Zim banks on new insurance bill

THE Insurance and Pensions Commissions (Ipec) says the proposed Insurance Bill will introduce some improvements to Zimbabwe’s insurance consumer protection framework.

Blessmore Kazengura, Ipec’s acting commissioner of insurance, pension and provident funds, said the upcoming legislation is part of the regulatory body’s efforts to improve consumer protection in the local insurance industry.     

“One of the functions of Ipec is to ensure that consumers of insurance and pension products are protected. There is a bill that will be introduced soon which will make provisions for the improvement of the protection of consumers in the local industry,” he told journalists at an insurance and pensions workshop in Harare recently.

Kazengura said Ipec’s consumer education programmes are another example of the regulator’s keenness on protection.
“To us, there is no better way to protect consumers of financial products than imparting adequate knowledge regarding product features, their terms and conditions, consumer rights, obligations and responsibilities.

“The primary pillar of consumer protection is financial literacy, particularly an awareness of the elementary principles and statutes that governs the buying, selling or servicing of insurance and pension products,” he said.

The commissioner noted that a secondary pillar of protection “is the effective supervision of market conduct through enhanced disclosure, risk-based prudential supervision and safety nets such as Policyholder Protection Funds or Insurance Guarantee Funds”.
He implored journalists to lend the regulator a hand in educating the masses as a way of improving consumer protection.
“For instance, we would want you to educate the public about their insurance and pension rights.

“A case in point, being that employees who are contributing to a pension scheme must check whether their contributions are being remitted to their respective pension funds. We have over $600 million in pension contribution arrears meaning that if the trend continues like that, those who are contributing may not get their pension benefits at retirement, as the pension fund would not have received such contributions,” he said.

“We also have about 50 000 pensioners and beneficiaries who have not been claiming their pension benefits to the tune of $30 million.

“Such beneficiaries of the unclaimed benefits could be living in poverty yet they have money lying idle at the pension funds. It is, therefore, your duty as responsible citizens to educate pension scheme members about their right to benefits when they are due,” Kazengura added.