The International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) was established in 1994 as an international organisation through which insurance regulators and supervisors cooperate to contribute to improved supervision of the insurance industry on a domestic as well as on an international level in order to maintain efficient, fair, safe and stable insurance markets for the benefit and protection of policyholders. Today the IAIS represents insurance regulators and supervisors of some 190 jurisdictions in nearly 140 countries. In addition, it has more than 120 observers. Part of its core objective is to promote the development of well-regulated insurance markets.Microinsurance is, however, not a completely new topic to the IAIS. In 2006 a Joint Working Group on Microinsurance was established in partnership with the Microinsurance Network (MiN – previously known as the CGAP working group on microinsurance). The Network is a member-based forum consisting of donor organisations, multilateral agencies, insurance and social protection providers, policymakers and academics (see www.microinsurancenetwork.org for more details). It provides a platform for information sharing and stakeholder coordination with the aim to promote the development and proliferation of insurance products for low-income persons.
In June 2007 the IAIS and the CGAP Working Group published an issues paper on microinsurance to facilitate the formal discussion of microinsurance within the various IAIS committees. The Issues Paper was developed by the Joint Working Group on Microinsurance. It explains the importance of developing inclusive financial systems particularly in emerging markets, and why it needs to be regulated and supervised along professional lines. The issues paper has been translated into several languages:
Under the banner of Joint Working Group on Microinsurance, a groundbreaking study was commissioned to review the development of microinsurance markets in Colombia, India, Philippines, South Africa and Uganda and specifically consider the impact that regulation has had on market development. These studies led to the development of guidelines for regulators who seek to support market development and were also the basis for the creation of the Access to Insurance Initiative (A2II – www.access-to-insurance.org). Members of Cenfri managed the project and supported the development of the case studies as part of a Genesis Analytics team on behalf of the FinMark Trust. We participated directly in the development of the South African and Ugandan case studies (click here for more information on the case studies).
The IAIS is a Founding Sponsor of the Access to Insurance Initiative (A2II) together with FinMark Trust (whose insurance portfolio is managed by Cenfri), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Consultative Group for Assisting the Poor (CGAP) and the German Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ). The Access to Insurance Initiative is a new collaborative approach between international development agencies and insurance supervisors through the IAIS. This global programme is designed to strengthen the capacity and understanding of insurance supervisors, and to facilitate their role in expanding access to insurance markets. The expected outcome is to contribute towards an improved policy, regulatory and supervisory environment consistent with international insurance standards, encourage investment in the insurance sector, and develop sustainable microinsurance operations in emerging markets. IAIS representatives fill four out of the eight positions on the governing board and one of their members, Jonathan Dixon (Deputy Executive Officer: Insurance from the South African Financial Services Board) was elected to chair the governing board for the next two years . The initiative was officially launched at the IAIS conference (click here for more details on the launch of the A2II).