The takaful operator it represents. Brokers generally do

The agent is
the representative of the takaful operator (insurance company) in relation to
the principal, who is appointed according to the prevailing laws. The main bond
of the agent is its relationship with the takaful operator, not with the takaful participant. A takaful agent represents the takaful operator
and its primary duty is to promote the Takaful plan or product issued by the takaful
operator it represents.

 

Brokers generally do not have contractual agreements with takaful operators and not bound by any takaful operator. Takaful brokers provide a
comprehensive range of professional takaful broking services to assist
potential customers on how to make paid contributions / premiums more cost
effective and at the same time enjoying maximum coverage. Different with
agents, takaful brokers represent customers and advise customers on the most
appropriate takaful plan. Broker will receive brokerage fee in return for the services rendered. All takaful brokers are
licensed by Bank Negara Malaysia and must registered with The Malaysian Insurance
and Takaful Brokers Association (MITBA).

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The Shari’ah issues with regards to
brokers and agents that need to be addressed as follows:

1.       Lack of knowledge in subject matter related Takaful

We have heard the grievances made by the participants of takaful
agent are the misconceptions about providing takaful or unsatisfactory
services. The Takaful Society of Malaysia (MTA) also outlines some guidelines
of conduct that must be adhered to by any agent promoting takaful. In line with
the Shari’ah requirements that emphasize the rights of both parties to sign
contracts, each agent needs to provide accurate information about a product
offered so that the needs of takaful participants will be fulfilled. Agents and
brokers need to equip themselves with knowledge related to the concept of takaful
and the importance of financial planning. They need to know the whole takaful
system itself, including the internal processes of the takaful operator and the
takaful plans offered. This knowledge is important to ensure that they are more
prepared to deal with potential participants or participants on the appropriate
products and services.

 

Takaful agents and brokers need to be knowledgeable in subject matter and transparent. The failure of agents and brokers in understanding the concepts and products of takaful will cause the products and services provided to customers not comply with Shari’ah compliant. There are still agents and brokers who use conventional insurance approaches in their marketing. They only focus on the information pertaining to the protection or benefits of takaful to be acquired such as insurance agents explaining insurance coverage and tend to over promise. In essence, takaful agents actually need to increase their knowledge of the ‘legality’ of contracts according to Islam. The takaful contract is not just a contract of tabarru ‘(welfare), but also has a mudarabah contract (business collaboration) element. The contract theory in Islam require to explain contractual content / objectives (muqtada al-‘aqd). The mistake of the agent clarifying the contract thorough and detailed will result in uncertainty in the contract. Brokers and agents of takaful must have excellent and proper understanding in objective, concept and products of takaful to ensure they able to fulfill their responsibility to market the Takaful products. 

2.
      Agents and brokers have ethical
problem

To achieve or increase sales
targets, agents and brokers often compete with each other. To increase their
sales, takaful agents and brokers need to get new customers to avoid dismissal.
They will use different types methods to increase their sales and try to keep
their performance in the firm. They may promise any benefits
that are not in the contract or guarantee capital and investment profits and so
on. Unethical practices of takaful
agents arise in order to increase their sales. They may act out of control to
maintain self-interest and may cause agent misconduct has been identified. Insurance agents have the
opportunity for ethical misconduct because the service provided is very
abstract and difficult for customers to fully understand.

 

Another scenario is agent tend
to earn another commission from the existing participant. Towards this purpose,
agent need to sell new policy to existing participants. Thus, there is a
twisting occur which the participants will be persuaded by the agent to replace
the existing purchased plan to another plan that need to contribute more. Takaful
operation might address this issue as it will affect the overall takaful
industry image.

 

Takaful agents act as a
trustee for takaful operator and participants of the takaful contributions.
Referring to Majallah, takaful agents must take into account any collected takaful
contributions and he must ensure that those contribution is submitted to the takaful
operator immediately. Failure to hand out the contributions takaful operators
timely can consider is a breach of agent’s duty and embezzlement action.

 

3.          Agents unable to
disclose the details of total charged to the participant

 

Among the important issues for
takaful products is that agents or brokers unable to clearly explain to
participants of the commissions and service fees imposed by takaful operators
on each donation. To market their products, takaful operators have appointed
agents and brokers to carry out marketing work. Problems arising, participants
are not informed of the charges incurred on the contribution / payment made,
and sometimes there is no current statement sent to the customer indicating the
accumulated revenue in the investment account. The charges may vary depending
on the performance of the takaful operator and this may expose takaful
participants to the risk to bear high costs. This practice is clearly
contradictory to al dharar yuzal (kemudharatan
mesti dielakkan) and gharar (uncertainty).

 

An agent or broker must
disclose the details of the total cost charged to the participant and agreed by
the takaful participant. The total cost charged should be taken into account
how much is earned by the takaful agent, the amount obtained by the takaful operator,
and the amount of charges imposed by the investment fund manager or the
investment link. Although nowadays commissions paid to takaful agents are
included in management expenses (where these funds are derived from
participants’ contribution payments) but there are still issue regarding the amount of commission
should be paid to the agent for the services rendered.

 

4.          Agent unable to disclose relavant information to the takaful
operator

It is the
responsibility of the agent to obtain the necessary information from applicant
and provide those relevant information to takaful operator. Takaful operator
will based on the applicant’s information provided by agent to determine
whether accept or reject the application. Those information will become part of
partial of the legal contract between takaful operator and participant.
Therefore, if an agent deliberately conceals any information or makes any
fraudulent statement,  then he is
consider commit in a serious offence.