The National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), says the sector has improved tremendously under the present dispensation.
Mr Rasaaq Salami, the Deputy Director/ Head, Corporate Affairs of NAICOM, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday.
Salami said the sector was hitherto being faced with the problem of delayed payment of claims, lack of awareness, low penetration, low contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and limited distribution channels for insurance products among others.
He said during the period under review, the commission realised that those challenges were not such that could be handled by it alone but through a collective effort.
According to him, the commission then set up an Insurers Committee which is akin to the Bankers Committee.
“This committee was to provide a platform where all Chief Executive Officers of insurance companies would meet with the management of NAICOM to come up with suggestions/ways of tackling the sector’s challenges.
“One of the key outcome of that committee is the rebranding project that the industry is about to embark on which will sell and promote insurance as a product to the Nigerian public.
“We had a budget of over N300 million for that to which the commission has contributed about N40 million, the campaign will be begin by June 1, and that will do a lot to the industry.’’
Salami said the committee would on May 30, finalise a document tagged: “Insurance Industry Strategic Plan’’ which according to him will change the insurance environment of the country.
He explained that if the commitments in the document were adhered to, it would create more awareness and increase insurance penetration in the country.
He said: “another achievement within this three years is the expansion of insurance distribution channels.
The director said the sector in the past relied on brokers, but the commission came up with an initiative of expanding the distribution channels issued guidelines on how those channels would operate.
On financial inclusion, Salami said that as a way of increasing penetration, the commission registered two full-fledged “takaful companies, the Jaiz and Noor takaful’’, in Abuja and Lagos.
He noted that a third one was almost ready to be added and the essence of this was to ensure that people who were averse to the conventional insurance be would be included.
On delayed payment of claims, Salami explained that the commission had done a lot and was still doing more to ensure prompt payment of genuine claims.
He said the commission also ensured that its complaint bureau unit was headed by a professional to ensure that issues of delayed payment of claims or refusal to pay claims were resolved.
“And we have noticed that within the last three years, there have been tremendous improvements.
“In 2016 alone, the unit successfully resolved about 253 complaints resulting in claims pay out of over N5 billion.
“In 2017, also over 200 complaints were resolved for which about N2 billion in claims were paid by the insurance companies to the insured.
“So there is improvement and right now, we are beginning to see the insured making claims even on third party motor insurance and they are getting paid.
“Which means Nigerians are now becoming more aware of their rights and all of this could be attributed to the efforts of the commission to develop the insurance market.’’
However, Salami noted that more achievements could have been recorded if the government braced up to its responsibility.
“In this market, government still remains the biggest insurer. They have the asset, they have the compulsory group life insurance which they are supposed to take on behalf of their employees.
“If government can live up to its own responsibility of ensuring that its assets and liability are not just insured but correctly insured, it will mean a lot to the industry and to government itself.
“This is because when you insure your assets, it means that whatever misfortune you have the insurance will take care of it.
“But in the absence of insurance, government will still deep its hand in the treasury to replace those assets so monies that are supposed to go into other ventures will still be used in replacing the assets.
“But this are things that insurance can take care of conveniently, so it will be nice if the government can take this seriously the way it takes other issues.
“And on the part of the industry, it will be a boost to its business and there will be more contribution to the nation’s GDP.