Insurance companies scrutinised

Insurance companies scrutinised

THE role of insurance companies came under the spotlight in the National Assembly last week, with MPs united in saying that insurance firms often implement the fine print in contracts usually not read by clients, leading to their disadvantage.

Premiums were often unnecessarily high and clients not well advised when taking out policies. “The time has come for us to revisit the purpose insurance companies serve for the ordinary Namibians,” said, the mover of the motion, Elma Dienda of the Congress of Democrats (CoD), last week.”Not all questions on application forms when taking out an insurance seem to be understood by all Namibians.People living with HIV-AIDS and vulnerable people are the ones most affected by this practice, due to the fine print that is not always spelt out and explained [by insurance brokers],” Dienda pointed out.Insurance companies often charged high monthly premiums that remained unaffordable for ordinary people and payouts were made on the principle of “living poor to die rich,” the CoD politician said.Insurance policies often did not address needs of ordinary citizens, she added.Group schemes offered to employers often did not cover insurance for employees after work hours.Car insurance values were not automatically lowered each year in line with the depreciation of the vehicle.”You as a client have to ask the insurance company yourself each year to lower the monthly premium for the car as its value decreases, otherwise you pay the same instalments when you bought the car for the whole period you pay off your car,” Dienda said.She asked the House to refer her motion to a Parliamentary Standing Committee to consult with the insurance sector and relevant financial institutions to eventually achieve changes in existing laws to make insurance policies compatible with the needs of ordinary citizens and to let insurance brokers educate and inform clients better and in layman’s terms.Deputy Labour Minister Petrus Ilonga rose to say insurance companies should give bonus points or lower premiums for clients who drive accident-free for five or ten years or longer, while Nudo Parliamentarian Arnold Tjihuiko complained that clients were often taken for a ride by insurance companies “because of the small print.”Defence Minister Charles Namoloh recalled that large numbers of insurance brokers pounced on NDF officers shortly after Independence to sell all kinds of insurance to them.”We pay too much for too little benefit – the details are hidden and insurance brokers don’t tell clients the whole truth [about their policies],” Namoloh stated.Dr Hage Geingob complained that the competition commission was still not in operation, otherwise insurance companies could be brought before that entity.The debate continues today.”The time has come for us to revisit the purpose insurance companies serve for the ordinary Namibians,” said, the mover of the motion, Elma Dienda of the Congress of Democrats (CoD), last week.”Not all questions on application forms when taking out an insurance seem to be understood by all Namibians.People living with HIV-AIDS and vulnerable people are the ones most affected by this practice, due to the fine print that is not always spelt out and explained [by insurance brokers],” Dienda pointed out.Insurance companies often charged high monthly premiums that remained unaffordable for ordinary people and payouts were made on the principle of “living poor to die rich,” the CoD politician said.Insurance policies often did not address needs of ordinary citizens, she added.Group schemes offered to employers often did not cover insurance for employees after work hours.Car insurance values were not automatically lowered each year in line with the depreciation of the vehicle.”You as a client have to ask the insurance company yourself each year to lower the monthly premium for the car as its value decreases, otherwise you pay the same instalments when you bought the car for the whole period you pay off your car,” Dienda said.She asked the House to refer her motion to a Parliamentary Standing Committee to consult with the insurance sector and relevant financial institutions to eventually achieve changes in existing laws to make insurance policies compatible with the needs of ordinary citizens and to let insurance brokers educate and inform clients better and in layman’s terms.Deputy Labour Minister Petrus Ilonga rose to say insurance companies should give bonus points or lower premiums for clients who drive accident-free for five or ten years or longer, while Nudo Parliamentarian Arnold Tjihuiko complained that clients were often taken for a ride by insurance companies “because of the small print.”Defence Minister Charles Namoloh recalled that large numbers of insurance brokers pounced on NDF officers shortly after Independence to sell all kinds of insurance to them.”We pay too much for too little benefit – the details are hidden and insurance brokers don’t tell clients the whole truth [about their policies],” Namoloh stated.Dr Hage Geingob complained that the competition commission was still not in operation, otherwise insurance companies could be brought before that entity.The debate continues today.

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