A Kumasi Circuit court has convicted two insurance fraudsters for selling fake insurance stickers to unsuspecting members of the general public.
The conviction was occasioned by series of investigations conducted by the Police after they were picked up some time early this year by a joint task force of the Police and the National Insurance Commission (NIC).
The convicts, Mavis Nyarko and Baafi Kwasi Appiah who were both Kumasi-based insurance agents were, at the end of the trial convicted to pay a fine of GH¢6,000 each or in default serve a two-year jail term.
In addition to their conviction, the NIC will have the two convicts blacklisted from transacting any form of insurance business.
There are currently other suspects facing trial in various courts in Kumasi and other parts of the country for similar offences with the view to flushing out these miscreants from the system.
Caution to Members of the Insuring Public
Commenting on the conviction, the Commissioner of Insurance, Dr. Justice Ofori admonished members of the public to “in their own interest and in the interest of innocent third parties, expect to receive SMS alerts immediately after purchasing motor insurance from only Insurance Companies in good standing as published in the media and the NIC website www.nicgh.org in November 2020.
It is instructive to note that the NIC had earlier caused the arrest of some perpetrators of this crime and the culprits are still under investigations.
The Motor Insurance Database (MID)
In spite of the introduction of the Motor Insurance Database (MID) with electronic stickers from the NIC which replaced the old system of issuing manual motor insurance stickers upon renewal or purchase of new motor insurance policies, the NIC said certain unscrupulous persons have still not relented in their fictitious ways of perpetrating this crime to the detriment of unsuspecting members of the general public.
The Commissioner lamented that the reality only dawns on these motorists / patrons when involved in accidents and innocent third party victims of such accidents suffer lack of compensation.
Huge Loss to the State
It is estimated that the insurance sector lost at least GH¢325 million to fraudsters and fake insurance operatives in 2018 alone.
This figure is expected to keep rising as the years go by, hence the introduction of the MID to nip this phenomenon in the bud.
The Honour: ‘Ever since you assumed the position of the Commissioner of Insurance and Chief Executive Officer of the National Insurance Commission…your achievements, key among which is the introduction of the Motor Insurance Database (MID) to checkmate fake motor insurance in Ghana cannot go unnoticed. Your institution of an Insurance Education Fund to build capacity of the industry and educate the insuring public to see the value in insuring their lives and property are phenomenal. The GJA hereby confers on you: ‘HONORARY MEMBER OF THE GJA’.
These are the words as contained in the citation that accompanied the decoration of Mr. Justice Ofori, Commissioner of Insurance at the recently held 25th GJA Awards.
Life has an interesting way of dealing with us as humans. Things happen; plans do change; mistakes are made and corrected and events unfold. To mitigate the consequences of these occurrences, the concept of insurance was developed.
His entry into the insurance profession was somehow accidental. After his last paper at the country’s premier University, University of Ghana, he had the opportunity to sojourn in Canada for a reasonably long while. It was during this period that he decided to study courses in Banking and Insurance – a career identified!
From 1990 to 2004, Mr. Ofori held various positions at McLarens Toplis in Canada, Allianz Canada and CGI Canada as a Licensed Independent Claims Adjuster. He has over 28 years of experience in Insurance with almost 4 of this being the Regulator.
Driven by the desire to return to help his country, Mr. Ofori returned to Ghana in 2004 and decided to have a practical stint with the local insurance industry.
His first local employment was with Vanguard Assurance where the then Managing Director, Mr. Emmanuel Mahama Baba gave him the opportunity as the Senior Manager in charge of the Corporate Department and he did not disappoint. This thus, led to his appointment as the first and the longest serving Director of the Ghana Insurance College (GIC) before His Excellency the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo appointed him as the Commissioner of Insurance.
Mr. Ofori has indeed justified the confidence reposed in him by the President! He could best be described as a process and a business-minded personality blessed with organisational and results-oriented acumen.
The CEOs’ CEO
As the leader of the National Insurance Commission (NIC) which oversees operations of all insurance entities in Ghana, he turned around the business-as-usual phase of the Industry to that of a revived one that keeps everyone on his or her toes.
