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Monday, May 1, 1989
Improving quality

The Life Underwriters’ Association of South Africa (LUASA) has come a long way since its inception in 1959 - at which time it was incorrectly perceived by many as a trade unionist organisation. LUASA is a professional non-profit organisation which operates for and on behalf of its members throughout the country.
Executive director Hennie Oosthuizen says, “The trade-union perception has changed. LUASA now receives support from even the most conservative of companies, largely because they realise the advantages of membership for their sales staff”. Unlike the Life Offices’ Association (LOA) and the South African Insurance Brokers’ Association (SAIBA), LUASA is the mouthpiece for the individual sales intermediaries in the life assurance industry. Members include independent brokers, life of lice agents, as well as agents of broking organisations. Membership is voluntary.
LUASA was established with the aim of instilling professionalism and maintaining high ethical standards as well as developing its members through ongoing education and motivation.
Significantly, it is an instrument which negotiates with the State, organisations like the LOA, SAIBA and the Registrar, in the interests of members, the industry, as well as the consumer. As intermediaries, LUASA members have to satisfy both the life companies and the consumer. Mr Oosthuizen stresses, “We believe that what is beneficial to the consumer is also good for our members. “LUASA would like to see its members moving toward establishing healthier relationships with the public. In this respect the association intends playing a stronger role in the future”.
Prospective members must have at least four months’ practical experience and have to be proposed and seconded by two existing members. In a new development, they will now initially he signed on as provisional members and will he expected to complete a special study course - on ethical and successful behaviour - prepared by the Centre for Business Ethics before becoming fully fledged members. The entrance fee is R35, and the annual subscription is R200 which is tax deductible. Applications have to be approved by the Regional Council as well as the Executive Committee of LUASA. Each region holds an educationally-based monthly function at which members make contact with people across the spectrum of the market place. According to Mr Oosthuizen, many who attend these get-togethers find the relaxed camaraderie and easy interchange of ideas contribute to their own personal success and development within the industry.
As incentives which cut across those given by individual companies, LUASA recognises its members with Gold, Silver and Bronze Production Awards. Special recognition and publicity is given to the top 25 performers. To enhance LUASA’s image and to maintain stability within the organisation, the body introduced the LUASA-Alliance concept in 1987. A LUASA-Alliance certificate is issued to a life office branch provided all sales staff belong to the association. The manager then sees that any newcomers also become LUASA members.
Also significant is that membership of LUASA is the stepping stone towards becoming a member of the international Million Dollar Round Table - the assurance industry’s most prestigious society.
Mr Oosthuizen believes it is vital for South Africa’s successful life consultants to be part of an international fraternity which at present embraces 42 countries. The Million Dollar Round Table hosts an annual conference in the United States or Canada covering education and motivation, and which normally draws some the world’s best speakers in their field. Mr Oosthuizen says that in line with the organisation’s strong emphasis on the ethical behaviour of its members, it has a disciplinary system within the constitution whereby members can he disciplined by LUASA. If a member is found to have acted unethically he could lose his membership.
During the past thirty years. LUASA has demonstrated its concern for the industry and the consumer and has given strong support to the Margo Commission and the proposed new Insurance Act.
LUASA liaises formally with other bodies within the industry through a liaison committee represented by itself, the LOA, SAIBA and the IBC (Independent Brokers’ Council). The liaison commit-tee gives all parties the opportunity to discuss matters affecting the industry and to raise what are often conflicting opinions. LUASA was instrumental in the creation of The Multi Rand Forum, which is generally accepted as one of the highlights of the assurance industry calendar. This body organises a three-day national conference every year, which is one of the most effective means of communication in the industry. Those attending the conference range from company executives to administrative staff.
LUASA has also featured strongly in the establishment of the Institute of Life and Pension Advisors (ILPA), an organisation to which it gives strong ongoing support. All LUASA members are encouraged to work towards passing their ILPA exams. Mr Oosthuizen says the bulk of assurance intermediaries never achieve the ILPA qualification, but choose a marketing-oriented education. LUASA is aware of this need, and is currently preparing a course to coincide with its 30th anniversary celebrations. Mr Oosthuizen says the course is designed to cover ethical behaviour. A second course, in the form of a “survival kit” for newcomers to the industry, is envisaged. This should contribute towards reducing the present high turnover of sales staff in the industry.
He adds that LUASA has seen a substantial growth in membership in the last few years. He notes with pride that membership turnover at LUASA is far less than that of the industry itself - notorious for its high dropout rate.
A national conference will be held in Durban in October. A LUASA video, a coat of arms and a commemorative publication will form part of the 30th anniversary celebrations. During its 25th anniversary LUASA undertook a “fundrun” with proceeds going to the Heart Foundation. This year, it is organising a fund raising campaign of a different nature - with donations going to several organisations. This will coincide with a public awareness campaign.

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:2.5 1st May, 1989
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