We are bright, intelligent and enterprising. We are graduates of the best business schools in the world and we influence decisions across different strata of the global economy. Importantly, we live amidst risks, the height of which is COVID-19 yet we remain determined to engage these agents of danger and death with our bare hands rather than invest in the weapon of risk management, insurance!
This is simply because we BELIEVE that taking an insurance policy is giving our money to some people who make promises they will not keep and give nothing when nothing happens after the expiration of the policies.
Sometimes, you would think it should be easier to sell insurance to the educated person who understands risks, disasters and disruptions but each time I have had a conversation around insurance and risk management with such persons, I am left wondering how we would have achieved progress as human beings, if not for the unschoolede amongst us.
The unschooled believe in trying even if they have doubts but the learned will use their grandfathers' cases to debate about why today's offering is not beneficial because of what happened decades ago.
I am not challenging their right to such opinion and would not get anxious given their opinions, however, observing how hundreds of millions of people in Nigeria and Africa go through each day with increasing risks without insurance due to the opinions held by the generation that knows all, gives me goosebumps.
Poverty probably arrived with our birth, however the level it has grown to presently results from our poor attention to wealth protection, a basic panacea that insurance offers. You cannot leave your door open when you know that hoodlums are in the area and could attack anytime; so why do you put yourself on the road without insurance when you know that risks abound out there.
In a short while from now, we will be holding elections across Nigeria and voters will go out without insurance despite the historical reports of accidents and deaths during the few hours we are required to cast our votes. Who will advise us?
Even when we hear how disasters happen in other climes and it is reported that insurers paid claims that enabled the victims return to their lives, our generation will ask "How come insurance does not work here as it works abroad?" My answer has been "It is so because the influencers and decision makers there are interested in a safe and comfortable life for themselves, what kind of life are you interested in giving us?"
This generation I am talking about incidentally enjoyed insurance (protection) but not the formal insurance. We were insured (protected) by our parents either through traditional acts or just ensuring if we went astray we would always return home, if you know what I mean. Today, such protection has reduced significantly, yet we do not have many of us taking up insurance and, given our entitlement mentality, we are hounding others, especially governments at different levels, to protect us from the ills we had created by our actions and inactions.
As this generation begins to transit and handover to the next, the message is not quite clear about what they should do regarding insurance. Thankfully, that next generation is a bit bolder and desirous of steering their ships according to the information at their speed.
It was easy for me to decide to look inwards for the answers to some of the questions and posers stated above and this is what I found:
1. This generation does exist as well in the insurance sector and have similar doubts as the rest of us but are in it for what they can get out of it; just for the job! They are not even encouraging their children to become actuaries, one of the most sought after professionals in the world because it has an insurance relationship. In their circumstances, to make a sale, they would not debate with their peers but would offer incentives for the transactions to be consummated. Are you still wondering why insurance discounts and commissions are the highest while the industry is the only one where prices are going down? Certainly, it is a generational challenge that is likely following us. My position: The earlier we have younger executives taking positions of responsibility and leadership in the insurance industry, the better will be our chances of achieving sustainability with regards to the insurance sector and its connection with the rest of the economy.
2. Insurance professionals and practitioners also need some kind of education about the way people think in our society. "Nothing goes for nothing" is a common slang that we have lived with for eons. Whilst insurers struggle to explain the principles behind not getting anything back after the expiration of one's policy without any claim, the philosophy of getting something, even when you do nothing, will not let our people understand insurance. My position: It is about time incumbent insurers set up a foundation where contributions can be made by profitable insurance companies to address everyday issues that will be pleasing to policyholders, especially those that get nothing after their contracts have lapsed.
3. Should the insurance operators continue to look up to the Federal Government for a lift? Truth be told, insurance in Nigeria is a LAW, just like tax, and we are expected to respect it and do the needful to comply. However, in a democratic setting where anyone with locus standi can challenge the law in a court, even the Regulator is expected to engage stakeholders exhaustibly before seeking to enforce the law. Little wonder, the widely announced recapitalization process was suspended following a court injunction. My position: Insurance operators should think very broadly, and deeply too, about the possibility of the absence of the government to act in their favour and seek to sell from the standpoint of VALUE. Once you think of value instead of law, your mind receives ideas and solutions that will distinguish you from others. The good thing is, there are already insurers, brokers and agents that are conducting their businesses this way, so it is possible.
Thanks, only to technology, some of these questions will be answered while others would wait a while.
Many insurers and brokers have been releasing and launching tech solutions that tell us how easy it has become to buy insurance from the convenience of our homes and that speaks of the progress the insurance industry is making. Yet, this generation is keenly interested in hearing and seeing how we can have our claims settled and paid without the hues and cries that follow individual insurance contracts.
It is my hope that we will continue announcing the number of individual and corporate policyholders as the Regulator had started with the 2020 position of 1.03m and 891,218 respectively. They gave the insurance industry about N525b as Gross Written Premium and we are hopeful to hit the One Trillion mark by 2023 based on the Strategic Plan of the Regulator.
Let the next generation get more insurance in the face of more risks until we are in a safe place in our minds to declare that insurance is the most potent risk management mechanism, which helps us through recovery management after disasters; COVID-19 has been a good test!
Which generation do you belong to?