Wednesday, April 03, 2019 / 05.07PM
/ By Ekerete Ola Gam-Ikon MNIM, CPP
Experience, locally and globally, reveals that when you desire to satisfy your customers, you RESPOND to their complaints and suggestions but when you intend to excite (wow) them, you go beyond their expectations and imaginations!
Which of these two have insurance companies in Nigeria done? Arguably, one can say a lot is being done to make insurance more friendly and acceptable but proponents of better customer experiences in the insurance industry in Nigeria, like me, assert that where the lot came from "a lot more" can come IF only the operators can start from addressing the complaints of the policyholders.
You cannot sell me an improved version of the product I am complaining about!
Together We Win
While I commend insurance companies that have recently broken through the ranks to push their brands, it is somewhat sympathetic that their efforts are still not addressing policyholders' complaints - unsettled claims.
Admirers of these brands are quick to say that they are not the insurance companies owing claims and their records are excellent. Is it not sad that they even have to face those queries and have to clarify?
Methink, there ought to have been a rippling campaign that the policyholders would have seen, either indicating the collective efforts made to get insurers that are owing claims to pay or expressing deep regrets about the untenable attitude of such bad insurers before proceeding to "sell new promises".
Insurance companies are independently doing a lot to improve the environment but need to work more together on the issue of unsettled claims to move forward to a transformational path.
There has to be one reason why insurance companies are NOT RESPONDING to the hues and cries of policyholders, big and small, that have unsettled claims stretching for nine months and more.
That reason is simply that insurance companies do not see policyholders as their means of survival! You don't have to agree.
One customer's complaint should be seen as the insurance industry's poison.
Compare the insurance industry in Nigeria to the movie industry, Nollywood, as I have often done in explaining this problem of unsettled claims. Nollywood is what it is today all over the world because they responded to our complaints and suggestions. More than "juju films" of the past, we have varieties of movies produced for the broad range of movie lovers in Nigeria and diaspora because the movie makers responded; took positive action.
There are other sectors like pharmaceuticals and hospitality that have embraced the suggestions of customers and seen growth but insurance may have stagnated on account of "non-compliance" with customers' suggestions.
An Exciting Tomorrow
What will excite customers of insurance companies into 2020 is the ease with which their claims will be settled digitally with no human involvement.
It is possible. It is achievable.
And this is how the narrative of the insurance industry in Nigeria will begin to change and the market become transformed.
Nigerians are not buying insurance because THEY DO NOT TRUST THAT THEIR CLAIMS WILL BE PAID. So, what they need is to SEE how their claims will be paid, not hear. No more. They have heard enough.
This is the singular most expressed reason I have heard from interactions with potential and existing policyholders as well as professionals within the insurance industry. Guess what? Even intermediaries (agents and brokers) suffer unjustified and unexplained delays from insurance companies on their commissions! This is their own claims and a story for another day.
There is a great new exciting future that awaits the insurance industry in Nigeria IF the solutions that are launched address prompt settlement of claims without human involvement and drama.
Need I remind us that there was an insurance company in Nigeria that offered replacement cars to their policyholders who had claims and no car to use?
Collaboration is the way to go
In the age we are, and going to, insurance companies MUST deliberately work with digital solution providers.
Firstly, we should seek to answer the question: What needs to be done when a claim occurs that cannot be done without seeing anyone from the insurance company?
Primarily, access to the policyholder's usage of the insured item, for example, car. The technology to know the location of a person or thing is available and affordable.
So, assuming a policyholder is involved in a car accident and calls her insurer, her location can be determined just as the policy is authenticated and she begins to receive attention right there. All the necessary details can be exchanged and the collaborating parties of the insurer - towing and repair services attend to the issue without the appearance of anyone from the insurance company.
Customers want solutions not visits!
Lest you say this cannot work in Nigeria, remember everything starts as a pilot scheme, so policyholders in the increasingly suffocating Lagos and compliant Abuja can start.
Next, when that claim occurs, like the collapse of a building (insured or not), rescue workers and law enforcement officers should remember to speak about the insurance status of the building. Or may be we need insurance to be part of the national emergency management or any emergency response team? Why not?
To do this, the insurance industry operators only need to identify some people within the existing chain of activities who would serve as the connection between the insurance industry and such sector. Let us not seek to send trained insurance executives there rather let us train those on the job to pay attention to insurance in their environment.
On the "Claims Value Chain" within the insurance industry in Nigeria, there are opportunities for numerous partners that we can discuss at C-level fora if we would agree that the key to unlocking the potential of insurance is Prompt Claim Settlement Solutions!
Let the focus shift to addressing the complaints, implementing the suggestions and connecting with policyholders.
99% of Nigerians do not have any form of insurance!
Think about this as we approach 2020 insurance year digitally.
About The Author
Ekerete Olawoye Gam-Ikon, MNIM, CPP is a management consultant with specialization in Strategy and Insurance. He can be reached vide telephone on +234-806-648-1111 and +234-802-585-0344 or by e-mail vide firstname.lastname@example.org
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