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Commissioner pledges to improve image of insurance

BY: Maxwell Akalaare Adombila
Mr Justice Yaw Ofori — Commissioner of Insurance
Mr Justice Yaw Ofori — Commissioner of Insurance

The new Commissioner of Insurance, Mr Justice Yaw Ofori, has pledged to make insurance a pooling point for the attraction and mobilisation of low cost and long-term funds for investments.

He hopes to achieve this by making insurance a household name, speeding up claim payments to help improve the image of insurance business and the industry with the view to positioning the National Insurance Commission (NIC) as a respectable regulator capable of sanitising the insurance industry.

In an interview with the Daily Graphic, he said: "Once the confidence in insurance picks up", “more people will be comfortable taking up insurance policies and that will mean more funds will be available to the insurers for investment and the ability to pay legitimate claims more promptly”.

Mr Ofori said his policy directions for the industry over the next four years would be driven by his belief that insurance was a national growth enabler.

"If properly harnessed," he said "insurance, which hinges on saving some money towards a rainy day, could become a key player in the growth of the financial services sector".

Insuring state properties

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He also hinted of his resolve to prevail on the government to insure state properties, explaining that insurance for public assets would represent a win-win situation for the country and the insurance companies.

"Given that the government is the largest spender," he said "agreeing to insure all government assets could increase insurance penetration significantly”.

This will also provide financial cushion for the government and the country in times of disasters.

Unlike the western countries, where all state properties are compulsorily insured, public properties in the country are not insured, something the Commissioner of Insurance said was not in the best interest of the nation.

He mentioned state vehicles, buildings and other properties that could be insured should the government agree to the proposal.

Growing bond market

Given that most insurance policies, especially those in the life category, take longer terms to mature, Mr Ofori said it was advisable that premiums collected on them were invested in long-term instruments to help guarantee better returns.

He mentioned the bond market as one of the places that he would be looking to encourage insurance companies to invest their premiums.

Given that bonds are long term investment instruments, he said insurers and the insured would be better off if the premiums were invested there.

“The assumption is that the average Ghanaian takes around 60 years to die and that means that you can invest life insurance premiums in maturing instruments to guarantee higher yields and stability,” he said.

Profile

Mr Ofori is a Chartered Insurer and has been a practitioner with specialisation on issues relating to claims, technically known as a Loss Adjuster.

He is the pioneer Director of the Ghana Insurance College, a position he held since 2006 until his resignation.

With insurance penetration around two per cent, he will be expected to help grow the numbers through innovative policies and initiatives that will rope more persons into the insurance bracket.

A product of the University of Ghana, Mr Ofori was the Director of the Ghana Insurance College (GIC) prior to his appointment by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in July, this year.

He replaced Ms Lydia Lariba Bawa, who had been the Commissioner since July 2013.