There is no time wasted on implementation strategies as he believes in his personal mantra: ‘Anything conceived to be done at all must be done now’.
The leadership skills in him was discovered as a young hockey-player in his days at the secondary school where he earned the nickname: ‘Konkoronkor’ due to his leadership skills on the field of play.
To suit his physical attributes and drive, he earned the name ‘Ammunition’ at the Vandal City. He believes there is only one university in the world – ‘the University of Commonwealth Hall’.
With high hopes of changing the not-so-encouraging trend in the awareness creation bit of the industry, he championed and continues to do so in providing basic insurance education to all categories of people.
Passion for Insurance Education
The launch of the Basic Insurance Education with the Ghana Education Service (GES) has been one of his dreams crystalizing as he believes that when people understand [during their formative ages] the importance of insurance rather than the compulsion to purchase insurance, uptake becomes a norm! This collaboration is expected to result in the introduction of insurance as a basic course of study at the second cycle institutions.
The commencement of the training for National Service Personnel posted to the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service sets in motion similar arrangements for recruits and Officers of other security agencies i.e. Ghana Armed Forces, Ghana National Fire Service, Ghana Prisons Service, Ghana Immigration Service, Customs Excise and Preventive Services, etc.
‘If media personnel get it right, then the people would get the message’ is his firm conviction. With this in mind and through his leadership, the NIC got closer to the media fraternity as it provided a series of training programmes for journalists in Ghana on the basics of insurance. This was with the view to creating awareness and also ensure that media reportage is in its rightful place with journalists having a firm understanding of the business of insurance.
Mr. Ofori has done a lot and continues to do so for the development and growth of the insurance industry by way of policy formulation, project initiatives and implementation as well as training and manpower development.
Employment Creation for the youth
The training of 10,000 Youth as Insurance Agents is part of the awareness creation and employment creation strategy which will go a long way to propel the growth of the industry as well as create employment for the youth.
Introduction of the Motor Insurance Database to the world
The introduction of the Motor Insurance Database (MID) to checkmate fake motor insurances gives the assurance to the general public that the insurance on their vehicles have valid insurance. This is perhaps the biggest game-changer in the insurance industry in any country as it is the first of its kind not only in Africa but in the world to have certain unique features as in instant SMS upon the purchase of insurance.
Mr. Ofori and the Ghana Insurance College
Mr. Ofori who believes that the progress of the insurance industry is hinged on conscious and consistent manpower development. Within a decade, he superintended the training of over 300 insurance professionals who attained the ACII status at the time he was the Director of the Ghana Insurance College. “Iron sharpeneth iron”, he believes.
It is little wonder many a practitioner and a past student under his tutelage calls him the Insurance Schwarzenegger. This apt description may not only be because of his physical and mental toughness but his passion for manpower needs and development in any field.
The NIC now recognizes qualifications in insurance obtained from the Ghana Insurance College (GIC) for the chartered insurer status. With this credential, an insurance practitioner can hold Principal Officer positions such as Chief Executive Officer or Chief Operating Officer which was previously the preserve of the Chartered Insurance Institute CII UK or Chartered Insurance Professionals, CIP (Canada).
He has spearheaded the construction of an ultra-modern structure and permanent ultra-modern-state-of-the-art campus for the GIC at Dodowa as the College’s current Governing Council Chairman.
He also serves on the Board of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA). As a Member of the West African Insurance Institute (WAII) Governing Board, Mr. Ofori is also an Executive Member of the ECOWAS Brown Card Council of Bureaux.
Industry Practitioners Training
Through his leadership and support of the Board of Directors, the NIC’s Insurance Education Fund instituted to build the capacity of the industry and educate the insuring public has made it possible since 2018 to have a minimum of eight (8) mainly residential capacity-building programmes organized annually.
This is done for all levels of the industry personnel including Directors and Shareholders, Principal Officers and middle level Management Staff of Insurance entities.
