Fresh hope for industry as NIA gets new leadership
Pursues settlement of tanker explosion victims
The new leadership of the Nigeria Insurers Association (NIA) may not have officially assumed duties, but has made a strong call on the stakeholders to embrace, as a project, the redemption of the industry’s poor image.
The task, according to the industry operators’ group, was to enable them maximise the untapped potential in the economy and raise the confidence level.
The new NIA chief and Managing Director, NEM Insurance Plc, Tope Smart, whose investiture as the 23rd chairman of the association is slated for this week in Lagos, spoke exclusively to The Guardian over the weekend on strategies to redeem the industry’s battered image.
Tope observed that many Nigerians were yet to embrace the culture of policy holding and expressed the need for the institute to engage in public education and enlightenments programmes that would enlist the interest of the people in the business.
He said operators should make maximum use of the investment opportunities now available to them to strengthen their liquidity position, to enable them meet the claims of policyholders, companies whenever the need arises.
He also said that such effort would help restore public confidence in the ability of the industry to deliver and redeem its obligations to clients.
The insurer therefore, called on the operators to extend some of their programmes to the rural areas, to enable them tap into the potential at the grassroots.
He said: “There is the need too for insurance companies to redesign their products and services in such a way that would meet the need in the ever changing behavioural pattern of people.
“In doing so, concerted efforts should be made to ensure that the economic environment and social behaviour of people are integrated into the policy formulation and marketing strategy objective of the insurance companies.
“Another area, which the insurance industry is yet to fully explore, is the life policy and pension insurance scheme. This can really make long-term funds available for profitable investment in the insurance sector.
“It seems to me that the lack of insurance life portfolio has made our insurance companies to be caught in the web of low investments and needless competitions, with other players in the money market”.
An industry analyst, who spoke with The Guardian on the diversification of the economy on condition of anonymity, said it had dawned on everybody now that we need to move to non-oil sector.
But as major players, the sources said insurance professionals must come up with robust ideas and policies that could help cushion the fall in revenue in the economic process.
“Undoubtedly, as the call for the diversification of the economy is on the increase and investors are being wooed to agriculture, mining, export promotion, among others, we must come up with possible template that would not only assure investors of the safety of their investment, but ensure insurance driven environment, which will bring high yields on their investments.
“Without doubt, the prevailing social economic situation in our economy requires that NIA should attempt a critical reappraisal of some of the contemporary issues in the professional practice of insurance business to promote the industry,” the source said.
Commissioner for Insurance, Mohammed Kari, in a paper delivered at a industry forum held outside Lagos, urged insurance professionals to act professionally, adding that failure to observe this tenet in the past caused the industry so much injury.
“The time has indeed come for us to speak professionally and act like the true insurance professionals we claim to be in the course of performing or conducting our business.
“Our failure to observe this tenet in the past has caused the industry so much reputational injury. I am glad to say the current efforts of the underwriters to change the perception of the public about insurance are timely and laudable. All other sectors should join in with their widow’s might to ensure the success of the project,” he said.
Meanwhile, the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) has reiterated its stance on prompt payment of claims, even as it has taken action to ensure the owners of seven, out of 54 vehicles, with comprehensive insurance coverage during the Otedola bridge tanker explosion, were indemnified.
With the technology of the Federal Roads Safety Corps (FRSC), Lagos State chapter, it was learnt that the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of the burnt vehicles were known.
However, NIA entered these VINs on the Nigerian Insurance Industry Database (NIID) to confirm those with genuine insurance so that they can be compensated and discovered that only seven vehicles were comprehensively insured, meaning that their insurers would have to pay them claims.
Moreover, 11 of the vehicles did not have insurance at all as they were not registered on NIID, while 15 vehicles had wrong information on them and the owners could not be traced, although investigation showed that there were ongoing moves by the road safety to ascertain the owners of those vehicles.
Speaking to The Guardian on the plans to ensure that confidence is regained, the Director-General, NIA, Mrs. Yetunde Ilori, assured the owners of the seven comprehensively insured vehicles of their claims as the association had already forwarded these information to their respective insurers to get them paid.
She said the association has equally forwarded the vehicle information of 22 vehicles with third party insurance coverage to all insurers to guard against fraudulent claims in future.
“So, as an association, we are interfacing with the public and the insurance companies concerned to ensure that those with genuine insurance are paid.
“Moreover, we also send information of vehicles with third party insurance to all insurance companies so that when somebody comes with a fraudulent claim on them in the future, the underwriting firms concerned will know that such vehicles have been involved in the fire inferno,” she said.
She advised road users to ensure that their vehicles were insured, especially, comprehensively, so that, whenever there was an insured risk on the roads, they would be adequately compensated.
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