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The IISA traces its roots back to 1898 which was later renamed to the Insurance Institute of the Cape of Good Hope. It was agreed that the intentions of the institute are:
Following the evolution in the insurance education environment, it was agreed in 1966 to form a national central body to take over the educational responsibilities within the industry. This led to the formation of the Insurance Institute of South Africa. At formation the local institutes were members of the IISA. The IISA acted on behalf of the Charted Insurance Institute of London (CII) in the registration of examination students in Southern Africa.
The IISA investigated all forms of further educational facilities including the feasibility of establishing a College of Insurance.
A College of Insurance was formed as part of the IISA. The college operated exclusively in Johannesburg from 1974, it expanded to Cape Town in 1977. The courses offered within the college of insurance followed the CII curriculum with localisation of some of the courses such as the law related courses.
CII restructured its syllabus, the proposed changes had far reaching financial implications on the IISA as the new material would have to be localised and translated into Afrikaans.
IISA broke ties with the CII study material and domesticated the South African Institute.
Regulatory changes introduced in 1994 precluded institutions like the IISA from offering tuition, this function was handed over to higher learning institutions.The College could not continue operating in its current format and it had to be separated from the Institute as the Institute could not provide educational services as well as qualifications leading to recognition of Associateship and Fellowship.
The College was transferred to UNISA in 2006. The regulatory environment directed the IISA to becoming a professional body responsible for awarding professional designations to deserving individuals who comply with the personal standards and academic qualifications and skills determined by the Institute.
IISA became the only professional body for the insurance industry approved by the South African Qualifications Authority and was required to have a continuous professional development programme (CPD). The IISA was no longer a provider of insurance education.