GIAJ Chairman's Statement released on September 20, 2007 (Translation) (Sep. 20, 2007


I would like to report on our activities and related events since my last press conference of September 20th. Mr. Toshiaki Egashira, Chairman
Mr. Toshiaki Egashira, Chairman

Introduction

Firstly, I wish to extend our sincerest condolences to the victims of the recent natural disasters that hit our country during the summer season. We, the general insurance industry, will spare no effort to service and take care of our customers who were affected by these typhoons and earthquakes and will ensure prompt payment of insurance claims.

With regard to the issue of inadvertent non-payment of claims, I am able to report that all GIAJ member companies had completed their internal investigations by the end of June. They are currently processing any outstanding payments and are also implementing improved staff-training programs and IT systems reforms in order to prevent such incidents from ever reoccurring. Meanwhile, the GIAJ also continues to support the various efforts measures of member companies: in addition to the "Self-Imposed Guideline on Payment for Insurance Claims", we also published the new "Guideline for 3rd Sector Insurance Products" in June. We will continue to update and improve these Guidelines to reflect the opinions of consumers and experts.

Since this April, member companies are following a procedure that requires their agents/solicitors to use a confirmation paper to double-check customer needs and contract details when selling a policy. The GIAJ will continue to publicize this new process through public communication activities, such as the distribution of posters and leaflets, and the use of newspaper ads and television commercials which we are running this month.

Through these activities and others stated hereafter, I hereby pledge to fulfil my duties to restore consumer confidence in our industry as soon as possible.

Key Measures and Actions

1. Measures aimed to restore consumer confidence in our industry

(1) "Advisory Panel to Listen to Consumers' Voices"

On 12th September, the Advisory Panel was called into session, reviewed our activities of the past year and further discussed ways of moving forward. Based on the opinions presented by the Panel, we will take strong new steps and actions in areas such as complaints resolution, agent/solicitor examination systems reform, consumer-understanding promotion and so forth. We will also continue to support the various efforts measures of member companies in this areas. Panel members have also asked us to focus on the thorough implementation and execution of the various recommendations to ensure further progress is made in restoring consumer confidence.

(2) Measures and Actions supporting GIAJ member companies

(i) Enhancing the quality of service of agents/solicitors

To promote the appropriate sale of insurance products, we need to continue to raise the quality and level of service provided by the agents/solicitors with whom our customers deal directly. From October, we will reform and improve the qualification examinations for agents/solicitors, expanding the scope of the test to cover compliance issues and 3rd sector insurance. We will also require agents/solicitors to retake this examination every few years to renew their credentials. We are also currently considering the possibility of introducing a new industry-wide examination for certain products.

(ii) Making our products (and policy wordings) more consumer-friendly

We will continue to strive to make our products (and policy wordings) more consumer-friendly so that our customers can understand the policies they are considering, then choose and purchase them worry-free. We will launch a Study Group the members of which will consist of experts and consumer-advocates. We intend to set out and publish a Guideline paper based on the discussions of this Group.


(3) Measures and Actions to be implemented by the GIAJ

(i) Certified Investor Protection Organization

To assist member companies in resolving any problems with customers regarding investment-type insurance products and/or financial derivative products that they sell, we have decided to apply for certification as a "Certified Investor Protection Organization", a type of dispute resolution entity stipulated by the new Financial Instruments and Exchange Law. By obtaining this certificate, we aim to raise the standard and level of GIAJ's work in relation to resolving complaints and to promote further our trust-building activities.

(ii) Disclosure of information related to consumer complaints

The GIAJ continues to work on assisting member companies to effectively make use of complaints (i.e. the voices of customers) that they receive in order to further improve the quality of service. From October, we will disclose the number on complaints (per each company) received by the GIAJ on our website, and also introduce the kinds of measures companies are taking to resolve them.

(iii) Promoting Consumer Understanding

In accordance with various comments we received from a wide range of customers, we have recently revised our "General Insurance Buyers' Guide", a handbook we have been publicly promoting since its release last year.

Furthermore, and based on our talks with governmental consumer policy agencies, we have recently published a "General Insurance Buyers' Guide" for senior citizens. We have also made available a DVD introducing the Buyers' Guide in sign language complete with subtitles for customers with hearing disabilities. We will continue to publicly promote these consumer resources.

(iv) Free Discussion on Comparison of Insurance Products

This July, we co-hosted the first "Free Discussion on Comparison of Insurance Products" with the Life Insurance Association and Foreign Non-Life Insurance Association. Many participants (including consumers and agents/solicitors) gathered for this event, and participated in lively discussions focusing on consumer convenience and consumer protection. The second round of this discussions is being held today. We will continue to examine rules related to insurance product comparison taking into account the opinions voiced at these discussions.


2. Others

(1) Measures to promote Security and Safety in our Society

(i) Public Promotion of Earthquake Insurance

We will be running our "Earthquake Insurance Promotion Campaign" for 3 months from 24th August, and will be publicizing the necessity and importance of taking out an earthquake insurance policy. We will also be introducing the features of the new tax system that allows earthquake insurance premiums (up to a certain amount) to be deducted from one's income as expenses. By utilizing various media channels such as newspapers, television, radio, the internet and posters, we hope to further increase the number of households that have earthquake insurance.

(ii) Automobile Theft Prevention

Although the number of automobile thefts is in decline due to many years of hard work by all relevant parties, one must bear in mind that such thefts still occur once every 15 minutes. To promote automobile theft prevention, a joint public-private project team has launched its 7th Automobile Theft Prevention Campaign, a one year campaign which began on 1st September. The aim is to encourage drivers to recognize the reality of automobile theft and to raise the level of awareness of preventive measures.

(iii) Drunk-Driving Prevention

With the ultimate goal of creating a drunk-driving free society, we have revised our "Drunk-Driving Prevention Manual" for further promotion. We hope corporations will make use of this manual at seminars and training programs designed to educate their employees about the dangers of drunk-driving.


(2) Measures related to System Reform

(i) Insurance Contract Law

The insurance contract law (i.e. the Commercial Code relating to insurance contracts) is being revised for the first time in approximately 100 years. The preliminary draft of the new legislation was recently released by the Legislative Council for public comments, and we submitted our comments on 14th September. It is our view that the revised law should set out rules that adequately meet the unique and modern needs of consumer protection and the prevention of insurance-related criminal acts. It is also our wish that the new law will be flexible enough to provide a framework and platform that will contribute to the promotion of product development and industry prosperity for the next 100 years.

(ii) Requests for Tax Reform

We have put together our request for tax reform for fiscal year 2008. In light of the ongoing review and reform of the social security system, we feel that the importance of private insurance products that complement social security, for example medical expense insurance, nursing care expense insurance and annuity insurance, will continue to increase. We are asking for a tax system that allows such insurance premiums to be treated as deductible expenses. We will continue to advocate our proposals to the relevant parties.


Closing

During the past 3 months as the Chairman of the GIAJ, I have pushed forward various initiatives to restore consumer confidence in our industry. Whilst I am confident that we are making steady progress, it is evident we still have a lot more to do and a long way to go. Taking into account the discussions of this month's "Advisory Panel to Listen to Consumers' Voices", I hereby reconfirm my commitment to achieve our goals by implementing and executing the measures proposed by the Panel without delay.