By Ebere Nwoji
The Chairman, Nigeria Insurers Association ( NIA),Eddie Efekoha, at the recent West Africa Insurance Companies’ Association’s ( WAICA) annual general meeting and education conference held in Gambia, took a critical look at issues that will promote or mar uniform regional regulation of the insurance industry. He observed that regulation of insurance business in West African sub region was largely underdeveloped basically due to differences in insurance supervisory standards within the sub-region.
Efekoha, who is also the Managing Director, Consolidated Hall Mark Insurance Plc, noted that uniform regulation, has become necessary in the sub region because of the fact that regional business walls in the supply of insurance products are increasingly being broken down and that institutions and individuals, may want to leverage arbitrage opportunities, hence the need for regulation within the sub-region.
He highlighted the enablers for uniform regional regulatory framework as increase in transborder operations within the sub region, which calls for harmonisation of regulatory framework; need for adjudicate supervision amongst national regulators; need to have regional insurance database for research and development for creation of standard for insurance market across member states in West Africa.
Others include the need for promotion of technical knowledge sharing amongst member state underwriter and regulators; need to standardise certain insurance product package and benefits; promote confidence and business sharing or exchange among players within the sub region.
He listed the objectives of insurance business regulation as minimising and where possible prevent anything that routinely causes insurance to go out of business and unable to pay claims; preventing unfair and deceptive policies and practices since insurance contracts promise to make certain payments under certain conditions at points in future; ensuring adequate information are available to consumers of insurance products; encouraging the availability of insurance products that have been made compulsory.
Efekoha, also highlighted challenges to uniform regional regulatory framework to include differences in the soundness of national macroeconomic and financial sector policies difference in cultures, mechanisms for providing an appropriate level of systemic protection or public safety net Nations are at different levels in the development of public infrastructure.
Earlier, the Commissioner for insurance, Mohammed Kari, had observed that insurance operators across West Africa need to engage the political structure of the Economic Communities of West African States (ECOWAS) to rethink the historical colonial partitions in order for them to achieve real integration.
Kari, who spoke while delivering a paper titled “Achieving Regional Integration in the Insurance Industry in West Africa Through Uniform Regional Compliance,
noted that the issue of regional integration has remained in the front burner of virtually all WAICA conferences, stressing that insurers need to accept that they cannot achieve much by themselves as an industry, and that they need to engage the ECOWAS political structure to recognise the need to rethink beyond the historical colonial partitions and integrate the CIMAs and WAICAs of the sub- region to achieve real integration.
He maintained that based on available facts, it would be hard to achieve the dream of regional integration.
He identified different laws and regulations of the jurisdiction; insecurity; inadequate capacity of supervisory authorities; political, government and industry interferences amongst others as hindrances to achieving the dream of regional integration.