"I heard insurance companies have been settling the claims of people who suffered losses during the violent protests last year" read the message I received from a renowned MSME Coach and Renewable Energy Developer. "Yes, that's correct. I am particularly excited that we're now beginning to have evidence that Nigerians can relate with and indeed, believe that the insurance industry in Nigeria is truly committed to prompt claims payments."
"I believe, and I tell people" said the Coach.
Are the Dots Finally Connecting?
During the week, the trade association of insurance companies in Nigeria, Nigeria Insurers Association (NIA) informed the Punch Newspapers that 25 of its members had received 1,661 claims resulting from the protests, which amounted to NGN20.4b and a reserve of NGN13.2b has been made.
Quoting the Director General, Mrs. Yetunde Ilori, "Out of a total of 1,661 claims that we have received, 143 have been fully settled; a total of N105m claims had been paid; 539 claimants are yet to substantiate their claims with the necessary documents; seven claims were repudiated because they were not covered by any of the policies; while 972 claims are going to be settled."
This is certainly a good place to start from if the insurance industry in Nigeria is to be taken seriously by Nigerians that have continued to doubt the abilities and readiness of insurers to pay claims.
The policyholders, comprising private businesses and government agencies, that have been paid are back in business and work will continue. Many Nigerians who would have become unemployed will be able to return to their jobs and continue to maintain their families while the society enjoys reasonable level of peace.
On the other hand, businesses that receive their claims payments would be able to continue producing, selling and impacting their environments, and importantly, the governments at all levels will be collecting their taxes and levies.
While we recognise, and can say, that the insurance companies have a duty to their policyholders, we consider that it must be a strain on their financial capacity knowing that they have also been badly hit by the harsh economic environment and due to the impact of COVID-19 were unable to conclude the recapitalization process.
Arguably, this is what the actual role of insurance is in the economic development of nations - enabling rebounds and ensuring resilience!
By simply providing information on what the insurance industry has done regarding the claims recorded during the protests, NIA has shown that they are listening to what Nigerians want if they expect to have more insurance policies sold and the insurance penetration deepened.
Surely, with this step, we can expect to see a new season of effective communication where we can regularly receive information and data from NIA in the form that can enable us measure and evaluate the impact of insurance on the economy.
Going the Extra Mile
Individual policyholders who have continued to complain and protest, some over two years, about non-payment of their Life policies' claims can be hopeful that their cases will receive similar attention as those resulting from the protests.
Will NIA go the extra mile?
The statistics are available, and the template seem to be in place, so it is expected that NIA can embark on an industry-wide action to keep the public informed about claims and see the insurance industry trending.
The association should consider sharing the details of the number of claims per class of insurance. Nigerians will be interested in knowing the number of Motor Insurance claims in a month, those fully settled, those unsubstantiated and repudiated and, importantly, the value of these in Naira.
We have had several incidents of fire and collapse of buildings in major cities in Nigeria and where the claims were settled by insurers, the NIA needs to tell Nigerians through available traditional and social media platforms.
We should not deny Nigerians the information that certain sectors of the economy have been saved by the insurance industry through claims payments by NIA simply releasing such statistics on sectoral basis.
This season calls for sharing reliable data that changes mindset and attracts partnerships and collaborations.
A Word for the Uninsured
To the uninsured that suffered losses and damages during the protests, who outnumber those that had insurance cover, we leave them with words to comfort them and hope they have learnt useful lessons from their experiences.
This is the time for the insurance industry under the aegis of NIA to collaborate with the associations focused on MSMEs and conduct "Insurance Clinics" across the country leveraging the locations of their members.
The more people learn about insurance when they feel they do not need it, the better they will appreciate it when the need arises.
In the limit, I am impressed with the details provided thus far by NIA and quite optimistic that the insurance industry in Nigeria will arouse and attract the interests of many more Nigerians if this can be taken beyond the cases of the protests to the wider operations; after all, the NIA has the current and correct data. More people need to be convinced and the data would get the job done.