Jamaica's insurance sector grew in 2020 despite COVID-19 set back
Jump in number of policies while policyholders in 2020 sought higher insurance coverageSunday, June 06, 2021
BY DURRANT PATE
Despite the financial constraints caused by COVID-19 in 2020, it was not enough to stop growth in the insurance sector, which continues to rebound from the pandemic.
The Insurance Association of Jamaica (IAJ) is reporting that the sector has been able to withstand the onslaught of COVID-19 with an increase in the number of policies in force during 2020. In addition, the year saw a greater effort being made by policyholders in securing higher insurance coverage.
IAJ President Dr Adrian Stokes is confident that the sector will record another growth year in 2021, pointing out that success will depend on the Jamaican economy recovering from the pandemic. He disclosed that last year the sector paid out just over just over $60 billion in claims to policy holders.
Some $16.4 billion in general insurance claims were paid out, of which $13.6 billon relates to motor claims and $24 billion in death and living benefits claims from individual life insurance policies. Just over $20 million was paid out in health insurance benefits.
Speaking at the IAJ's post-annual general meeting last week, Dr Stokes reported that the sector was hardest hit by COVID-19 during the months of April and May 2020. However, during the period of June through to December 2020, the sector started to recover in both life and general insurance.
During this period, the IAJ president reported that the sector found creative ways to stand with policyholders, particularly those that were going through difficulties in offering them discounts on premiums, lengthening payments and waiving fees. “The industry's heavy investment in technology over the years has paid dividends, as we were able to respond and pivot quickly by having team members work remotely, meeting online and ramping up the use of electronic payment and service options,” Stokes explained.
High motor vehicle claims hurting
Dr Stokes conceded that the high motor vehicle claims each year is hurting the sector by the way Jamaicans drive on the roads. There were 44,000 motor claims in 2020, which is 846 claims per week, which keeps claim handlers busy around the clock. According to the IAJ president, “we have to do something about the way we drive. Our bad driving habits lead to fatalities on the road and multiple crashes, which impact motor claims.”
To this extent the IAJ called on motorists to take greater care in driving on the roads. Dr Stokes announced that the IAJ has started a pilot run of its Insurance Vehicle Information System (IVIS) database. When fully launched IVIS will facilitate Tax Administration Jamaica to license motor vehicles without the need to present documents physically at the tax office.
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