IPSAS – NIC blazes the trail
It is gratifying to know that through his leadership, the NIC has implemented the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). The Commission’s 2019 financial statements are therefore fully compliant with the IPSAS. This makes the NIC one of the few state agencies to have blazed the trail globally ahead of the set deadline for compliance with IPSAS’ international best practices.
Strengthening of Stakeholder Relationships
The Commission has strengthened its close cordial working relationship with key stakeholder agencies including the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) and the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service, National Road Safety Authority (NRSA), the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) etc. Each of these organisations is helping to uphold the NIC’s mission of increasing public confidence in insurance in diverse ways under their various jurisdictions.
Creation of 3 additional Regional Offices
In order to improve its presence nationwide, and bring the policy holder protection services to the doorsteps of all the people in all parts of the country, the Commission has created three (3) additional Regional Offices bringing the total number of regional offices to seven (7). These are the Koforidua, Cape Coast and the Sunyani Regional Offices.
Enhanced Relationship with Donor Agencies
The NIC’s relationships with donor agencies such as the German Development Corporation (GIZ) and Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) continue to yield the needed results with their continuous support to the financial inclusion agenda.
Mr. Ofori holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Ghana, Legon and a Diploma with Honours in Banking and Finance from the Toronto School of Business, Canada. He also possesses degrees from the York University, Canada and the University of Toronto, Canada. He is certified in Management (CIM) by the Canadian Institute of Management and is a licensed Independent Adjuster, Ontario – Canada.
Mr. Ofori has an International Executive MBA degree from the Paris Graduate School of Management and is a Fellow of the Insurance Institute of Canada (IIC) and a Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP). He is also a Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Ghana (CIIG).
The future of Ghana’s Insurance industry
With insurance uptake coverage over 30% of the country’s population, he believes a lot more work needs to be done.
For him, insurance is tied to the economic growth of Ghana. He explained that insurance needs to be brought to the doorstep of many low income earners and educating them on its benefits as this would serve their immediate and future needs.
As the Regulator of the Insurance industry in Ghana, Mr. Ofori indicated that complaints about some attitudes of certain insurance companies towards their clients will not be left unattended as the Commission has a core mandate to protect the interest of policyholders.
Apart from his love for insurance, he lives the saying: ‘a healthy mind thrives better in a healthy body’. For him: “I feel guilty any time I fail to exercise”.
The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) over the weekend conferred ‘Honorary Membership’ status on the Commissioner of Insurance, Justice Yaw Ofori, at the 25th awards ceremony of the association.
This is in recognition for the Commissioner’s initiatives which include the introduction of the Motor Insurance Database (MID) and championing the institution of an Insurance Education Fund to build the capacity of the industry and educate the insuring public to see the value in insuring their lives and property.
Ever since he assumed the position of the Commissioner of Insurance and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Insurance Commission(NIC), Justice Ofori has demonstrated his leadership and management skills by championing many initiatives and developments in the insurance space. Indeed, a lot of things have changed.
He believes in the media in awareness creation and education, as he became a friend of the media, the general public and the GJA.
His contribution to the development of the insurance industry in Ghana and his achievements, key among which is the introduction of the MID to checkmate fake motor insurance in Ghana, could not go unnoticed.
Speaking to a cross-section of the media, Mr. Ofori expressed joy at the fact that in spite of what he thought was just doing his work, he didn’t know there were observers out there.
He then advised all to do the best they can in their “small corners”.
He expressed his appreciation to the GJA for such an honours done him.
The Commissioner of Insurance, Mr. Justice Ofori, has advised Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and Chief Finance Officers (CFOs) of insurance companies in the country to take advantage of the risk management opportunities occasioned by the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the commissioner, these include the development of new products to meet the demands of the era as this will help them weather the storm against any unforeseen risks that may rear their ugly heads in the future.
Interacting with the top level Management of the country’s insurance industry at a capacity-building workshop organized for CEOs and CFOs of insurance companies, Mr. Ofori urged the participants to also pay particular attention to their financials in order to grow their business operations.
