Employees to be compulsorily insured from next year

Mr. Michael Kofi Andoh, Deputy Commissioner of Insurance

With effect from early next year, with the expected passage of the impending new Insurance Act, all employees in Ghana’s formal sector, will have to be covered by Workmen’s Compensation insurance, taken on their behalf by their respective employers. This move is being made to ensure that the Workmens Compensation Act of 1987 is actually enforced for the benefit of workers who suffer accidents at the work place.

This impending major change to the regulatory framework for Ghana’s insurance industry was revealed on Wednesday by the Deputy Commissioner of Insurance, Michael Kofi Andoh, while speaking at an insurance seminar themed “The Value of Insurance” organized by the Canada Ghana Chamber of Commerce.

Workmen compensation has been compulsory since 1987 but the means by which compensation to workers  who suffer accidents at the work place is to be provided has not been spelt out. This has given employers leeway to evade their legal obligations under the act – in many cases employers are willing to contest legally their obligations under the specific nature of an employee’s accident and in most situations employees are unwilling or unable to go up against their employers in court, which is a prohibitively expensive venture. In other cases, employers have been known to simply plead insufficient resources to meet their obligations.

Expectedly, by making workmens compensation insurance compulsory, workers will be henceforth ensured of adequate compensation as set out by the spirit of the 1987 law since compulsory insurance cover of all workers would guarantee financing of the requisite compensation in the form of claims. The new dispensation will only become effective from sometime next year when the new insurance act is passed by Parliament but the insurance industry is already looking up to it to dramatically improve its fortunes. Insurance penetration in Ghana is abysmally low at less than two percent, with compulsory motor insurance accounting for over 40 percent of total general (non-life) insurance premiums. The industry is hoping that compulsory worksmens’ compensation will have a similarly pivotal effect on its incomes.

Typically statistics on the number of industrial accidents in Ghana are hard to come by and are unreliable anyway since most companies are loathe to report such accidents which is interpreted as not having a good safety record. However, insurance chieftains are enthusiastic that compulsory workmens insurance will significantly raise premium incomes of the companies that offer it.

It is also uncertain how the impending change in the law will affect business costs, but insurance practitioners are insisting that business owners should consider the risks being taken off their hands rather than just the added costs.

The insurance seminar organized by the Canada. Ghana Chamber of Commerce was part of its ongoing effort to provide pertinent information and networking opportunities for its members in particular and the wider business community in general. The seminar addressed several key topics such as bancassurance, private health insurance, workmens compensation and travel insurance among others. Presentations were made by the Deputy Insurance Commissioner himself, Daniel Boi Addo, CEO of Hollard Insurance, Darlington Munhuwani, CEO of Allianz Insurance, Kwesi Attobrah, head of Bancassurance at Ecobank Ghana, David Koku Leonards, Business Solutions Manager at Metropolitan Health Insurance, and Bernice Boachie, head business development strategist at RegencyNem Insurance.