Tuesday, November 15, 2016
The 12th International Microinsurance Conference kicked off in Colombo, Sri Lanka today. Opening speeches included welcome remarks by Dirk Pereira, President of the Insurance Association of Sri Lanka, and host organisation of the event, and Thomas Loster and Michael McCord, respectively Chairman of the Munich Re Foundation and Chair of the Microinsurance Network, co-organising entities of the conference.
Pereira, explained that the conference is an important stepping stone to accomplish what the regulator has set out to do in Sri Lanka. Loster, highlighted that the use of technology to bring microinsurance to scale will be a core topic at the event, as Mobile Network operators (MNOs) provide microinsurance coverage to some 40 million people across Asia today. McCord underlined that this conference will focus on more technical aspects, in order to help participants improve their work in microinsurance. What is needed are proportionate regulations that recognise the needs of low-income people, insurers who understand how to address the market, distribution channels, and organisations that have access to low income people. We need the market to understand and trust microinsurance. We need actuaries to price products, we need technology, and we need associations", he added.
Idrani Sugathadesa, of the Sri Lankan Insurance Board, highlighted how microinsurance is to be considered a key tool in addressing the protection gap. Rohan Sachev, Global Emerging Markets Insurance Leader at Ernst & Young warned that 30-40% of world's population are low-income and only 1-9% of them have insurance. More focus by the sector is needed on health & agriculture, with the current focus on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as a good start. He highlighted that governments are taking more initiatives to develop products for health, in India, and catastrophe, in Africa, and that FinTech start-ups and satellite data give product development a boost. He concluded that drivers of change include mobile phones, growth of MSMEs, and government and regulators developing dedicated products and regulations. CAT and index insurance will become more important, and bundling of products will help take-up.
Ravi Karunanayaka, Minister of Finance, in Sri Lanka highlighted that in the Ministry’s 2017 budget there is much focus on social inclusion. “I call for the industry in Sri Lanka to not only focus on credit life. Government will support disaster coverage in 2017. Health insurance for 4,5 million kids in schools will cover LKR 200,000 in 2017. Furthermore, support will be given to development of agricultural insurance because farming is our most important sector” He explained. “I would like to invite all commercial and microinsurance companies to place their head office in Sri Lanka. No taxes will be charged!” he concluded.
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