Promises, Perils of New Guidelines on Insurance Digital Platforms in Tanzania

The fees and licensing requirements enumerated in the guideline might in one way or the other pose threats to potential IDPs operators and entry-level startups who have been griping about bureaucratic processes and other regulatory impediments.

The Tanzania Insurance Regulatory Authority (TIRA) has issued the Insurance Digital Platforms Guidelines, 2022, intended to establish an effective regulatory and supervisory system for Insurance Digital Platforms (IDPs) and which will apply to people operating IDPs and the Registrants (Insurance Companies) licensed by the authority to provide insurance services.

According to these guidelines, IDPs means a digital or related network that provides information, or complete insurance solutions, between insurance registrants and customers by enabling access to information, advertisement, purchasing and/or comparison of prices and benefits of insurance products from different insurers.

According to TIRA, there has been a number of unregulated digital platforms in Tanzania that are used as enablers for the transaction of the insurance business exposing the market to regulatory, reputational and other risks among other things.

With these new guidelines, therefore, all people currently transacting insurance business through digital platforms are required to submit applications for licensing of their platforms as IDPs within six months of commencement of the guidelines, which is May 1, 2022.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, many insurers in the country have been increasingly taking interest in the digitization of their products and services so as to cater for the lockdown service’s needs.

According to available information, it was during this time that insurers started exploring innovative technologies and collaborating with technology partners in order to develop new tools and products.

According to studies conducted in the area, the global market for IDPs was estimated at $102.2 billion in the year 2020, the number which is projected to reach $169.2 billion by the year 2026. This translates to why there is a need of having proper supervisory and licensing guidelines for this market evolution of IDPs.

TIRA’s new guidelines state that the payment for a platform license is Sh2,500,000 as a registration fee. Sh25,000 as an application fee to be paid annually, and an annual fee of Sh750,000.

These payments have to be accompanied by a clearance letter, or approval, from Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA); a certified copy of the certificate of incorporation; the principal officer possessing the qualifications as specified under the Insurance Act Cap 394; professional indemnity insurance at a minimum sum assured of Sh100,000,000; and cyber liability insurance at a limit to be determined and approved by TIRA.

Other requirements include all times possession of adequate information and technology security infrastructure supported by a robust backup system for data; to establish and maintain a comprehensive business continuity plan to facilitate seamless continuity of its services to users.

It is good that the regulator has seen the need to regulate IDPs because the main advantage is that the guidelines are going to encourage the evolvement of IDPs, increasing the distribution, penetration, and availability of various insurance services and products to all age groups and in an easy way in the Tanzanian market.

However, it is worth noting that the fees and licensing requirements enumerated in the guideline might in one way or the other pose threats to potential IDPs operators and entry-level startups who have been griping about bureaucratic processes and other regulatory impediments.

These include early fees and taxes due to the fact that most of the digital innovations are not directly intended for business but rather for market testing in order to attract businesses and or partnerships.

The other most important thing the regulator needs to work on is mechanisms that would guarantee data protection as well as provisions of smooth and easily accessible dispute settlement mechanisms so as to protect the parties who are going to be transacting insurance businesses digitally.

Emmanuel Mwesiga is experienced in commercial and corporate law transactions and advisory. He can be reached at e.mwesiga@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter at @EsquireMK. These are the writer’s own opinions and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of The Chanzo Initiative. Want to publish in this space? Contact our editors at editor@thechanzo.com for further inquiries. 

Emmanuel K. Mwesiga

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