Thursday, May 21, 2020 / 08:55 AM /By
Ekerete Ola Gam-Ikon / Header Image Credit: Pixabay
When centuries ago, some merchants astride their ships off the shores of Italy discussed the losses of their cargoes and came up with the idea of pooling resources together to be able to help those who experienced mishaps, it was not only a brilliant idea but also well received by all.
In England, a similar approach was adopted to address increased fire incidents.
Therefore, birth was given to what we know today as INSURANCE with the primary purpose of helping others in crises.
While modern developments in governance, finance, marketing, sales, customer relationship, law, healthcare, communication, technology and performance management may have emphasized self-motivation and personal development and created a new world of YOU, the foundational understanding of insurance has remained, in others.
Little surprise, today's insurance managers struggle, notwithstanding the strengths given by various laws, to sell insurance successfully because, quite often, people are told to buy insurance for themselves rather than others.
Early Products Served Others
An examination of most early products offered and sold by insurers and their representatives revealed that they were guided by the foundational purpose of bringing succour to others.
Marine Insurance, as the insurance designed by the shipping merchants was named, became acceptable to all stakeholders in that sector.
As far back as 16th century, insurers had started paying claims to policyholders for losses and damages to cargoes and ships. Today, Marine Insurance remains one of the non-negotiable insurances all over the world. International marine laws require that all cargoes and vessels on the sea must be insured and this is enforced in all countries.
Accordingly, when the Third Party Motor Insurance law was put in place, it was evidently to ensure that your insurance protects the interest of others on the road. Properties of third parties on the road were not only the cars but also the buildings and other structures including electric poles on the road. So, if your car accidentally hits any property on the road, your Third Party Motor Insurance policy is liable to pay others. In Nigeria, policyholders have access to a maximum of One Million Naira to fix any damage resulting from an accident where the policyholder is at fault.
Life Assurance policies subsequently became even more popular, and up till now, as the insurance you can put in place for others. These policies were sold and bought as reliable financial instrument for redemption after the demise of the breadwinner. All over the world, life policies not only stabilize families but provide such level of funds necessary for long term planning.
Changes in Lifestyle, Same Products?
Many have argued that the insurance industry has not responded enthusiastically to the changes that have occurred in our environment largely due to her seemingly weak capacity to develop new customer-friendly products.
It is certainly easy to refer to the expansive growth of the entertainment industry in Nigeria, for example, which was probably in a position like the insurance industry in the eyes of the public. They had used same (old insurance) principle of doing it for others and not themselves to win the followership they are enjoying today across the world.
With the understanding that insurance is for others, next step for our entertainers is to appreciate that just Five Thousand of them setting aside N5,000 each every month would give them access to high quality healthcare so we will not see our renowned actors and actresses, much later in life, seeking to survive on donations.
Same understanding is what our agribusiness actors should pursue. They should come together like the merchants of yore and agree to set aside part of their earnings to help others amongst them. Imagine if our growing population of agropreneurs decided to create a pool where a minimal sum of N500 is paid into on a monthly basis, the insurance industry will surely be excited to collaborate and provide innovative risk solutions.
Any large group of people with common interest can take this approach to have some members protect others when the unexpected and unfortunate happens. However insurance can do it better if the managers of these pools always remember that the interests of others come before theirs.
The Accountability of A Few Good Ones
Have you then wondered where we missed it and now have today's situation with many maintaining stoic doubts about the insurance system launched centuries ago to help others?
Simple. The funds pooled together laid idle for too long before the desperate minds put in charge.
The few persons who had responsibility to ensure that when reports of accidents and mishaps came from members of the group, they were addressed, rather chose to delay payments until the period of their investments of the funds matured.
While insurance became full-fledged businesses in many countries, many people in business adopted the philosophy of helping others to create numerous alternatives to conventional insurance, and those have been better trusted by individuals.
Will the way insurance is sold and bought ever emphasise the place of others again? I dare say, NO, yet it stands as the open road that insurers need to take if winning the populace matters.
Do we possibly require a new model for insurance in Nigeria? My answer is YES and the time is now!
A few good people are working on this.
About The Author
Ekerete Olawoye Gam-Ikon, MNIM, CPP, is a management consultant with a specialization in Strategy and Insurance. He is available through e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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