The Insurers Association of Zambia (IAZ) is a member organisation for all licensed insurers and re- insurers companies in the country. IAZ was formed in 1997 by the first few insurance companies that were licensed following the liberalisation of the economy. ZSIC General Insurance Limited (Zambia State Insurance Corporation Limited at the time) had been the only insurance company in the country, allowed to carry out insurance business from 1968 to 1991. However, following the opening up of the industry more companies started operating, which brought about the need to have a common body to speak on behalf of the industry and to champion the interests of insurance companies.
The Association’s inaugural meeting was held on the 29th of August 1997, with Mr. Lawrence Sikutwa
being appointed as the first president. In the 2005 amendment to the Insurance Act of 1997, IAZ was recognised as a mandatory membership body for all companies that carry on insurance business in the country, which strengthened its capacity to effectively discharge its mandate.
On the 12th of January 2013, the Association held an Extra Ordinary General meeting for the sole purpose of adopting a new constitution and a new code of conduct, to make it more effective and relevant to the growing insurance industry. The new constitution enabled the formation of a permanent secretariat, and the creation of a Board of Directors that would be in charge of providing oversight on the operations of the Association.
The objectives for IAZ in the new constitution were agreed as follows:
(a) protect, promote and advance the common interests of Members, including the taking of any necessary measures whenever the business of a Member is, or is likely to be, affected by an action or proposed action of any authority, organisation, body or person;
(b)promote professionalism in the conduct of insurance business by the Members;
(c) promote agreement and co-operation among the Members on matters of mutual interest;
(d) provide resolution mechanisms for any disputes among Members;
(e) act as a consultant to the Government of the Republic of Zambia in matters related to insurance;
(f) consult, co-operate with, or be affiliated to, other associations or similar bodies within and outside Zambia with regards to
matters of mutual interest;
(g) promote knowledge and a clearer understanding of insurance;
(h) gather and collate data, information and market-wide statistics from Members, for the purpose of determining market trends and satisfying any other requirements set by the Board from time to time;
(i) manage the assets and funds realised from contributions by Members and out of investments made for
the benefit of the Members; and
(j) do all such things connected with, or incidental to the objects of the Association.
The new code of conduct re-emphasises the need for members to conduct their businesses with the utmost professionalism. The principal objectives of the new code are to:
(a) promote underwriting discipline;
(b) protect and promote the reputation of insurers;
(c) promote cooperation among Members;
(d) avoid unhealthy competition; and
(e) facilitate orderly expansion of insurance business in Zambia.
A disciplinary committeehas been put in place to ensure that all members abide by the code of conduct as a way for the Association to self-regulate.
The IAZ permanent secretariat was opened on the 1st of July 2013, recording a historical milestone for the Association as it gets itself ready to re-position the insurers and reinsurers as critical constituents of the Zambian financial services industry.
The role of the Association is to ensure that a favorable climate exists for insurance companies, to enable them to carry out their business in a professional manner. The Association also considers itself as the insurance ambassador to the Zambian public – the fact that IAZ is not promoting any particular company, but merely highlighting the beneficial aspects of insurance to the country, places it in a uniquely favorable position to be able to champion the growth of the insurance sector.
IAZ currently has three main councils, namely the Reinsurance Council, the General Insurance Council and the Life Council. In turn, these councils have a number of sub-committees under them to ensure that all aspects of the insurance and reinsurance member concerns are dealt with bythe appropriate council, before being taken to the Board. The Board of Directors report to the general assembly once a year through the Annual General Meeting (AGM).
The current insurance penetration level in the country is below 1.5%, a situation which clearly points to the fact that there is scope for the industry and in particular the insurance companies to grow. IAZ is committed to ensuring that this is actualised, and is in the process of developing a new five year strategic plan that is based on the follows core pillars:
Area of Strategic Focus 1:
Increase the insurance penetration level to 3% by 2018
- i) Increase consumer education initiatives
- ii) Advocate for a favorable regulatory framework for the insurance industry
iii) Champion the development of insurance products for the low income sector
- iv) Improve the relationship with government agencies, the PIA, like- minded institutions and other industry stakeholders.
Area of Strategic Focus 2:
Enhance the quality of
insurers technical skills Strategic objectives: i) Develop a robust training programme for insurers
- ii) Develop partnerships with international insurance training providers
iii) Spear-head the inclusion of an insurance degree in public universities
- iv) Develop partnerships with insurance professional bodies.
Area of Strategic Focus 3:
Achieve a positive public perception of insurers
- i) Proactively use social media and other e-tools to interact with insurance customers
- ii) Initiate the creation of an insurance ombudsman service
iii) Implement a brand building strategy for insurers
- iv) Ensure accurate information about insurance is available to the public.
Area of Strategic Focus 4:
Transform IAZ into an indispensable partner for all insurers and reinsurers in Zambia
- i) Facilitate the creation of common databases for the industry
- ii) Maintain up-to-date statistics for the Zambian market and beyond
iii) Conduct relevant research for use by members of the Association
- iv) Strengthen the operation of the Disciplinary Committee
- v) Strengthen the operation of the IAZ governance systems
- vi) Run a sustainable IAZ secretariat.
The Association has come a long way. It is hoped that the current developments and the adoption of the five year strategic plan will ensure that the insurance industry is viewed as a partner in national development.