“Towards the day all Sri Lankans are insured – ‘Are we ready?’”

Thursday, 10 August 2017 00:49 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

profileThe eighth annual National Forum for Life Insurance Advisors (NAFLIA) organised by the Insurance Association of Sri Lanka (IASL), will be held on 17 August at the BMICH. The forum’s core purpose is to provide a platform for the Life Insurance fraternity to share knowledge and key insights pertaining to new developments in the industry and technology. The subject of this year’s event will leverage on the main topic “Towards the day all Sri Lankans are insured – ‘Are we ready?’”

To present more insight on this year’s event, we caught up with Insurance Association of Sri Lanka (IASL) President Deepthi Lokuarachchi and IASL’s Marketing and Sales Forum Chairman Hashra Weerawardena to find out more. The following are excerpts from the interview:

Q: You mentioned a different approach with this year’s event. Can you tell us in what way you intend to make this happen?

Lokuarachchi: The overall structure of the event will remain more or less the same as it has been in the previous years. However, the keynote address and some panel discussions will bring in thoughts and views of key personnel who are not from the Insurance industry. 

Weerawardena: Every year, NAFLIA attracts experts from within the Insurance Industry as well as top level sales advisors to share their ideas at this forum. This year we intend to bring in know-how exchange from other industries as well by inviting the movers and shakers from outside the insurance sector to be present at panel discussions so that varied perspectives can be brought in providing greater diversity and different perspectives about Life Insurance. 

Q: What role does the MSF play in the organisation of such events?

Lokuarachchi: The IASL is a collective body representing all companies both in the Life and General Insurance fields. The IASL has various subcommittees that are tasked with looking at key areas such as Actuarial, Finance and Technical sectors, which affect the industry. As such, the Marketing and Sales Forum (MSF) is a subcommittee of the IASL represented by key personnel involved in the marketing and distribution of each company. Therefore, NAFLIA is the annual coming together of Life Insurance advisors and distribution management, facilitated by the Marketing and Sales Forum under the guidance of the IASL. 

Weerawardena: This is the eightth consecutive time that NAFLIA is being held, organised by a dedicated team of likeminded individuals of the MSF. Needless to say the MSF is the main driving force for events pertaining to both the General and Life Insurance sectors of the Sri Lankan Insurance Industry as mentioned earlier. Recently we concluded a similar event organised for the second consecutive time for the General Insurance fraternity (GISCO – the General Insurance Sales Congress).

Q: What is the primary purpose that drives NAFLIA?

Lokuarachchi: The primary driving force in organising NAFLIA is to provide a forum for Life Insurance advisors to share experiences and gain knowledge. As such these events have in their respective agendas, presentations and panel discussions by eminent personalities in the management of Insurance firms, industry experts and top advisors from major industries in the country so that the audience will be able to receive input from a wider spectrum. 

Weerawardena: Salesmen who can convince a customer to purchase an intangible product, and a benefit, which may not accrue to him or her during their lifetime, in particular and in the greater part of the world in general, predominantly drive the Sri Lankan Life Insurance industry. The benefits of this unique product will be enjoyed by their loved ones, which will enable a family unit continuity and prosperity. Life Insurance will therefore bring in that certainty to the uncertainty that we all live in; the forum for life insurance advisors (NAFLIA) provides an opportunity to the Life Insurance advisors to sharpen their skills and share ideas about successes within the fraternity. 

Q: How do events such as NAFLIA serve as a means of improving the position of Life Insurance in the country?

Lokuarachchi: Primarily the pre-and post event publicity pertaining to the event and points discussed provide the general public with information regarding the importance of Insurance and it also provides a stimulus for advisors to enhance their performance to be able to qualify for a part of this event. Together, these two facts help the industry boost its image both from the point of greater publicity via the media as well as greater activation at ground level.

Weerawardena: Until sudden, unforeseen and unfortunate situations occur, the general population would not think of the significance of having Insurance. This is the real situation, even though in today’s nuclear family setup it can be a necessity. Events such as NAFLIA enable the Insurance advisor to be more professional in the pre-sale approach as well as in the post sale service that serves to be an integral part of a good life Insurance advisor’s key role in society. These events propel the advisor to be a financial consultant, risk assessor, and more importantly a friend when in need.

Q: What future plans does IASL have in store to increase the penetration level of insurance awareness in Sri Lanka? 

Lokuarachchi: The IASL through the MSF has been able to lobby to the Government with the help of the Insurance Board of Sri Lanka and have declared 1 September as National Insurance Day along with the launch of a commemorative stamp that would be unveiled to mark this date. Further, the month of September will be commemorated as ‘Insurance Awareness Month’, where hype would be created in the media as well as on ground level through various activations and promotions. Weerawardena: Insurance awareness and penetration in Sri Lanka is unfortunately still at a low level, when compared with some of the other countries in the region and this entity still has a long way to go. Our theme this year is very apt in this regard and speaks of our vision for Sri Lanka in the not too distant future when we wait for the day when Sri Lankans will embrace the concept of insurance. 

Many events are being planned for 1 September and throughout the month of September in order to make the public aware of the need for insurance and to take the message of insurance to all corners of Sri Lanka.