Expanding areas of insurance

Sheikh Kabir Hossain tells The Financial Express

Wednesday, 1 March 2023

Bangladesh Insurance Association (BIA) president Sheikh Kabir Hossain has said observance of the National Insurance Day creates mass awareness rapidly about the insurance sector which remained overlooked for long despite having huge prospects.
"We're settling many claims and issuing many products keeping in mind the observance of the day," Mr Kabir Hossain said in an exclusive interview with The Financial Express (FE) on the eve of the National Insurance Day 2023.
He sees immense importance of such campaign for the sector as it helps create awareness among the general people about the industry.
On recovery from the covid-19 setbacks in every sphere of life and economic activity he said: "We'll have faster recovery than other sectors as insurance is a precondition for any letter of credit (LC) and other major business transactions."
The insurance pioneer, however, feels that lower imports amid global crisis-induced austerity now impacts the sector. "This is a short-term measure by the central bank-- I think this will be withdrawn shortly."
Mr. Hossain, also chairman of a leading non-life insurer, Sonar Bangla Insurance Company Limited, is happy that this year the day is being observed physically after the lapse of two years ince the corona onslaughts. The day had been observed through internet platform following the covid-19 invasion as a global pandemic.
"This day has great significance. It will help generate more interest of the policyholders and general investors as well as insurers," said the president of the BIA, a platform of 81 life-and non-life insurers in Bangladesh.
Mr. Hossain notes that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is a member of the insurance family, so the existing irregularities in the industry will go away gradually.
He recalled the father of the nation was a member of the insurance industry and worked with the Alpha Insurance Company. He said Bangabandhu organised the people of Bangladesh through the insurance sector. "We think the insurance sector is a mechanism which helps connect people across the country intensively."
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman joined as the head of business promotion at Alpha Insurance Company in Dhaka. He used to sit at its Bangabandhu Avenue office in the city. He joined Alpha Insurance on March 01, 1960. The day is being observed to mark that occasion.
Mr. Hossain, along with other members of his association -- BIA -- has been trying to observe the National Insurance Day in recognition of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's contribution to the industry.
"Actually we first proposed to the Prime Minister in 1996 to declare a national day," Mr. Hossain recalled. And prolonged persuasion, at last, came to fruition in 2019 when the cabinet approved it.
He feels that there is now need for an amendment to the insurance act of 2010. "We have proposed to the government to amend the act," he says.
He hopes that the bancassurance business will begin soon. This is a partnership between insurers and banks to sell insurance products.
"The Bangladesh Bank and the IDRA have been working to launch bancassurance."
He expects that the launch will take place within a few months. This will help boost the sector.
On the low penetration rate of insurance, he said this is a neglected area and there is a lack of discipline in the industry, to some extent.
The BIA chief suggests that Bangladesh should expand areas of insurance coverage further in the interest of the sector.
He stressed the need for new and innovative products. There are many new products after the name of Bangabandhu, launched to mark the Day.

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