Traditional drums and dance heralded the beginning of Sri Lanka’s first General Insurance Sales Congress (GISCO) recently at Waters Edge. The theme of the congress was ‘Growth through innovation’. Over 500 delegates representing insurance companies were present at the event.
The day’s programme began with the lighting of the traditional oil lamp by chief guest Insurance Board of Sri Lanka (IBSL) Chairperson Indrani Sugathadasa, IBSL Director General Damayanthi Fernando, Dr. Christian Bartsch of Munich Re, Chandra Schaffter, Insurance Association of Sri Lanka (IASL) President Dirk Perera and other leading personalities of the insurance industry.
Following the national anthem and an inspiring curtain raiser, IASL Marketing and Sales Forum Chairman Samitha Hemachandra delivered the welcome speech, in which he pointed out some of the key objectives and choice of theme for the event. “Innovation is the key to success, progress comes only through innovation,” he stated. He ended by stating that if each participant could take away at least one idea on innovation from the congress, the effort that had gone into organising the event would not be in vain.
Pereira expressed his delight at seeing such a large number of participants. He placed special emphasis on the competitive nature of the insurance industry and the constant change of the needs of the customer. “One cannot stay still,” stated Pereira. “Growth is not going to happen if you keep doing the same thing over and over.”
Sugathadasa conveyed her appreciation to the IASL for having taken the initiative to organise the first GISC. In the beginning of her speech, Sugathadasa explained the necessity of insurance in public enterprise and its value to the economy. She also highlighted the importance of insurance advisors working closely with the customers in order to provide tailor-made solutions. However, she went on to point out that the lack of penetration of insurance in Sri Lanka is a cause for concern.
In his keynote address, Bartsch highlighted the importance of innovation to grow the insurance industry and went on to present a number of innovative ideas that had been introduced to the global insurance community over the recent years.
Schaffter presented a detailed history of the insurance industry in Sri Lanka, titled ‘Insurance – Then & Now’.
In his address Ceylinco General CEO Ajith Gunawardena described the beginning of ‘VIP on the Spot’ and its success throughout the years. Gunawardena also joined in the panel discussion that followed along with Union Assurance General CEO Sanjeev Jha and Amana Takaful Insurance CEO Fazal Ghaffoor. The discussion was moderated by National Insurance Trust Fund Chairman Manjula De Silva. The panellists’ discussion was centred on the process of innovation, its role in the culture and structure of an insurance company and its importance in the production of effective products.
Following the lunch break Dammika Kalapuge conducted a motivational session with the main objective of encouraging innovation among the audience. The inspirational session was followed by a second panel discussion under the theme – ‘Sales growth through customer retention and innovation’. UAL General Manager Rukman Weeraratne played the role of moderator while the panellists consisted of Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation DGM General Insurance Thanuja Hingulage, Ceylinco General Insurance General Manager Roshan Ranasinghe, Janashakthi General Insurance COO Dayalani Abeygunawardena, Union Assurance General Top Sales Achiever Eric Upashantha and Thasleen Ammon of Amana General Insurance.