How Culture and Religion Can Deepen Insurance Penetration in Nigeria

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Tuesday, October 05, 2021 / 09:13 AM / OpEd By Ekerete Ola Gam-Ikon / Header Image Credit: LegitNG


To be honest, conventional insurance is not foreign to our culture or religion, it is the inability of the promoters to use the means our culture and religion provide that makes it seem very challenging and difficult to achieve a higher rate of insurance penetration in Nigeria.


First, let us consider our culture. Quite easily, it can be said that every group or community has a way of doing things, especially when it comes to introducing a new person, thing or place. In most parts of Nigeria, it is the townhall meeting approach that is adopted, where the leaders of the communities gather the people and the visitors or bearers of the new thing are given an opportunity to interact with the people. Thereafter, questions are asked and answers offered with a promise to return at a later date.


The people hardly ever forget such outings as the visitors or promoters often leave behind gifts, in form of souvenirs and/or commissioned projects.


Otherwise, a different approach have been adopted where the leaders of communities are invited to a certain city centrally located, and the new thing unveiled to them, with the commission that they should go and enlighten their people.


This is our culture. That you should go out to meet those you seek patronage from or seek to help.


Next, our religion, majorly Christianity and Islam, which have the tradition of gatherings on days and seasons during the year.


Leaders of the respective religious groups numbering over a thousand across Nigeria are very influential and enjoy the loyalty of their members, who would do what they direct, most of the time.

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In both cases of culture and religion, the leaders often feel accountable to their people as the government at different levels would with citizens.


So, before we ascribe the reasons for low insurance penetration to culture and religion, the question for our insurance leadership is: How have you tried to use the soft approaches culture and religion offer to push the acceptance of insurance by the larger population of Nigerians and thereby deepen insurance penetration?


We would need to see those townhall meetings and have religious leaders speak more about insurance to their congregations before we maintain the age-long position that culture and religion are impediments to the growth of insurance in Nigeria.


No matter how challenging it may seem, we can acknowledge that Pastor Paul Adefarasin, in a widely circulated video, admonished members of House on the Rock to take Life Insurance so they can leave some inheritance for their loved ones. That message did not only bring awareness to many people but doused the apathy of some Christians towards insurance.


On the other hand, Takaful (Islamic Insurance) has become increasingly discussed to create the necessary awareness amongst Nigerians as the veritable alternative to the conventional insurance.


Islamic scholars know best how to educate Muslim faithfuls and having to talk about Takaful could not be a challenge.


Insurance companies, their agents, brokers and executives would need to look in the direction of our cultural and religious structure to expand the drive for inclusive insurance through Microinsurance and Takaful, the real game-changers for insurance penetration in Nigeria.


Post COVID-19, it has become quite obvious that there are more opportunities for growth amongst individuals and small businesses, yet the engagements to make them happen would need to follow the traditional approaches explained earlier.


Consequent upon such engagements of people, it would be much easier to introduce the technologies that will enable and drive what has been built.


So often, when we discuss how the insurance sector could scale up, we have mentioned the need to use local languages and the approach suggested here through culture and religion would be most appropriate.

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Using local languages to sell and frame insurance contracts without the townhall meetings will sound offish to many of our community people.


Connecting the people in diverse communities with and through insurance would be most interesting in this season when financial support for child education, house rent, weddings, burials and more have been reduced to WhatsApp groups where contributions are raised. Also, it has become impracticable to support friends and families due to the current unfavourable economic climate and there lies the gap for insurance.


Therefore, insurance companies need to seize the opportunities and engage the people, through cultural and religious leaders, to identify their challenges (needs) and create/amend products to suit such needs.


Interestingly, Nigerians will be required to do this for Nigerians and not anything like the existing products that seem impossible to slice into affordable bits in terms of prices and durations of covers.


Bringing it all back to the way we live and vibe will surely make insurance more exciting and I hope this helps to reduce the long list of inhibitors of the growth and development of insurance in Nigeria and Africa.


About The Author 

Ekerete Olawoye Gam-Ikon, MNIM, CPP, is a management consultant with a specialization in Strategy and Insurance. You can contact him via e:mail and mobile +234-806-648-1111.

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