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Opinions of Sunday, 23 August 2020

Columnist: NIC

RE: I am totally disappointed in National Insurance Commission

The National Insurance Commission (NIC) The National Insurance Commission (NIC)

Introduction

1. The attention of the National Insurance Commission (NIC) was drawn to an online publication on Ghanaweb.com by Mr. Samuel Dowuona, a policyholder of Enterprise Life Assurance Company (ELAC) who was not happy about services received from ELAC and the Commission. The article was published on Ghanaweb.com on August 2, 2020.

2. The Commission wishes to respond to and clarify some issues raised in the said publication.

Complaint by Petitioner

3. The Commission received a petition, via email, on June 15, 2020 from Mr. Samuel Dowuona.

4. The petition alleged the following:
a. The petitioner has three (3) policies with Enterprise Life Assurance Company (ELAC).

b. These policies were incepted in November 2014. The petitioner authorized deductions to be made for all three (3) policies from his savings account.

c. On April 21, 2015, he asked that the deductions for his three policies be changed from his savings account to his current account.

d. However, from January 2016, ELAC went against the customer’s request and continued taking premiums for his three policies from his savings account. This was from January 2016 to August 2019.

e. However, for the period January to April 2020, premium for two of the policies were taken from the current account as he had previously instructed.
f. He was of the view that this was unethical and unprofessional as well as an invasion of privacy.

g. Mr. Dowuona also alleged that a feature of the policy that protects against inflation, (this ensures that for long term policies the sum assured adjusted in line with inflation) was selected by the agent that sold him the policy without his consent.

NIC’S Immediate Reaction

5. Upon receipt of the petition, the Commission wrote to the petitioner and acknowledged receipt on June 23, 2020.

6. The Commission also wrote to ELAC on the same date, June 23, 2020, for them to respond to the complaint. The Commission gave ELAC a deadline of July 7, 2020 to respond.

ELAC’s response

7. ELAC’s response to the Commission was dated July 7, 2020 but received by the Commission on July 8, 2020.
8. ELAC’s response was as follows:

a. Petitioner incepted three (3) policies in 2014 and authorized that deductions be made from his savings account.

b. Premium Deduction commenced from the savings account in November 2014 until April 2015 when the petitioner requested for a change of accounts from his savings account to his current account for two (2) out of his three (3) policies.

c. According to ELAC, a reconciliation exercise was carried out between the petitioner’s bank and Enterprise Life. After this, without the petitioner’s consent, ELAC started premium deduction from the savings account for all three of the petitioner’s 3 polices.

d. ELAC accepted that the customer consent should have been sought before the change of accounts for premium deduction was done. ELAC apologized for this to the NIC and petitioner.

e. With regard to the inflation protector, ELAC stated that a review of the petitioner’s Proposal Form indicates that he selected it. ELAC however indicated the inflation protector is optional and that the petitioner can stop this at any time. For that purpose, and as with all policies, text notifications are sent to the petitioner, a month before the increments are applied.

f. ELAC confirmed that the issue has been resolved with the petitioner following our letter.

9. The NIC called the petitioner on July 8, 2020, after the receipt of ELAC’s response, and the petitioner confirmed that the issue had been resolved and the case was closed.

Clarification

10. One of the specific issues raised by Mr Dowuona in his publication is that, the NIC imposed a penalty on ELAC as a result of Mr. Dowuona’s petition but the NIC did not compensate him.

It is worth noting that, the NIC did not impose a penalty on ELAC as a result of this petition and secondly, the petitioner did not request that compensation be paid to him for the distress he undoubtedly suffered as well as the expenses incurred in getting the problems resolved. As such the NIC was not in a position to compensate the petitioner.

11. Secondly, Mr Dowuona stated in his article that the NIC responded two clear months after he made his complaint. As stated above, the NIC received Mr.

Dowuona’s complaint on June 15, 2020 and responded to him on June 23, 2020 to acknowledge receipt and assure him of NIC’s commitment to see to the resolution of the matter. Subsequently, the NIC followed up and saw to it that ELAC resolve the matter. Indeed Mr. Dowuona confirmed in a telephone conversation with the NIC on July 8, 2020 that the matter had been resolved to his satisfaction.

Conclusion

12. One of the core mandates of the NIC as per the Insurance Act (2006), Act 724 is the protection of policyholders. The Commission is resolute in its determination to ensure that policyholders are treated fairly by Insurance companies.

13. The NIC hereby encourages members of the public to take advantage of the mechanisms it has instituted to seek redress, as Mr Dowuona did, if they are of the view that they have been unfairly treated by an Insurance company.

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