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
The people hardly ever forget such outings as the
visitors or promoters often leave behind gifts, in form of souvenirs and/or
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.
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
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.
Using local languages to sell and frame insurance
contracts without the townhall meetings will sound offish to many of our
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and mobile +234-806-648-1111.
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