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Stakeholders seek incorporation of new trends in Nigerian insurance law

By Omolabake Ohu
20 October 2020   |   4:04 am
Stakeholders have called for the incorporation of new trends in review of insurance law in Nigeria.

Stakeholders have called for the incorporation of new trends in review of insurance law in Nigeria.

According to them, marine insurance Act has become archaic and should be reviewed to reflect common trends in other jurisdictions.
They spoke at a zoom conference organized by First Law And Impact Consulting Ltd., themed: “The development of insurance law and practice in Nigeria: prospects and challenges.”
Other speakers at the event were the Executive Director, AXA Mansard Insurance, Mrs. Rashidat Adebisi, Adetola Adegbayi, Prof. Rob Merkin (QC), Mr. Leonard Akah representing Sunday Thomas, Commissioner for Insurance, (NAICOM), Mr. Sola Tinubu; Dr. Omogbai Omo-Eboh and Folashade Alli.

British Professor of Law, Merkin (QC) said although it is archaic, not all countries under the commonwealth has amended theirs, except the UK and Australia that did a minor amendment. “The fact is that only the UK has seriously amended the Marine insurance Act,” he said.

Mr. Akah, who admitted that the law is old but not archaic explained that there is plan to amend all insurance laws in Nigeria. “I doubt if that Act is that archaic from what is being said. Marine insurance Act is one of the mothers of all insurance laws. Although it is quite old, I don’t agree that it is archaic in its provisions,” he said.

Mr. Akah also stated that Nigeria has one of the highest numbers of compulsory insurance policies, but regretted that activities of quacks make people who patronize them think they have a cover.

According to him, holders of such policies procured from unregistered players only evade the checks of security agencies and nothing more.

“Until Nigerians begin to receive value for money, they will always find a way of avoiding buying these compulsory insurance policies. Nigeria has one of the highest insurance policies in the world. The problem has always been lack of enforcement and cooperation among operators,” he declared and expressed optimism that with technology, the problem of enforcement would soon be addressed.

He therefore urged insurance companies to always pay whenever a claim arises, as it would open doors for them when the claimants advertise on their behalf.
He also urged the sector to always advertise what they do, especially when they make any payment, because some people believe they don’t pay claims, whereas, so many claims are being paid on daily basis. “We need to make the world know that they do pay claims,” he stated.

Akah disclosed that the Nigerian Insurance bill currently before the National Assembly would revolutionalise the sector when passed into law and charged the lawmakers to look into the bill expeditiously.

Founder of Custodian Investment Plc., Mr. Oluwole Oshin charged insurance industry players to get their retail structure in place, especially feedbacks, so as to increase insurance penetration rate in Nigeria.
According to Oshin, people don’t like insurance, so there has to be some element of legislative compulsion before they buy one.
Adebisi in buttressing Oshin’s point stated that insurance policy patronage is not strong in Nigeria.
“And even if we want to force people, they have to be able to see the value, and that is where the awareness issue comes into play,” she stated.
According to her, the industry itself hasn’t really listened to customers to understand how to address their needs, and that has affected its growth.  
She then suggested that one of the ways to change things is to address the issue of simplification.

“Simplification is very important because the industry is really a legal-type-transaction, and what you tend to see is very complex words, which the people don’t really understand,” she said.
In her opinion, it is almost as if the industry is hiding what it is covering, hoping that when a claim happens, they will be able to distinguish between the issues.
“People appreciate having information. They want to know what is covered and what is not covered, and this in itself could address significant issues that have faced us in the industry,” she stated.
Another speaker, Mr. Shola Tinubu in his remark, stated that even though the insurance companies are playing significantly in Nigerian market, they are not reaping the benefits.

This, he said is because sometimes, even the same companies of the same people who are receiving claims don’t end up happy due to the processes they go through to get those claims.
According to him, the insurance industry does not have any regulatory process that actually ensures that policy holders, who pay on time, actually get value on time as well.
“We have processes to check when premiums are paid, but no processes to check what happens on claims,” he said.