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Monday, January 18, 2021

Ecowas insurers resolve to fast-track process of claim payment

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This is one of the resolutions made by at least 70 senior insurance practitioners from various countries in West Africa who met in The Gambia from 23rd to 25th April.  They converged to discuss important issues concerning the smooth operations of the Ecowas Brown Card Insurance Scheme, an insurance cover for cross-border movement with the Ecowas sub-region.

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It was the first zonal meeting in 2014 and sixth Extra-ordinary General Assembly of the Council of Bureaux of the Ecowas Brown Card Insurance Scheme hosted in The Gambia by The Gambia National Bureau of the Brown Card.

Speaking to reporters at the end of the forum, Mr Bio Adamou, permanent secretary general at the secretariat of the Council of Bureaux of the Ecowas Brown Card, said the meeting has agreed that all national bureaux should put in place a compensation fund which they can use to pay claims quickly.

This agreement was prompted by the fact that settlement of claims under the Brown Card Scheme by the various national bureaux is one of the key challenges eating into the smooth operations of the scheme.

Mr Adamou said this slow payment of claims is even contrary to the very spirit of the provisions of Ecowas protocol that established the scheme.  The protocol says the scheme is to be based on prompt and fast claims settlement.  

“So instead of fast payment, things are slow,” Mr Adamou said.

Mr Henry Jawo, the secretary general of the Gambia national bureau, said although the protocol requires claims payment process to be fast, national bureaux do not have the resources to be able to settle claims promptly.

“They don’t have such resources,” he said.

“They have to wait for the insurance company that issued the insurance cover to settle the claim first before the bureau can settle.  The arrangement is slow and that is the main cause of the delay in payment.”

The insurance officials said lack of claims payment is not an issue under the scheme.  But the long process and slow pace it takes for claims to be paid has been the main hindrance to the scheme.

It is because of this the Council of Bureaux of the Brown Card urged all national bureaux to do their best to put in place the compensation fund.  With the establishment of this fund, national bureaux could pay claims quickly and later the insurance company that issued the cover will reimburse them.

“Once we have that in place, then this slow payment of claims will be a thing of the past,” Mr Jawo said.

He said the process to establish the fund will start in earnest.  The national bureaux will make an effort to start to establish the fund with the support of their member companies.

No deadline is given by which the fund should be fully operational.

The Brown Card is an international insurance certificate that is issued to motorists when they travel from their country of residence to another country within Ecowas.  It covers death, medical expenses, bodily injury and material damage. The scheme was established in 1982 with the objectives to enhance the free movement of road users and foster a real regional integration. 

 

By Lamin Jahateh

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