Muscat: High hospitalization cost of COVID-19 underscores the importance of health insurance for Coronavirus treatment.
“Usually when there is a contagious disease that emerges it is limited to certain areas and disappears. There have been malaria in the past and in recent years it was SARS. But the novel Coronavirus is a bit different,” said Murtadha Ibrahim al Jamalani, Chairman of the Committee for Finance and Insurance Sectors, Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“We are thinking on terms about how to work jointly with the concerned authorities to come up with solutions benefiting from the experience of others to cover the testing and treatment cost of COVID-19. We were happy when we heard the announcement from the Capital Market Authority about the Catastrophe Fund because everyone can be insured when the venture is between the government and the private sector.”
He explained further that if it is the insurance company or the private sector alone then there is the element of limitation and restriction in insurance underwriting but if it is in partnership with the government then the insurance company can soften their regulation.
“India’s insurance regulator introduced a unified insurance policy just for COVID-19 where people in the frontline are covered including doctors and nurses. According to the General Arab Insurance Federation (GAIF) survey on COVID-19 most companies are relying on reinsurance and this is one of the challenges the Arab world insurance sector is facing and that is why it is important for the government to be involved in the sector,” Al Jamalani said.
The solution is to have customised products. “Oman is the first country in the GCC to have come out with a unified motor policy and Agriculture Insurance Policy. So we are pioneers. We are the first country to link insurance companies with the Central Traffic Division to get customer data. With smaller companies in the business relying on reinsurance, and with rates going higher because of COVID-19 this might be the right time for the authorities to think about investing in the insurance sector through reinsurance companies and not directly with the insurance companies,” concluded Al Jamalani.