Laying emphasis on massive publicity to motivate people to expand insurance coverage in the country, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday urged insurance companies to provide services giving utmost priority to their customers' interest.
"Insurance is a service-oriented profession. Both the government and non-government insurance companies have to work concertedly with the regulatory authority to make it popular and bring the services to people's doorstep, alongside giving the customers' interest highest priority," she said, reports BSS.
The premier was addressing the opening ceremony of National Insurance Day-2021 at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC). She joined the programme virtually from her official residence Ganabhaban.
She asked insurance companies to make the people aware about insurance that they will get facilities in their bad times through opening insurance policies.
"You [companies] have to conduct more mass campaigns so they (people) become inspired about insurance," she added.
National Insurance Day-2021 was observed on Monday in the country in a befitting manner with the theme of "Mujib Borsher Ongikar, Bima Hok Sobar".
The great architect of independence, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman joined Alpha Insurance Company on 1 March 1960 taking insurance as a profession.
To commemorate this day, the government observes National Insurance Day on 1 March every year.
On this day, four eminent personalities were given special honours for their significant contribution to the insurance sector.
On behalf of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal handed over the crest of honours to the recipients, and distributed Bangabandhu Education Insurance to four students.
A total of 50,000 students are being given this Bangabandhu Education Insurance.
Senior Secretary of Financial Institutions Division Md. Ashadul Islam delivered welcome address at the function with Mustafa Kamal in the chair.
Bangladesh Insurance Association President Sheikh Kabir Hossain also spoke on the occasion.
At the function, a documentary on the insurance sector was screened.
The prime minister said insurance would be more important with the expansion of the country's economy and that's why the insurance companies should pay more concentration on awareness building among the people.
Sheikh Hasina also stressed the necessity of timely payment clearance from the insurance companies, saying that "it has to be ensured that people get insurance money as per their insurance or actual damage."
In the country some people, she said, have the tendency to collect more money from insurance companies through artificial accidents.
Although this type of tendency has reduced or stopped at this moment, but the companies should pay heed to it and send skilled and efficient people for inquiry, she added.
The prime minister referred to the time befitting initiatives of government on insurance through the implementation of National Insurance Policy-2014.
She said they have introduced expatriate worker insurance for migrant workers and crop insurance in limited scale for hoar people so they can overcome the damages caused by flood and other natural disasters.
"Health insurance needs to be launched on a massive scale in the country. Our people are not well aware but I hope they will become aware after the Covid-19 pandemic," she continued.
The premier extended her gratitude to Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority (IDRA) as it introduced "Bangabandhu Education Insurance", "Bangabandhu Security Insurance" and "Bangabandhu Sportsmen's Comprehensive Insurance" on the occasion of Mujib Year.
Mentioning the Bangabandhu Education Insurance as a great initiative, she said it would ensure the uninterrupted academic life of students in the time of any physical disability or unexpected death of their parents.
Briefly highlighting different measures taken by her government for the development of the insurance sector, the prime minister said state-of-the-art technology based unified messaging platform has been introduced to protect the interest of insurance customers.
Besides, a Tk632 crore project, financed by both government and World Bank, is being implemented for the automation and capacity strengthening of Bangladesh Insurance Academy, Sadharan Bima Corporation, Jibon Bima Corporation and IDRA, she added.
Sheikh Hasina went on saying the government is also sending five students to the United Kingdom for higher education in Actuarial science under a scholarship programme to enhance professional excellence.
She said Bangabandhu after independence set up four insurance corporations — Surma, Rupsa, Teesta and karnaphuli– nationalizing 49 local and foreign insurance companies through issuing Bangladesh Insurance (Nationalization) Order-1972, and also established National Insurance Corporation to regulate these four organizations.
Later, he established Jibon Bima Corporation for life insurance and Sadharan Bima Corporation for non-life insurance by scraping the five corporations enacting Insurance Corporation Act-1973 for the development of the country's insurance sector, she added.
The premier said Jibon Bima Corporation and Sadharan Bima Corporation have been still providing insurance services to the people while Bangladesh Insurance Academy was also established by the Father of the Nation.
Speaking on the occasion, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said the insurance sector has made progress in the last 10 years, but it failed to progress in line with the resources and capabilities of this sector.
Mentioning that the scope of products in the insurance sector needs to be expanded, the finance minister said sectors that have not yet come under insurance coverage need to be worked on. "We are trying to bring all government resources under insurance coverage."
In developed countries, all lives and properties are insured, the situation is not the same in Bangladesh, Minister Kamal noted. "Insurance premiums in our country are much higher. Insurance companies need to reduce the amount of their premiums."
He asked the companies to fix premiums at reasonable levels on the basis of mutual discussions to make sure that everyone can be covered by life insurance.
Speaking as a special guest on the occasion, Sheikh Kabir Hossain, president of Bangladesh Insurance Association, said 12 lakh families are currently covered by insurance in the country. "We are working to increase people's confidence in the insurance sector."
He said the first and foremost problem in the insurance sector is that the Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority (IDRA) does not have a permanent manpower.
Those who are currently working with the institution need to be made permanent, he suggested.
In his welcome address, Asadul Islam, senior secretary of the Banking and Financial Institutions Division under the Ministry of Finance, said the premium income of the insurance sector has increased by 126.60% in the last 10 years, while the rate of payment of insurance claims has increased by 53% and the number of customers has risen by 51%.
With the consent of the prime minister, Bangabandhu Education Insurance Certificates were conferred to four students as a part of the target to provide insurance facilities to 50,000 students.
The students are Afia Fahmida Prabhati, a student of Naw Mahal Model Government Primary School in Mymensingh; Ryan Mostafa Rahat, a student of IET Government High School in Narayanganj; Ishrat Jahan Ikma, a student of Birshreshtha Matiur Rahman Dakhil Madrasa in Narsingdi; and Kawsar Hasan Bhuiyan, a student of Gazipur Technical School and College.
The finance minister handed over the certificates to the students.
Earlier on the day, four eminent personalities were honoured for their contribution to the insurance sector. They are Late Nazmul Haque Siddique, Late Abdul Majid, Late M Moidul Islam and Lutfar Rahman.