How much do you pay in claims annually on average?
Payment of claims varies from year to year. It depends on unforeseeable factors such as climatic conditions. But we strive to settle all claims promptly, regardless of their magnitude.
Over the last five years, we have paid in aggregate Shs33 billion. On average, that would amount to Shs6.6 billion per year.
How would you compare Goldstar’s performance with the general growth (or decline) of the industry as a whole?
GoldStar Insurance Company’s performance, in regard to the challenging circumstances outlined above, is commendable, especially as we continue to register underwriting profits. Other key performance indicators such as solvency ratio, loss ratio and cash claims cover all remain way above the industry average.
As part of the Ruparelia Group, did the sale of Crane Bank affect Goldstar Insurance business in any way?
Firstly, let me clarify that the term “Ruparelia Group” does not signify Group in the strict sense as we do not have a holding company with subsidiaries nor do we have any cross shareholdings. So, the reference to the Group is just due to the fact there are common shareholders and directors but each company operates as a completely independent entity.
Crane Bank was a substantial member of this Group and its sale meant loss of business for GoldStar Insurance Company. However, it is noteworthy that all common clients of Crane and Goldstar are continuing to insure with us and we are confident that very shortly, we shall to regain the insurance of the bank.
What is your view about the Insurance Act 2016?
The objective of the Insurance Act 2016 is to remove anomalies encountered in the previous Act and add/improve on provisions lacking in the previous Act, having regard to the growth of the Industry, especially in the number of players.
There are some interesting provisions such as payment of premiums up front – that is to say cash and carry and allowing increase in distribution channels by simplifying the requirements for certain products.
The industry players and the regulator have a huge responsibility to ensure strict adherence and compliance with the new ACT and we wait to see whether the penal provisions of the Act will be properly implemented in the event of non-compliance.
What policy would you like government to implement to improve insurance business in Uganda?
The government needs to be cognisant of the low penetration level of insurance in our economy – Uganda’s penetration level is the lowest in East Africa. It is, therefore, imperative for government to support the industry’s initiatives in increasing the penetration level and at least not dampen these initiatives through imposing new and higher levels of taxes and levies, making it even more difficult for average Ugandans to access insurance.
Government needs to take a long term view by supporting the insurance industry so that it may grow to levels in other countries where it then contributes in the growth of the private sector.
We are most appreciative of the government’s recent initiative in supporting Agricultural Insurance by providing funding to subsidise farmers to access insurance services.
What are your projections for this financial year? And what do you have in store for the Insurance market?
We are optimistic for 2017 as there are already positive signs that the economic situation is improving. There is now stronger hope and expectation for the investment in the oil sector and we should be able to see the benefits of other infrastructure projects nearing fruition – such as the Entebbe Express Highway, Karuma and Isimba hydropower dams and the continuing reduction in the Central Bank Rate to spur the growth of the private sector.
Accordingly GoldStar Insurance Company is projecting a significant growth in premiums as well as underwriting profits
What are some of the peculiar trends you have observed in this business in this country?
Of late, there are certainly peculiar trends in the insurance industry, with entry of an international life insurer – Prudential and exit of AIG. There are similar trends in the broking fraternity with AON being disposed to a private equity firm and entry of so many new brokers.
There is also greater activity on mergers and acquisitions.
But the most disturbing trend is the unprofessional and unconventional methods some players are adopting to increase their market share.
How does the future of insurance business in Uganda look like?
The future of insurance business in any country is aligned to the general economy of that country and Uganda is no exception.
Uganda’s economy has undergone two to three tough years, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Various economic forecasts, including the recent one from International Monetary Fund indicate that we should start witnessing growth of 5 per cent or more over the next few years.