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The registrar of the Pensions and Insurance Authority (PIA) has praised the Insurance Institute of Zambia’s efforts to promote professional development.
PIA attaches great importance to professional development. A cadre of professional workers ultimately reduces the frequency of complaints from the insurance public and adds value to the companies by the reduction of costs associated with disputes, said Chris Mapipo, speaking at the institutes certificate presentation in Ndola.
The importance of such training came amid concerns from the PIA over standards in the industry.
The pensions and insurance authority as regulator is very concerned by the low levels of professionalism and integrity being exhibited by some of the practitioners in the industry. Today the incidence of fraud in the industry is high. PIA has been receiving reports of fraudulent motor cover notes issued to foreigners at various borders by licensed and unlicensed insurance agents, he added.
Acknowledging the institutes first course, he looked forward to more in the future and said: I am aware that one of the most important objectives of the institute is to enhance professionalism in the pensions and insurance industry. This seminar is but the first step toward actualising this noble objective.
The Pensions and Insurance Authoruty has written to all insurance companies informing them that all their agents must have undertaken the ten-day course offered by Zambia Insurance Business College Trust as a licensing requirement for 2007.
The challenge for the institute and the Zambia Insurance Business College Trust is to ensure that you rise to this challenge and continuously provides suitable professional development training to employees in the industry, he told institute members, adding that the institute had come up with proposals for minimum qualifications for various levels of staff, with clerical staff expected to have at least a national insurance certificate, and those in supervisory or middle management positions to have at least a national diploma in insurance or its equivalent.
Those at director and chief executive officer levels in licensed insurance companies and other entities in future will be required to be fully qualified associates or fellows of the institute, either in risk management, insurance or the actuarial field.
We are also considering casting the net wider to even include the administration of a proper and fit test for board directors. This would assist in avoiding the situation where non-professionals get appointed merely on the basis of their experience. This will weed out people who masquerade as insurance experts and curtail incidents were expatriates with no discernible qualifications and experience are employed and eventually frustrate better qualified and experienced Zambians as was the case at one of the insurance companies in Zambia, said Mapipo.
The challenge is for the institute to systematically and, on a sustained basis, uplift the skills of its members in the industry in all areas of insurance practice, risk management, loss adjustment, medical underwriting etc, and - of critical importance - encourage and demand integrity from your members as one of the key benchmarks. The institute is thus being challenged to identify companies that are not encouraging professionalism and report them to PIA for appropriate action, he added, challenging the institute to introduce appropriate professional training for the specific needs of different categories of stakeholders and co-ordinate with IIZA, ZIBCT and stakeholders in the industry continuous and sustainable professional development in Zambia.
He also called for a formidable system of accreditation of stakeholders in the insurance industry and urged the institute to maintain a pivotal role as a watchdog against both local and foreign threats to the stability, growth, development and positive contribution of the pensions and insurance industry to the economy of Zambia by setting high standards and best practice for professionals.
Inviting graduates at the ceremony into the group of dedicated insurance advisors, he warned them that the PIA and the public expected high standards of service delivery from them.
Todays consumers are more knowledgeable and they know exactly what they want to get out of the service you present to them. Once you gain your customers confidence through qualitative and honest service delivery, you will find this profession very rewarding. I now implore you to go out and serve the public to the best of your abilities using the professional knowledge you have gained from this seminar, he told them.
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