EDITORIAL: Insurance sector must also act


It was heart-warming to hear insurance executives speak last week on the alarming incidents of deaths and serious accidents on our roads, especially those involving motorcyclists. At the same time the executives and indeed their trade organisation, the General Insurance Association of Barbados (GIAB), are also worried about the number of uninsured motorcyclists on our roads as well as legislation to make the use of the breathalyzer mandatory.
No one can fault the concerns outlined and would conclude that the words expressed showed a caring and compassionate side of these officials and by extension their industry. However, we believe that the general insurance industry has the power to do more than just dream of, or wish, for solutions to these problems.
Fortunately, our general insurance industry is in relatively sound financial health and has not taken a hit of confidence as has affected the life sector following the CLICO and British American Insurance saga. For peace of mind insurance is a necessity for those with property, marine, motor and other classes of business which require general insurance cover. This is evident from the trauma many people face ever so often across this country following a house fire. It is obvious given the high incidence of vehicular accidents or for that matter when a promoter stages an outdoor event and foolishly fails to get pluvial coverage.
Many people will complain about wasting their money by getting insurance cover, pointing to the many years they have paid with no claim and the whole exercise appearing to be one of futility. Hence, the risk so many people prefer to take.
The insurance business is operated on the premise of “trust” and “promises to be upheld”. In other words it is to cover that risk so many take and this means the general insurance industry cannot be seen in purely economic terms.The industry must not only speak up when there is an outcry about rising premiums, sometimes driven purely by circumstances outside of their scope.
But, understanding a rather complex industry is not something in which the policyholder is interested. Those executives voicing concerns about the high incidence of uninsured motorists or the lack of a breathalyzer are the ones to understand and explain. They need to not only talk but act on the issues.
They need to mount a public education programme aimed at enlightening the public as to the necessity for cover; and the GIAB needs to focus on advocacy by lobbying the lawmakers and the aw enforcers.
This sector must not only see the importance of the actuarial specialists or think primarily about the best underwriters and risk managers. It must recognize that soft skills are equally as important and must therefore engage the public.


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