fbpx

What's Happening?

Healthy Dose of Perspective

ARTICLE BY

SHARE THIS POST

We are all aware of the problems we experience in South Africa, but they are not exclusive to us.

As members of the World Federation of Insurance Intermediaries (WFII), the FIA and other international broker associations are asked on an annual basis to respond to a number of questions to gauge the state of the market and regulatory environment across the various member countries of the WFII. This is ahead of our annual World Council Meeting, which will take place in March this year.

What’s keeping us up at night?

To the question regarding specific challenges keeping executives awake at night in South Africa, the following are some of the responses we received from members:

  • Local insurers’ capacity for risk and ability to take on risk has declined and become more expensive.
  • The imposition of restrictions and subjectivities to cover any amendments to existing contract wordings (e.g. Grid failure exclusion) by insurers and reinsurers has led to a great deal of contract uncertainty and is making the role of the intermediary in affording sound advice to clients very onerous.
  • Insurers are placing more pressure on clients to attend to risk management issues, at the same time as providing less cover at a higher price.
  • We are experiencing increases in cybercrime, where South Africa is known to be a particularly “soft” target.
  • The greylisting of South Africa by the FATF has resulted in extensive additional legislation to address the failings identified in the FATF report.
  • Inadequate consumer knowledge and education on the role of insurance continues to result in under-insurance, poor decision making, unhappy clients and aspersions on the industry.
  • Inadequate planning has resulted in developments in areas prone to environmental hazards, in particular flooding – leading to insurance gaps.

 

This list is by no means exhaustive.

In it together

What is always of interest is how similar the challenges are that we all face – in spite of the varying regulatory regimes, differing markets and political climates. Key on the agenda for this year’s discussions and also focus areas for the international regulators are the following:

  • Financial protection gaps
  • Climate change and, more specifically, flood risks
  • Cyber risks and artificial intelligence
  • Reduction in capacity
  • Pressure on remuneration and market consolidation
  • Consumer vulnerability
  • Consumer education
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion

 

Again, not an exhaustive list.

While we recognise that there are no easy solutions to any of these problems it is perhaps heartening not to feel so alone in the challenges that we face in South Africa, and to know that these issues are being faced by other jurisdictions too.

Seeking solutions

We know that international regulators have been focused on identifying good policy and regulatory practices around many of these items for a number of years; however, it is imperative that the industry also starts to actively engage in finding proactive solutions to these challenges.

At the previous World Council Meeting held in Singapore in 2023, the representatives from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) emphasised that there needs to be a proactive dialogue with intermediaries, as they are the ones closest to the client and they are therefore of the view that it is intermediaries’ responsibility to engage more with regulators around challenges being identified and providing solutions for consideration. To this point, the drive from insurers has been far more prevalent, and hence it is our aim now through the WFII to work more closely with the OECD in relation to the issues of concern, such as protection gaps and cyber, specifically, and provide solutions.

Ultimately even without large-scale solutions, the role of the intermediary – and particularly the emphasis on risk management – is key. Helping raise awareness of actual risks and the need for mitigation measures, tackling negative perceptions around price versus the true benefits of insurance and making the insurance purchase process simpler and easier for the end consumer are just some of the ways that the intermediary can add value to their client and help address some of the greater challenges related to protection gaps, cyber, climate risks and the like.

We encourage all intermediaries to assist us in leading the charge to address these challenges and provide long-term, sustainable solutions for the industry, and we will continue to keep members informed along the way as international and local discussions progress.