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Round table “Accessibility of insurance services for persons with disabilities”

25/01/2012

Minsk, January 24, 2012. Round table on topic “Accessibility of insurance services for persons with disabilities” was held in Minsk. The event was initiated and organized by the Office for the rights of persons with disabilities and International social-economic fund “Idea”. The main topic was the discussion of the accessibility for persons with disabilities of insurance services, such as accident insurance and insurance for going abroad – these two types of insurance are not available for persons with 1st and 2nd groups of disabilities in the majority of Belarusian insurance companies. Representatives of the Office for the rights of persons with disabilities and fund “Idea”, insurance companies, main department of insurance supervision of the Ministry of Finances of the Republic of Belarus were the main speakers during the round table.

Sergey Drozdovskiy, the coordinator of the Office for the rights of persons with disabilities:

“Why are we talking about insurance? It is obvious, that insurance services are becoming more and more important in the life of the society development of which will become more and more dynamic. It is very important for us that persons with disabilities would be active and fully included in this process. Talking about the topic of the round table as “Accessibility of insurance services for persons with disabilities” we would like to emphasize the notion accessibility as a broad notion, exceeding the limits of barrier-free environment in a city, wheelchair and high curbs, as many people think under the influence of stereotypes. It is very important to understand, that when we speak about the accessibility we speak about the accessibility of all the spheres of life for persons with disabilities, including insurance. We speak about insurance as about one of the types of economic activity of a person with disability. Office for the rights of persons with disabilities sees the sphere of insurance in the nearest future as a nondiscriminatory one, providing persons with disabilities with services on common grounds, taking into account some peculiarities we cannot deny. Together with the fund “Idea” we find mutual understanding of the problem. We consider that promoting this sphere of service is one of the aspects of social responsibility of business we cannot be silent about. To our mind, companies have to start thinking about providing persons with disabilities with the full package of services and to agree with a little bit higher risks in the name of social responsibility.

We also would like to mention, that when we say about health insurance it is important to understand – person’s health state and disability do not have direct relationship. Disability is the problem of person’s interaction with the environment, but not a problem of a person and his health. Disability as a status doesn’t influence the situation during insured event, that is why the limitations in insuring based on this criterion are groundless”.

Liudmila Kulak, deputy head of the department of medical insurance of Belgosstrakh: “In the frames of this round table I would like to voice the position of Belgosstrakh”: any kind of insurance in the frames of personal insurance by Belagosstrakhis is provided to persons with disabilities without any limitations. About 12 years ago there were limitations for 1st group disabled in Belgosstrakh and such persons were refused in insuring. But as the result of the meeting similar to this round table we made the decision that the refuse to insure persons with disabilities is the discrimination, that is why we lifted any restrictions. Analyzing the statistics (and it is a lot of cases, because we sign about 600 000 contracts for personal insurance a year) it is worth to mention that there are very few persons with disabilities among our clients. May be it is so, because persons with disabilities do not know about the insurance services that are available for them. It is an interesting fact, that persons with disabilities as the clients of insurance companies are much more responsible to the conditions of insurance than other clients”.

Sergey Andrievich, chief underwriter of “Promtransinvest”: If to speak about the company’s position I would like to mention, that insurance is the part of the economy and also its social part. Insurance services are the subjects to definite demands and any limitations are grounded by mathematic calculations and agreements. Limitations created for persons with disabilities are explained by the high insurance risk of such type of contracts. And these are the limitations for accidents insurance and for going abroad which exist for persons with 1st and 2nd group disabilities in “Promtransinvest” and in some other companies. But there are a lot of other types of insurances: car, apartment, other property for which there are no limitations for persons with disabilities.
Stanislav Stanislavovich Saevich, deputy head of the Main department of insurance supervision of the Ministry of Finances of the Republic of Belarus: “If to speak about the position of the Main department of insurance supervision of the Ministry of Finances of the Republic of Belarus I would like to start with the fact that the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus guarantees equal rights and freedoms to all citizens. And the realization of these rights and freedoms is the state’s primary task. According to our evaluation, today this function is realized – in our country there are companies which provide insurance services to persons with disabilities in full volume. This is state owned company Belgosstrakh and also some private companies. But we can see the selective approach and unwillingness of private companies to insure persons with disabilities because of bad insurance history and risk evaluation. Because such type of insurance is voluntary we have no right to make all the companies to render such services, but I agree, that disability doesn’t mean bad health and it is the state of health that defines risk level.

It is more effective to solve the problem of partial accessibility of insurance services for persons with disabilities with the help of economic mechanisms – raise social status and financial situation of persons with disabilities, to work out special tariffs. It is important to understand, that the provision of such services by insurance companies is a social responsibility of each organization. Taking into account the results of this round table the main department of insurance supervision of the Ministry of Finances of the Republic of Belarus will hold consultations on this problem and will voice its position to Belarusian Association of Insurers, which will prepare their view of the problem for insurance companies.

Pavel Veshtorg, chairman of board of International social-economic fund “Idea”. In the frames of this round table fund “Idea” would like to claim Belarusian insurance business to social responsibility. Neither fund “Idea” nor Office for the rights of persons with disabilities can solve the problem of full accessibility of insurance services for persons with disabilities without the participation of the representative of private insurance companies and without their understanding of social responsibility. It is important to understand that persons with disabilities, as equal members of the society, need insurance services and have the right to use them equally with other people, in full volume and in any insurance company. As it became known during the round table, the percentage of persons with disabilities who apply for accident insurances and going abroad insurance is very low, so let’s just give them the possibility to come to any insurance company and get the necessary insurance. Let’s be socially responsible not only by word of mouth, but by our actions, because it is the same element of companies’ strategy as economic planning about which we talked a lot today”.