Following the fire that gutted Kigali’s upscale entertainment spot - B-Club, The New Times has since established that penetration rate of the national insurance industry stands at only 4%.This is obviously a very low rate which prompted The New Times to seek an insurance company perspective on this trend. In this interview Fred Oluoch-Ojiwah spoke to Pierre-Claver Nkulikiyinka the Commercial Director at Soras Insurance Company Ltd about low insurance penetration.
Is sensitization the main issue here?
I think that you are right on that one. We, as an industry, need to embark on a sensitization program targeting different channels and categories. We need to engage the population through mass media and pass the message across.
When are you going to embark on this move?
We have actually embarked on it. However, I must add that we need to step up our collective efforts for the purposes of boosting awareness campaigns.
Let us talk about reports where people say that industry players take long to settle their claims.
Settling of a particular claim will be timely depending on various factors. Talking about delay I must point out that it is a function of the nature of the cover itself.
It also depends on how the insurance company is organized. I will illustrate by talking about how we do it here at Soras for instance.
Once you have all the documents, in a situation of making a claim for motor vehicle insurance it cannot take us more than a week. Meaning that for a claim to be settled on time, all the proper documentation must be in place.
What brings about unnecessary delays is lack of all the documentations that make up the claim. For instance, if you don’t have the police report it will be difficult and actually useless to chase your claim.
However, I must say that it takes time to get a police report. Once the checklist of the documentation is fully complete, getting paid will not take more than a week.
But it is well known that there are cases that take long like that of B-Club.
Certainly. A case of that nature is complex. An investigation will have to be launched. That takes a lot of time. Such a case will need specialists to analyse the findings.
They are called assessors. An assessor’s report will, under normal circumstances, take time. Because we are talking about a very huge claim, a financial report will thus have to be scrutinized properly to avoid making mistakes.
However, I must reiterate that once we have all the reports and documents processing should not take long.
It is known that the premiums are invested via an investment policy. How does Soras make its investments?
There is a government regulation on investments within the industry. Our focus is on real estate. For instance, this building housing our headquarters is a case in point. Prima 2000 is another piece of real estate that we have. We also have some upscale apartments in Kigali as well.
To diversify risk, we have also invested in other sectors. For instance we have interests in certain firms within the financial sector. Ageseke is a case in point.
We are the main shareholders in that. We also have positions in other firms such as Rwanda Investment Group-RIG as well as some profitable companies.
Let us talk about real estate as some people say that returns are slow.
That is not true. It depends on the choice you have made. For instance in our upscale apartments we are making good money. In that we are targeting tourists coming to Rwanda and our returns have been good.
Do you have a health product?
Yes we do. It’s called Medi Plus.
How do you differentiate it from others?
Our product’s main differentiation lies with its flexibility and affordability. Flexible as it has three versions catering for different financial capacities of those seeking it.
In this product we have set up schemes that cut across all levers of society starting with those able to pay top premium rates and those at the middle level and lastly those at the bottom of the pyramid.
For instance at the top we have a tailor made scheme that allows a patient to attend the top health facilities such as King Faisal. The middle categories we have patients being able to attend some private clinics.
The bottom allows patients to visit public facilities. The difference between our scheme which serves those at the bottom with the public insurance scheme rests with prescription. Ours allows the patient to access medicine from private pharmacies that have a relationship with us.
Explain more clearly to readers as to what happens to settling the claims for B-Club
We would need the claimant to make a declaration of his loss. This is through writing to Soras for instance. In that case he will say that a fire gutted down his property that he is requesting for a claim. Once we get that letter we activate our assessment process. We have our specialists.
They are tasked with making thorough investigation into the case. You see once the client has made a declaration as I had told you he needs to fill up some documents.
These are used by the investigators for the purposes of verifying the claim. And to ascertain the true level of settling the claim through a report.
How about the police?
Of course police must be involved. I had already told you that. Among the key documents needed is a police report. The reason is to ascertain the cause of the loss. Before settling a claim we have to be very sure about the cause of the loss.
So when do you make a decision to pay?
It depends on a number of factors such as the outcomes of the assessment. However I must say that the claimant needs to collaborate with our assessors in order to conclude the process of assessment. In that case proper documentation must be put in place to conclude assessment.
To the muturage (average citizen) this process looks long, complicated and tiresome. How can you simplify it?
It is not as complicated as you put it. I think what we need to do is to sensitize people to come on board. It is a service not a product. We need to explain the processes and guideline so that more people can get into the net being served by the industry. That is very important.
The second is that we have come up with a check list of documents that make up what is actually a proper claim. To make processing faster you just tick what you have and what you do not have you must chase before filing a claim.
What is your take on the new industry regulation?
It should be seen as a positive development. Though we are operators within the industry we are also citizens of this country. We have to be protected. We have to protect Rwandans. Meaning the we have to adhere to certain rules of the game.
These rules must ensure fair play and these are set by authorities. This is due to the fact that we are managing funds belonging to the people. It is a good thing to be regulated.
However, I must say that this new regulation has just started. With time, improvement on regulation should be expected to make it even better. Part of the new regulation entails that we make periodic reports for the purposes of transparency. This is very important.
Lastly while making a comparison with other countries of the region , Rwanda seems to be having fewer products.
What you are saying is true. To tackle that challenge we have embarked on a major overhaul program to turn around our industry. One is centred around training. This is very important.
The second and this is related to training is that we need to compare ourselves and benchmark with best practises. Once we do that we need to review periodically our organizations.
We need thus to expose our staff to best practises. We are also looking at how we can be more competitive. Motivation is also key as it is related to competitiveness.
Our staff need to feel comfortable while going about their duties. If this happens then levels of output will increase. If output increases and if we step up awareness then the penetration rates will most likely increase.