NEVER CAUGHT UNAWARES

Tanzania 2018 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Dr. Baghayo A. Saqware, Commissioner of Insurance, Tanzania Insurance Regulatory Authority (TIRA), on achieving universal healthcare coverage, the brilliance of microinsurance, and how to partner with public and private entities to increase the industry's penetration.

Dr. Baghayo A. Saqware
BIOGRAPHY
After earning his PhD, Dr. Baghayo A. Saqware started his career as a compliance officer with the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) before joining the institute of finance management as a lecturer in insurance, social protection, and risk management for 14 years. Prior to joining TIRA as a Commissioner of Insurance, Saqware held number management positions; he was Dean of the faculty of insurance and social protection at the institute and Secretary to the Insurance Technical Team that advises the Bank of Tanzania on insurance and social protection-related issues. Saqware has extensive experience in leadership, research, and consultancies at various levels.

How can TIRA harness and expand Tanzania's already growing microinsurance industry?

There are two things to flag here: the first relies on TIRA encouraging as many enterprises, business communities, and insurance companies as possible to expand their products to microinsurance. The second factor is public education and awareness about the usefulness and importance of insurance coverage. If we can achieve both objectives, then we can resolve both problems of supply and demand for microinsurance. In addition, we should tweak our regulatory involvement to provide more incentives for institutions that sell microinsurance serving the lower-income end of the population.

What are the challenges the insurance sector faces in terms of putting in place solid healthcare insurance solutions?

It is a government initiative to have universal health insurance cover in Tanzania, and TIRA supports these efforts wholeheartedly. We seek to coordinate those areas of health coverage that the public sector cannot serve. This supplemental role is important because we know different people have different health coverage needs, and private institutions can find a way to serve the community at large. One of the challenges that has come to my attention is that there is a problem with the pricing of healthcare facilities and services. Most health insurance companies complain about the sustainability of health insurance funds, as there is currently no price control mechanism, particularly when it comes to certain diagnoses and the prices of drugs.

What impact could a successful universal healthcare coverage scheme have on the industry?

Using insurance as the financing model for healthcare services will significantly boost awareness of what insurance entails, something we need in the private sector. If the public understands health insurance, it is much easier to understand other types of insurance; thus, the industry will grow. Secondly, there are certain categories of clients that will go beyond universal health coverage. While primary healthcare services are completely financed by the universal healthcare scheme, the next layer of coverage will go to the private sector, where people will purchase private health insurance. Therefore, successful healthcare will improve peoples' wellbeing and increase productivity and the need for different categories with private insurers.

What are the key pillars of the TIRA's strategy to increase insurance awareness, leading, eventually, to greater market penetration?

We do public awareness work through our National Insurance Education Strategy, which we have shared with every stakeholder and for which we have received support from various institutions. The National Insurance Education Strategy comprises three major areas of intervention. The first is to provide awareness education to journalists in Tanzania so that they can pass on their understanding to the public at large. The second is through the education system—primary, secondary, and tertiary—for which we work alongside the Minister of Education. The third part of our strategy targets the general public through the usual public awareness programs. We also highly encourage insurers to design public education programs and increase corporate social responsibility.

What will TIRA do in the coming year to ensure that the insurance industry grows alongside other sectors?

The approval and implementation of National Insurance Policy will spearhead the growth of the insurance industry here. One of the salient features of this policy is the expansion of insurance products, at least in part at the urging of coordinated efforts from both public and private institutions. Part of our mandate is to see business entities working without fear and interference from unregulated entities. If clients' expectations are not being met, we will face problems. As a regulator, we will thus be strict in terms of market and professional conduct. We will register all insurance experts in Tanzania and monitor their behavior in terms of how they treat customers. We can then de-register an expert or company from the insurance business if they engage in malpractice.