The government should take the initiative to boost insurance awareness, particularly in rural areas which make up 60% of Pakistan, according to Mr Zeeshan Raza, CEO of UBL Insurers.
In an interview with Golden Village Space, he said that currently, insurers find no necessity to open branches in rural areas “because no one is willing to buy insurance there”.
He added that this is because rural residents are unaware of insurance. For instance, they have no idea about livestock insurance, he said.
He noted that the government had made it compulsory for banks to operate their branches in all urban and rural areas, thus making banking more prominent in the countryside. He said, “The government can exert the same pressure in the case of insurance, urging insurance providers to conduct transactions across the country, but it is failing to do so.”
He noted that health insurance has been promoted to a huge extent in the country through the efforts of Prime Minister Imran Khan in pushing the Sehat Sahulat Programme, a government-run health protection initiative that caters to those below the poverty line. The government is working to launch the programme nationwide.
Mr Raza said, referring to the Prime Minister, said, “If he promotes insurance other than health insurance, it can really facilitate the industry.” He added that non-governmental organisations are contributing too, by buying health insurance for the villages they are helping.
Pakistan’s insurance penetration is 0.85% and the insurance market is worth around PKR80bn ($516m) to PKR100bn a year, he said. Of this, the Pakistani insurance market pays approximately PKR60-70bn to the international market to buy reinsurance.
Mr Raza said that there are currently 29 insurers operating in Pakistan, among which UBL Insurers ranks fifth biggest with a market share of 5%.