Govt, insurance industry should prioritise public awareness – Min. Singh
Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh, has highlighted that more needs to be done to build public understanding of the value of insurance.
Delivering remarks at the 22nd Annual Insurance Education Conference of the Association of Insurance Institutes of the Caribbean (AIIC) at the Ramada Georgetown Princess Hotel on Wednesday, the senior minister underscored that many Guyanese place little importance on insurance, instead seeking to forego it and hope for the best.
But this is not an effective risk management strategy, Dr Singh underscored.
“Far too many households in Guyana are underinsured. People fall into calamitous circumstances, and from a government standpoint, this is a serious issue, because there are far too many people who appear to believe that the government is an insurer. We will step in to do what we can to support the citizens of Guyana, but the truth is that there is an instrument called insurance that is intended to be used to manage your risk,” he stated.
The minister added that both the government and the industry have a responsibility to promote public understanding, awareness, and appreciation of the financial security that insurance offers.
This is important within the context of the rapidly growing economy, as it becomes increasingly necessary for persons to secure their assets.
“More people are working than ever before. Incomes and real incomes in particular are rising, and disposable income is rising. We need to do more to communicate to the growing population of people with the financial capacity now to buy insurance and to manage their risk in a more intelligent way, the industry needs to do more to build public awareness,” he asserted.
Additionally, the government had integrated fiscal incentives in the previous budget, as well as the income tax legislation to encourage the purchase of life and medical insurance.
“We introduced a provision in the Income Tax Act, that the insurance premium paid on a life insurance policy, and a medical insurance policy, up to a specified limit, will be deductible from your taxable income because we wanted to make the cost of insurance more affordable for households and individuals. So, that part of your income that you use to pay, and the insurance premium up to that limit is free of income taxes,” Dr Singh pointed out.
The AIIC is an organisation that aims to promote the establishment and development of insurance institutions across the Caribbean.
This year, the conference is being held under the theme: ‘Insurance and the Economy: Overcoming Emerging Challenges.’