Ms Miriam Magala, CEO-Uganda-Insurers-Association.

The Uganda Insurers Association (UIA) has announced a 12 percent growth in the industry’s gross premium in the first half of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016, paying over Shs109 billion in claims.

The industry players also announced plans to improve the business environment, calling upon government to ensure a positive tax regime that favours their business, particularly removing Value Added Tax (VAT) imposed on basic premiums.

Further, the insurers say they are lobbying government to for the remove Value Added Tax (VAT) on premiums and stamp duty on agriculture insurance and a reduction in stamp duty on Motor Third Party, micro insurance and individual lines.

“We are therefore lobbying to remove VAT and reinstate the original stamp duty (Shs5, 000) to ensure that every Ugandan can enjoy the benefits that insurance provides,” UIA Chairman Deepak Pandey said.

He added: “In addition to paying the basic premium, our customers pay an additional 18% in VAT and UGX 35,000 which has further fuelled the misconception that insurance is expensive,” they say. This situation, the insurers say, is accentuated by the fact that individuals who purchase insurance for themselves are unable to claim VAT.

Pandey said the 12 percent growth is a result of aggressive consumer awareness programs as well as streamlining of business practice to provide better service, noting that there was significant growth in the personal accident, individual life and medical insurance categories, signifying improved financial literacy.

“The public is beginning to pay more attention to circumstances that will impact not only themselves as individuals but their families,” he said, adding that notable growth was registered in bonds, public liability and engineering.

According to the report, personal accident, individual lie, medical, bonds, public liability and engineering grew 47%, 40%, 17%, 74%, 45% and 22% respectively.

“As the industry and economy continue to grow, we continue to receive queries regarding our capacity to cover large and specialist risks such as oil and gas as well as government projects. The industry as a whole has in place mechanisms to absorb any size of risk,” he said.

“Local capacity has further been evidenced by the market’s capacity to establish a national reinsurance company-Uganda Re- which also shares in other international risks. The growth we see in premium coupled with the payment of genuine claims speak to our capacity and commitment to paying genuine claims, “Ms. Miriam Magala, Chief Executive Officer, UIA, said.

Over the past five years, insurers have paid over UGX 950 billion in claims, growing at an average of 14% every year. In the first half of 2017, over UGX 109BN was paid in claims. 36% of this was paid in motor insurance, 31% in medical insurance claims and 7% in personal accident claims.

The UIA officials say in the periods under review, there has been a significant decrease in the number of claims for theft and burglary, public liability and group life.

“A decline in group life payments is actually positive as it means that policyholders are living longer and can make better investment, protection and savings decisions,” they add.

The Association notes that progress has been made since the inception of the insurance subsidy under the Uganda Agriculture Insurance Scheme (UAIS) which was approved in the budget for financial year 2016/17.

By the end of June 2017, UGX 1.5 billion had been written in premium with an end year projection of Shs4 billion.

The Association also announced they had given out Shs760 million provided by government under the Uganda Agriculture Insurance Scheme (UAIS) as at 30th June 2017. It is projected to hit Shs 2.1 billion   by end of December.

“The subsidy currently covers 26,892 farmers and we expect to insure 50,000 farmers by year end and there are plans to provide agriculture insurance embedded products through NAADS/OWC programs and MAAIF. It is also the intention to persuade the financial institutions to do the same and have all their agriculture credit products insured,” Pandey said.

“The uptake of the subsidy has been distributed throughout the country with the average region being 12 billion in exposure and covers crops, livestock and fisheries. The current notified claims as at August 2107 amounted to Shs 1.2 billion,” he said.

The industry still faces challenges particularly, insurance fraud and tax, which affects not only the affordability of services but the turnaround time on claims as well.

“Insurance fraud is a malpractice which affects turnaround time as due care must be taken to weed the fraudulent from the genuine claims. As a result, insurers are forced to introduce more stringent measures to ensure that fraud; money laundering and other vices are dealt with, “said Ms. Magala.

“To improve on this and ensure that our clients are not unnecessarily inconvenienced, we have partnered with the Insurance Regulatory Authority of Uganda (IRA) to, among others, ensure the sharing of information on fraud, the blacklisting of individuals/companies where fraud has been proven as well as the establishment of an insurance fraud desk. This desk will be manned by specialised police officers who will investigate suspected and detected insurance fraud cases,” she added.

According to the KPMG East Africa Insurance Fraud Risk Survey 2015, detected fraud is estimated about $10,000 (Shs36m) while total fraud in the sector at $500,000 (Shs1.7b) annually. The report also notes that fraud in the sector is still rampant with at least 12 per cent of all insurance players in Uganda confirming that they are exposed to insurance fraud.