CEOs and CFOs of insurance companies were educated by seasoned insurance practitioners among others in various subjects during the 5-day workshop on how to handle business operations in the face of the pandemic.
Impact of COVID-19
Speaking on the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the insurance industry, Mr. Ofori advised that, insurers should engage their clients in question-and-answer sessions regularly, as this will enable them know the prudence or otherwise of the risks they are accepting. This approach, he added, will also engender trust between the insurers and their clients.
Touching on the minimum capital, the Commissioner used the occasion to encourage companies to consider mergers as a strategy for struggling companies especially as the deadline to meeting the minimum capital of GH¢50million (i.e. for direct underwriters) fast approaches.
Minimum Capital Requirement
The announcement of the new minimum capital requirements (MCR) in June 2019 has provided the opportunity to insurance entities to adequately prepare to recapitalize by the June 30, 2021 deadline.
The new MCR is with the view to improving the operational efficiency and financial capacity of regulated entities to improve retention and profitability which will naturally culminate into prompt claims payment thus inspiring confidence amongst members of the insuring public. Mergers and acquisitions are possible strategic decisions that insurers may have to take in order to meet the new requirements.
The National Insurance Commission (NIC) has commenced the training of some 250 National Service Personnel posted to the Urban Traffic Management Unit of the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service.
The training which forms part of the Commission’s structured agenda to create insurance awareness in the Country is expected to be replicated across all other Security Agencies.
Speaking at the launch of the training programme in Accra, the Commissioner of Insurance, Mr. Justice Yaw Ofori hinted: “it is worthy to note that today’s launch marks the commencement of series of insurance training programmes outlined and targeted at the Security Agencies i.e, the Police, the Military, Prisons, Fire Service, Immigration and other allied agencies”.
He further stated that this awareness creation approach by the Insurance Regulator “has the over-arching object of deepening financial literacy, as well as, expanding the financial inclusion net”.
The training of the service personnel which is being facilitated by the Ghana Insurance College is expected to equip them in the novel Motor Insurance Database (MID) in particular and insurance in general.
He admonished the participants to take the training seriously as “some of you may, at the end of the service, have the desire to develop a career in insurance which has abundant opportunities”.
Mr. Ofori pledged the continuous support of the NIC to collaborate with the Police in order to bring sanity on to our roads and the overall desire to bring insurance to the doorsteps of every Ghanaian.
On his part, the Director of the Ghana Insurance College, Mr. Richard Okyere disclosed that the College which is the main training arm of the Insurance Industry has so far trained an impressive 4,000 out of a targeted 10,000 since the NIC started the training of the youth as Insurance Agents in June 2019. This move, Mr. Okyere said, has created employment in the insurance industry for many young people.
In a keynote speech read on behalf of the Inspector-General of Police, the Director-General, Private Security Organisations of the Police Service, COP Mr. Alphonse Adu-Amankwah advised the service personnel to take advantage of the many opportunities that abound in the insurance industry.
He disclosed that the Urban Traffic Management module was developed and implemented to support the MTTD to control and manage traffic within major towns and cities in Ghana. “So far the progress in terms of achievements has been tremendous”, he said.
He advised the participants to work assiduously as “this job is not an easy one. You need to be meticulous and very careful about how you go about your duties”, he cautioned.
The NIC is the supervisory and regulatory body of all insurance entities in Ghana backed by Act 2006 (Act 724) and has for some time now championed the training of all categories of persons as part of the Commission’s mandate of making everyone aware of the needs and benefits of insurance.
The National Insurance Commission (NIC) says it will soon hit the metropolitan and district business enclaves of the country to intensify its sensitization and enforcement drive on the compulsory property insurance.
This was revealed by the Commissioner of the Insurance, Mr Justice Yaw Ofori, in a recent statement.
Mr Ofori indicated that though the Insurance Law, Act 724 of 2006 made it compulsory for privately owned business entities to insure their properties, many are yet to comply.
The law, per Sections 183 and 184, makes it mandatory for all commercial properties either under construction or completed, to have valid insurance certificates.
