Shs1.3b tied up in insurance disputes

Government has created a tribunal to settle insurance-related disputes. Photo | File  

What you need to know:

  • According to Justice Stephen Mubiru, the commercial court has a case backlog of about 2,297 disputes, of which 24 are insurance-related.

At least Shs1.3b is tied up in insurance-related disputes, according to Justice Stephen Mubiru, the Head of the Commercial Division of the High Court. 

Speaking at the launch of the Insurance Appeals Tribunal in Kampala Tuesday, Justice Mubiru said the commercial court has a case backlog of about 2,297 disputes, of which 24 were insurance-related.

These, he said, although few, have a high value, which calls for a mechanisms of resolving such cases without necessarily loading the court system. 

“The value of cases overall is more than Sh7b. Disputes in the insurance sector account for Shs1.3b. You can imagine, they  are very few but with a very high value,” Justice Mubiru said. 

The Insurance Appeals Tribunal will adjudicate over insurance and related disputes. 

Justice Mubiru noted that the tribunal will release courts from the burden of holding cases for years before disposal. 

“These are few cases but take a long period of time in court. Image only 24 cases taking years because of lack of litigation,” he said, noting that the tribunal will be able to handle cases without necessarily taking long in the court system. 

Ms Rita Namakiika, the Insurance Appeals Tribunal chairperson, said for a long time, the insurance sector had grappled with challenges of low confidence and trust, which has damaged the industry and frustrated some clients at the same time. 

The tribunal, will, among others review the decisions of Insurance Regulatory Authority, insurers and complaints filed by clients.  

Mr Ibrahim Lubega Kaddunabbi, the Insurance Regulatory Authority chief executive officer, said the tribunal will create a forum where decisions will be streamlined to avoid cases where decisions of key stakeholders are overridden. 

“The insurance tribunal will not only reduce the time spent in court but free up capital. Unlike in the normal court system where you need a lawyer, this will not be the case for the tribunal. The tribunal takes 30 days. This will help unlock the insurance sector potential to ensure streamlined and speedy dispute resolution and bring sanity within the sector,” he said. 

Under the Insurance Act, a person who is aggrieved by any decision of the regulator may within one month from the date the decision is communicated appeal to the tribunal against the decision.

Therefore, Mr Kaddunabbi said, the tribunal will have powers to uphold, reverse, revoke and vary a decision or remit a matter back to the authority for reconsideration with or without guidance. 

According to Mr Kaddunabbi, between 2016 and 2020, IRA recorded a number of complaints many of which were related to delayed settlement, life insurance, fraud, comprehensive motor insurance, insurance policy wording and interpretation, agency commission and medical.