Insurance agents in Tunisia have voiced their disagreement with the second version of the draft Insurance Code being prepared by the General Insurance Committee (CGA), saying that proposed changes would harm their profession and the interests of the insured.
The crux of the issue is that the proposed Bill would authorise other intermediaries (banks, leasing companies, merchant banks, factoring companies, telephone companies, etc) to sell insurance, a move which worries insurance agents, according to local media reports.
"This project threatens the interests of 1,100 SMEs that employ 5,000 people, contribute 60% to the insurance market, collect more than 50% of premiums and serve more than 80% of the insured," said Mr Mohamed Acheb, President of the National Union of General Insurance Agents of Tunisia (SNAGAT).
He alleged that the drafting of the new Insurance Code was carried out unilaterally by parties that are “disconnected from the realities of the Tunisian market". The agents say that the way in which the work was carried out has not involved them sufficiently.
He added, "After a first draft was largely contested by industry players, we were received by the CGA; but our proposals have not been taken into account. The second version was not communicated to us directly and the CGA which consulted only the FTUSA (Tunisian Federation of Insurance Companies), despite the requirement by the Ministry of Finance for a consensus to be reached by all parties.”
"Apart from allowing non-specialised establishments to sell insurance, this measure opens the door to all sorts of serious abuses, such as forced sales or the application of far more expensive tariffs," Mr Acheb said.
Mr Moncef Felli, SNAGAT general secretary, said that "any extension of insurance intermediation must be preceded by a serious study on the impact on existing networks, especially that of agents, and the contributions of new networks ".
He also criticised the proposed bar on insurance agents from selling certain products like Islamic insurance, while brokers, banks, the post office and all other new networks would be able to sell these products. "It's unfair, inefficient, and makes no sense," he said.
SNAGAT said that it is open to any proposal for consultation on amending the insurance law.