Tuesday, November 30,
2021 / 10:38 AM / OpEd By Ekerete Ola Gam-Ikon / Header Image Credit: iStock
The fears were real and the expectations were high
that the insurance sector in Nigeria, like other sectors, would go through
unprecedented challenges as COVID-19 pandemic ravaged us on all sides.
Virtual conversations, webinars and news reports
conveyed increased uncertainties, which led to critical decisions. For example,
the outstanding action where insurers that were struggling with meeting
recapitalization requirements donated N500m and provided insurance coverage for
health professionals to support the fight of the Federal Government against
COVID-19 pandemic remains instructive in terms of how the insurance sector
needs to engage Nigerians and its leadership.
This may have become the turning point for the
insurance sector as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces
mentioned the support of the insurance sector in his April 2020 Presidential
Address and in May, the new Commissioner for Insurance got his substantive
position announced. The confidence of the insurance sector players and
regulator was therefore boosted.
Investing in or contributing to where you expect
results is essential! So this is the first factor that can be attributed to the
success the insurance sector recorded in 2020 financial year and set the path
for more growth in the coming years.
With the confidence won, more conversations on how to
respond to customers amidst the pandemic became focused on the opportunities
that emerged, from Nigerians requesting more information about insurance,
especially Health and Life Insurance.
Organizations were even eager to have Group Life
Insurance in place for their employees, in line with the law, before letting
them resume work after the lockdown.
Enlightenment of the insuring public became part of
the regular activities of some insurance companies and the regulator was on
hand to support these initiatives and events.
Here's the second factor responsible for the successes
achieved by insurers: Increased engagement of existing and potential
policyholders in a manner of providing answers to their questions and putting
to rest anxieties in certain areas. For example, the heavy rumblings in the
agricultural sector about investments through crowdfunding, which many thought
were covered by insurers while unfortunately were not, because traditional
insurers do not cover speculative risks.
Massive losses in agriculture, especially the deaths
of pigs and chickens in Lagos amongst others across the country forced more
discussions and actions on agric insurance.
Little surprise, a few leading insurers were getting
the regulator's approval to launch their health and agric insurance divisions
while the pandemic persisted.
In the midst of COVID-19 pandemic, the insurance
sector was creating new things rather than wait for the failures of some
companies that were sure not to meet the recapitalization deadline.
NAICOM proved its confidence in the future of the
insurance sector by announcing the issuance of six new insurance entities
including four insurers, one reinsurer and one Takaful.
Additionally, NAICOM announced that insurance
incumbents could offer microinsurance if they met their conditions.
The year that started with fears and concerns was
indeed ending with positives on all fronts except the issues that generally
affected the global and national economies.
Doing business with customers online and without the
personal touch often associated with insurance stood out as the most important
reason the insurance sector recorded successes. This is especially because the
insurance sector did not know the capacity it had to deploy and use technology
to enable their operations but the challenges presented by the pandemic brought
out the best in the best amongst our insurers.
Amidst the frustrations and threats the COVID-19
pandemic meted to us, some insurers provided accesses to their policyholders
which they did not know they could do. Even policy conditions were tested and,
when insurers rose to the occasions, policyholders were happy to share their
good news on social media platforms thereby encouraging others to take up
More Work Ahead
Notwithstanding the successes recorded both in
financial and non-financial terms, the insurance sector still has a lot of work
to do to reduce the trust deficit and ensure Nigerians have the confidence to
respond to any advertisement put forward by any insurer without asking for
Is it not intriguing that despite paying out N9b of
the estimated N20b claims to policyholders who suffered various losses
resulting from the violent destructions of properties that followed #EndSARS
protests in October 2020, the insuring public has remained unimpressed and
expects more from the insurance sector.
I think the narratives of the insurance sector players
need to change, while many Nigerians without insurance should be offered
insurance products that suit their lifestyles in the way they prefer to be
served and serviced.
Like it is said, the reward for hard work is more
work, so the insurance regulator and operators should be even more engaging as
the opportunities have just expanded.
Evidently, more investment in digitization and winning
the trust of Nigerians should occupy the minds of every stakeholder in
insurance as the sector goes into 2022, of course with the successes achieved
this year as well.
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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