By Christopher Mapani,
It is my pleasure to introduce the Pensions and Insurance Authority Forum, a weekly column under which the Pensions and Insurance Authority (PIA) will be publishing articles relating to insurance and pensions. The column will supplement existing newspaper columns on insurance matters but biased towards supervisory and regulatory matters in the insurance and pensions space. It is hoped, through this platform, to enlighten the public on developments in the pensions and insurance industry and measures being taken to protect insurance policy holders and pension scheme members.
At PIA, we strive for continuous improvement in a quest to be a modern regulator that is known, trusted and respected. We consider it a privilege to serve you and desire that you insure your property or life and secure your retirement by having a pension plan with the assurance that we have your back covered.
Our core mandate is to supervise and regulate players in the insurance and pensions industry and promote the development of these two sectors. On the insurance front, this includes licensing insurance companies and intermediaries such as insurance brokers, insurance agents, loss adjusters, risk surveyors and assessors and overseeing their operations for conformity with established rules and regulations.
The insurance industry is divided into long term (life) and short term (general) insurance. Short term insurers provide insurance cover against risks such as fire, accidents and damage to property. Long term insurers, on the other hand, provide services such as life insurance, group life cover, retirement solutions and medical health insurance. Currently, 20 general and 9 long term insurers and 46 brokers are licensed.
We ensure that insurance companies, in particular, are managed by fit-and proper persons, meet capital requirements and more importantly, that they are financially sound. As such, insurance companies and brokers are required to submit quarterly financial statements which are reviewed by the Authority. In addition, licenses for regulated entities are reviewed annually.
Further, the Authority approves insurance products and conducts inspections on insurance companies. Incidental to its licensing mandate, PIA also deals with pensions and insurance related complaints. The Authority has noted complaints from the general public particularly in relation to delays in settling insurance claims and several interventions, which will be discussed in future articles, are being taken to address the root causes.
On the pensions front, PIA supervises and regulates occupational pension schemes, pension fund managers and pension fund administrators. Occupational pension schemes are voluntary pension schemes established by employers to supplement statutory pension schemes. We ensure that pension funds are prudently invested and managed in the best interest of scheme members.
Currently, the Authority is implementing a Strategic Plan covering the period 2019 to 2021, which focuses on addressing gaps in the regulatory framework and ultimately enhancing protection of insurance policy holders and pension scheme members. Thus, a number of measures are being taken to enhance the quality of service and, in particular, delayed settlement of insurance claims, diversifying and developing the insurance and pensions market and protecting the insurance sector from being used for money laundering and similar harmful activities.
Further, the Authority anticipates the repeal of the Insurance Act before the end of the year and consequently migrate to a new risk-based capital adequacy regime and thereby strengthen financial soundness of insurance companies. Equally, the Authority’s powers to sanction erring regulated entities will be enhanced. With enhanced powers, the Authority will be better placed to effectively deal with complaints. The new legislation is also expected to introduce measures to foster prompt payment of premiums by policy holders. Pension legislation is equally undergoing review within the context of pension reforms.
Avoid being left behind by reading this column every Wednesday that will be covering a variety of pensions and insurance matters. Meanwhile, details of licensed entities and other information relating to pensions and insurance companies are available on our website www.pia.org.zm.
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The Author is the Registrar and CEO of the Pensions and Insurance Authority.