Many insurance policies or products were designed base on the identification of a social need. The primary role of insurance is to assist individuals and organizations. This is the main reason why all insurance practitioners and professionals must therefore adhere to high ethical standards when considering what product, policy, or coverage might be suitable for a given exposure. Insurance professionals also need to consider what premium would be reasonable to charge for the policy or coverage, and whether the purchaser has confidence in the product to solve or meet his/her social need.
Background of Insurance
Workmen Compensation Insurance
A clear example of insurance to meet the social need is the concept of workers’ compensation insurance. This provides compensation on behalf of the employer to the employee when he/she experiences any work-related injuries or death. This covers the cost to workers and employers, both in a financial and a social sense. This insurance policy is not compulsory in Ghana now. But the workmen compensation Act gives a responsibility to the employer to compensate the employee for any work-related injury or death.
This is most parts of the world began during the industrial revolution and continued into the early part of the twentieth century. Before this Act, no-fault workers’ compensation was available. Injured employees could only receive payment for work-related injury or illness if they successfully sued the employer, which was often difficult. Employers, meanwhile, had to pay defense costs for each claim filed by an injured worker. Many injured workers turned to charitable organizations for financial assistance, but these organizations were eventually overwhelmed.
In response to the Act, the insurance industry fulfilled its social responsibility by developing an insurance product that is not based on negligence and assists injured workers. Workers’ compensation insurance remains a key resource for both employers and employees by protecting employers and providing workers with quick recovery and compensation for work-related injuries or illnesses. In addition to these observable benefits to individuals and employers, workers’ compensation also benefits society at large by, for example, reducing lawsuits and promoting commerce in most litigation-prone areas.
It is still difficult in Ghana to know if employees are being compensated fairly by their employers for work-related injuries. This is one of the reasons why it should be compulsory for employers to have workmen’s compensation insurance.
By 1929, over 6000 people were killed annually in road accidents. Many of these accident victims and their dependents were unable to recover damages because the motorist concerned in the accident was uninsured and they were also not in the position to compensate the victims. To protect accident victims, many countries acted by making third-party liability insurance compulsory or having security with the Accountant General.
In Ghana, the Motor third party Act is Act 1958. The following are a few of the things you need to know about your motor third insurance Act 1958;
“Subject to the provisions of this Act, it shall not be lawful for any person to use or cause or permit any other person to use a motor vehicle on a road, unless there is in force about the user of the vehicle by that person or that other person, as the case may be, such policy of insurance or such a security in respect of third-party risks as complies with the requirements of this Act. If any person acts in contravention of this section he shall be guilty of an offense and shall, on summary conviction thereof before a Resident Magistrate, be liable to a penalty not exceeding two thousand dollars or to imprisonment, with or without hard labour, for a term not exceeding six months or both penalty and imprisonment”.
Fire insurance similarly arose in response to a social need. Through the seventeenth century, many homes were built and roofed entirely of wood and dry leaves respectively. And because there was no public fire protection, a fire often destroyed the building. Groups of homeowners responded by pooling their resources to maintain a fire brigade that would fight fires at members’ residences. Members’ homes were identified with nonflammable (usually metal) fire marks. Without a fire mark, homeowners had no guarantee that anyone would help them extinguish ablaze. The sharing of loss serves the needs of the individual and the community as a whole.
Long-Term Survival of Insurers is key
The concern for social responsibility gave rise to the insurance industry in terms of marine insurance, liability insurance, and many others. Currently, the focus on social responsibility has given businesses the need to become successful. Social responsibility hopes to compel organizations to focus their goals and objectives on long-term survival and sustained growth. Furthermore, understanding social responsibility remains vital to insurers.
Insurers must serve the public trust and maintain careful stewardship of money designated for the benefit of policyholders and claimants—all to ensure that the organizations will have adequate funds available to pay covered claims. All insurance professionals share this responsibility because if an insurer fails, then its insureds, employees, investors, and business partners, as well as claimants, regulator, and other stakeholders, would suffer dire consequences.
Insurance activities should have the interest and the welfare of the general public at heart. This is the main reason why insurance practitioners should never delay genuine claims. They also have to advise all claimants to seek other available compensation when they repudiate their claim due to a term, warranty, or clause in the policy. Insurance Professionals should be aware of the physical environment in which they work. Their activities should not harm the environment, and they should cooperate with the public and with governing bodies in finding ways to protect and improve the environment. This can be done, for instance, by developing new products and services that support green building, reduced energy consumption, and conservation methods. Insurers have responded to heightened awareness of the costs and implications of energy use by creating insurance products to address emerging environmental concerns and the industries that have arisen to address those concerns.
Meeting their social responsibility may also serve other needs of insurance professionals. For example, an insurance professional may volunteer to lead classes or to serve as a guest lecturer in high school. The insurance professional can teach students about insurance products. There is yet a greater reward to society and to business as those students will be educated and become future insurance consumers.
An insurer’s investments also reflect an awareness of its social responsibility. Insurers often invest in bonds, which provide funding for government, for example, to build roads or complete other public projects. Insurers thus play a key role in improving the lives of others by the payment of compensation and policy benefits. Insurers can also foster innovation and new industry by investing in corporate equities and bonds. Such investments fuel the economic engines and enable the growth of business. This is made possible by the judicious investment of the premiums the insurer collects. These investments are made with an eye toward good long-term results.
In recognising social responsibilities and taking actions to improve the world, insurance professionals serve a vital need. By developing more diverse insurance products and then making these products available to customers at a reasonable price, insurers enable more consumers to purchase the products, enhancing economic confidence and setting the scene for continual innovation.
Let us assess how as a Nation, we can use insurance to reduce the effects of unemployment, effects of possible earthquake and flood damage, improve our basic health system, proper care for the aged, even eliminating mad people from the street to care properly for them and others. Most jurisdictons have built a resilent economy and this is partly because they have better insurance schemes in all aspect of the economy. Let’s do it now or never!!!.
The writer is a Chartered Insurer and an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute of United Kingdom and also Ghana (ACII-UK, ACIIG
Navigating the Legal Landscape of Insurance, American Institute for Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters. Edited by Martin J. Frappolli
Source: By Justice Peprah AGYEI