The compulsory property insurance is to provide financial protection against legal liabilities arising from accidents that cause property damage, bodily injury or death to the public. Occupiers (tenants) of commercial buildings can also benefit from taking fire insurance on their businesses because they may be held liable to the public.
The Insurance Commissioner cited the June 3, 2015 disaster as a typical example of a commercial property that should provide compensation to victims of the accident.
The impending enforcement exercise, he hinted is to ensure that Sections 183 and 184 of the Insurance Act are complied within the interest of owners, occupiers and the general public.
He lamented the fact that many people spend fortunes in setting up businesses but have a foot-dragging attitude towards paying a little premium to protect these investments. One needs not be an owner before legally insuring a property but an occupier has equal responsibilities too, he stressed.
“People who come on to your property to transact business are seen as invitees as such and you are responsible for their well-being,” he cautioned.
He used the opportunity to clear any ambiguity regarding what property insurance covers.
According to the Commissioner, property insurance is the same as fire insurance as the term is used interchangeably in certain western jurisdictions but conventionally acceptable anywhere in the world.
He also indicated that it is not only the peril, fire that is covered but other perils such as earthquake, flood, thunderstorm, burglary are all covered under fire insurance.
Justice Ofori stated that as a country, earth tremors occur and the Richter scale records between 2 to 3 tremors monthly without people noticing.
He said although the law was not specific about churches and other religious places of worship, it is important to have them insure their properties because they could be held liable for property damage, injuries or death to the public arising out of their negligence.
The Compulsory Commercial Property Insurance Taskforce comprises officials of the NIC and other relevant stakeholders such as the Ghana Police Service and the Ghana National Fire Service.
The National Insurance Commission (NIC) together with the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service, will soon commence a nationwide exercise aimed at enforcing the Motor Insurance Database (MID) introduced by the NIC in January 2020.
The objective of the joint task force is to clamp down on patrons and dealers of fake motor insurance, in a bid to reduce the number of uninsured vehicles on our roads, while protecting the interest of policyholders and the general public.
Motorists are, therefore, advised to ensure they have valid motor insurances in order to avoid a brush with the Law. Already, some unscrupulous persons allegedly dealing in fake insurance stickers are currently facing prosecution.
Training of Police MTTD Personnel
According to Mr Justice Yaw Ofori, Commissioner of Insurance, the Commission had completed a nationwide Training of Trainers (ToT) programme on the MID for some 400 personnel of the MTTD.
The MID, he stated, comes with electronic stickers with QR Codes and other security features, and makes it possible for the purchasers of motor insurance to receive real-time SMS, confirming the authenticity of their motor insurance policy.
Similarly, motorists as well as the general public, are also able to utilise a short code (*920*57#) to authenticate the validity of their insurance policies.
Mr. Ofori further stated that about 1,000 Gota phones (hand-held devices) are currently being configured with the necessary security features to aid the police in detecting the validity of motor insurance policies.
MID performance and challenges
On the performance of the MID, Mr Ofori stated that the system has recorded over 580,000 electronic stickers, so far, indicating the growing confidence in the system, as most Motorists now buy valid insurances with approved entities.
All old policies issued prior to January 20, 2020, have been uploaded onto the database, and their new electronic stickers will be issued upon renewal.
Benefits of the MID
Mr. Ofori noted the benefits of the MID to motorists, passengers, and the economy of Ghana would include:
MID and ‘Okada’ business
On the heels of a recently issued statement by the Commission to regulated insurance entities not to insure motorcycles and tricycles used to carry fare-paying passengers, Mr Ofori stated that the Laws of the country do not permit the carriage of fare-paying passengers by these cycles.
“We have to abide by the Law as clearly stipulated in Regulation 128 of the Road Traffic Regulations, 2012 (Legislative Instrument 2180),” he cautioned.
Advice to the Public
Mr. Ofori admonished, particularly passengers, to ensure that before they board any commercial vehicle or accept lifts from anybody, they should check if the vehicle in question has valid insurance by dialing the MID short code *920*57#, to ensure they are adequately secured.
