made us stronger, more determined and more united to meet the expectations of our customers:
â¢ We have created a safe environment for our staff and customers by implementing strict sanitation and hygiene practices that remain in place to this day.
â¢ We have converted previously paper-based processes to electronic ones.
â¢ Communicating with our large customer base during the pandemic opened up opportunities for us to engage with them in ways that we might not have done before the pandemic. “