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Customers expectation and the insurance industry in a new normal 

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As we settle into the new normal, the insurance industry, which had seen much more challenges than other sectors during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic has begun to identify the opportunities emerging from the throes of the pandemic.

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As alluded in a recent Insurance Report, the insurance business thrived over decades, providing opportunities for young people to be employed, longer-term funds for investments and infrastructural development and stabilization of the industrial and commercial sector through the prompt settlement of claims.

However, people who could be or are customers of insurance may have learnt and moved faster than today’s insurance providers could anticipate because:

  • Most existing products do not meet the needs of customers especially those at the bottom of the pyramid;
  • The prices that customers (policyholders) are required to pay are not risk-based and often, only corporate entities and governments can afford them;
  • Insurance services are rarely available on platforms or in environments where people pursue their interests and hobbies, which would probably instigate them to enquire and engage;
  • Many people are still not enjoying prompt and timely settlement of their claims, so others who hear their stories are hesitant in buying any insurance that the law does not require them to have;
  • The insurance industry is slow in adopting tech solutions to improve customers’ experiences
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Nevertheless, in different ways pertaining to how insurance is sold; how payments of premium and claims are made; the management of relationships between policyholders and their insurers and how regulators get reports, the insurance industry is now considered ready for technological adoption, especially digitization.

A Digital Experience as the Norm
Prior to COVID-19 pandemic, it was difficult to win an argument that insurance could be sold virtually as the sales process required salespeople to meet prospects and answer their many questions before trying to convince them about taking up a suitable insurance policy. However, today insurers can engage existing and potential policyholders especially the youth population that are comfortable to exchange chats through mobile and online channels and have the information necessary for them to make their decisions about buying insurance.

This means that buyers of insurance can review and compare rates of different insurers, which they could not do before now and payments are made seamlessly on the same platforms within seconds. The turnaround time for insurance transactions are drastically reducing as a result of this while both the insurers and policyholders are becoming more conscious of value as the critical determinant of their relationships than just the prices at which the products are sold. 

These experiences are beginning to stimulate positive conversations about insurance and the possibility that a new life for policyholders can indeed be real.

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Connecting through Effective Communication 
Quite interestingly, many people now understand why they should get insurance as our lives become even more uncertain while innovative solutions have emerged that can predict behaviours and actions of people in specified areas thus minimizing the possibilities of losses and damages.

As we begin to recover from the harsh effects of the pandemic and recession, Nigerians should be more aware of the need to protect themselves from future challenges by getting individual life policies for their families, education endowment to secure the completion of the schooling stage for children and emerging new investment products that would better respond to our peculiar macroeconomic issues.

Information about relevant insurance products have become more available and accessible to the insuring public and in formats that they can readily be read, watched, and circulated for the benefits of all. Some still argue that insurance offerings need to be publicized a lot more than is currently being done hence the anticipation of a new life, where communication will be more effective. There are more avenues today through social media platforms that insurance related questions are being answered and increasingly, people are relying on this to be better educated and enlightened on insurance.

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It would be interesting to see insurance companies leverage on this to connect actively on these platforms, especially with our youth population, who remain largely uninsured and unsecured for the future.

Building Confidence and Trust through Simplicity and Responsiveness 
The insurance industry in Nigeria is evolving from one that is merely responding to COVID-19 pandemic to one which offers a new experience through digitization and inclusion.

When young Nigerians are able to download insurance apps that would inform, educate, enlighten and empower them regarding the risks they are confronted with daily, in a similar manner they do with other financial services providers, it will be clearer that the industry is ready to compete for the increasingly competitive economic space.

Indeed, a new life would have come to the existing and potential policyholders, but which insurance company will do this consistently? With an opportunity to describe the kind of products they would like and the way they will like to be served, young Nigerians would better help such an insurance company not only to deliver customized and innovative products to them but also give them unparalleled experiences.

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This approach will certainly cause a major disruption in an industry that has not been customer-centric and responsive to the critical issues of policyholders bordering on claims payments; and the need to earn the confidence and trust of young Nigerians is now.

With the adoption of innovative solutions, a new life is coming for those that have not believed insurance companies can relate with them effectively and meet their needs, keep their promises, pay claims and deliver an entire end-to-end process that can be automated and offered as a self-service. 

Ekerete Olawoye Gam-Ikon, MNIM, CPP, is a management consultant with a specialization in Strategy and Insurance. 

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