The National Insurance Commission, NIC, has vowed to clamp down on persons still engaged in the production of fake Motor Insurance stickers.
The Commission says these activities do not only violate its laws, but also put the lives of motorists and other persons at risk.
The NIC estimates that about 40 percent of vehicles on the roads are either not insured or are having fake insurance, hence the introduction of the Motor Insurance Database in January this year to deal with the menace.
However, some persons are still engaged in the illegality.
The Commission teamed up with the police to arrest a 24-year old man suspected to be part of a syndicate producing fake motor insurance stickers in Kumasi, the Commissioner of Insurance, Justice Ofori, said the NIC will keep working to sanitize the industry.
“This is an indication that the Commission is not resting, despite the introduction of the Motor Insurance database. We know that there are bad guys out there and whatever you do they will try to undermine it. The Kumasi operation was successful, and we are ready to embark on a similar operation anywhere in the country”he noted.
“We are working so much with the MTTD and we believe that with such a collaboration it will take us far so my advice to the bad guys is that they should stay out of this business. We are here to protect the insured and the general public and we would do whatever it takes to get this done” he stressed.
This year, the Commission has caused the arrests of a number of people issuing fake motor insurance stickers. These include the arrest of the Insurance Agent, 72-year old Nana Kodua Marfoh for submitting fake documents to the Kumasi Area Office of the National Insurance Commission (NIC).
Two Agents of MILLENNIUM INSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED have also been arrested for possessing fake ALLIANZ INSURANCE sticker booklets also at the premises of the same Kumasi DVLA Office.
The NIC Motor Insurance Database
The Motor Insurance Database (MID) was implemented on January 1, 2020 with the objective to curb the menace of some unscrupulous persons issuing fake motor insurance to unsuspecting members of the general public thus endangering lives and property.
Currently, a total of 333,467 newly issued electronic stickers have been already captured on the MID portal since its implementation in January this year.
To Verify the Validity of your Motor Insurance
Follow the instructions by entering the vehicle registration number.
The Insurance industry in Ghana have made a total donation of One million one hundred and five thousand Ghana cedis (GHC1,105,000) to the COVID 19 Trust Fund.
This was in response to the clarion call made by the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo, after he had established the Covid-19 National Trust Fund with the view of soliciting support from Ghanaians, as the country fights the coronavirus pandemic.
The donors comprising the industry’s key stakeholders led by its regulatory body, the National Insurance Commission (NIC), included the Ghana Insurers Association (GIA), the Insurance Brokers Association of Ghana (IBAG) and the Chartered Insurance Institute of Ghana (CIIG).
The rest are the Ghana Insurance College (GIC), the West Africa Insurance Companies Association (WAICA) [headquartered in Accra, Ghana] and the ECOWAS Brown Card Ghana Office.
The delegation led by the Commissioner of Insurance, Justice Ofori, also included the CIIG President, Rev. Asante Marfoh Ahenkorah; the IBAG President, Mrs Lena Adu-Kofi and the Director of the Ghana Insurance College (GIC), Richard Okyere.
Other members of the delegation were Deputy Commissioner of Insurance, Michael Kofi Andoh; second Vice-President of the GIA, Victor Obeng Adiyiah, and Chief Executive Officer of the ECOWAS Brown Card Office, Ghana, Mr Patrick Agyekum.
They indicated that this collective gesture was also triggered by the fact that as the main risk management machinery of the country’s economy, it was deemed necessary to support in the fight to protect its insureds and prospective ones, without whose existence the sector would be significantly affected.
Receiving the cheques presented variously to the Chairperson of the Fund, Madam Sophia Akuffo, expressed gratitude to the insurance industry for their thoughtfulness and commitment to support a worthy cause.
Donations into the Fund will, to a large extent, help in supplementing and complementing government’s effort in cushioning particularly the vulnerable in society, who may be affected by some of the tough measures outlined to deal with the pandemic.
The responses from corporate Ghana and some individuals have so far been encouraging.