August 15, 2011
THE National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) Steering Committee met on August 4, 2011 in Lagos to strategise on how best to implement and enforce the five compulsory insurances under the Market Development and Restructuring Initiative (MDRI).
The MDRI Steering committee is made up of CEOs of Insurance companies. Attendance was impressive with virtually all the companies represented either by their CEOs or executive directors.
Alhaji Adamu Balanti, director, Research, Statistics and Information Technology (R,S&IT) opened deliberations by informing members that the Commission was now set for the enforcement of the programme in September. He touched briefly on the recent raids in VIO offices in Abuja and stressed that it would be a continuous exercise.
Members applauded the Commission’s efforts in this regard but pleaded that it be extended to local government levels.
Consultant on the MDRI project, Chief Yemi Soladoye, took the committee through the various stages the programme has gone through so far and said that eventually, the programme would be domiciled in the industry. Members wanted to know if domiciling it in the industry would mean the Commission complete hands off of the programme.
Their fear was that if they are to go about enforcing the programme, it could cause them their prospective clients. Soladoye assured them that the Commission would still be very much involved. However, the Consultant reiterated the fact that the MDRI project is an industry affair.
He also entertained other questions and told members that the enforcement teams would be trained all over the country before the enforcement exercise proper and this would be done between August and September when the enforcement is expected to commence fully.
However, to be able to make a good meaning out of the programme, he said agents would be a veritable medium for reaching the expected target. Questions were raised as to the modalities of agents’ registration. The operators claimed high turnover of agents as a disincentive to the agency system.
Soladoye saw nothing wrong with the agency system. He said for underwriters to be able to train and retain the agents for reasonable productivity, steps should be taken to ensure that agents are treated as part of the company and not some outsiders who have no career in the company. He said, there is nothing wrong in an agent rising to become executive director or even CEO of an underwriting firm.
He believes if agents are treated this way and they know they have a future in the company, not only would they want to stay put, staff in other departments would be wanting to convert to agents instead of the current situation where agents plead to be converted to full time staff.
The Deputy Director, Authorisation and Policy (A&P), Mr. Leo Akah, told the committee that the Commission was doing all it could to encourage the agency system. He said, part of that strategy is the reduction of the registration fee for agents from N15,000 to N1,000. He hopes that the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN) would do the same to promote the agency business in the industry.
Mr. Akah also spoke of the Commission’s recent raid of licencing and Vehicle Inspection Officer (VIO) offices in Abuja and said that the incidence of fake insurance agents had gone quite deep.
He said the fake agents have gone beyond using the names of invalid companies to those of existing ones. According to him, a good number of the fake insurance agents arrested during the raid were actually trading in the certificates of most of the existing companies. He said the raid would go beyond Abuja to other major cities across the country until the incidences of fake insurance agents are curtailed.
He, however, pleaded with the operators to assist the Commission in its current efforts of ridden the industry of the activities of fake insurance operators. He said an operator should be alarmed when he finds out that someone was trading in its name without authorization. If the operators could do this, a lot of grounds would be covered in the fight against the fake operators.
The NIA Director General, Mr. Sunday Thomas, however, says the battle against fake insurance agents would ultimately be won with migration from paper to computerised plastic policy document. He revealed the NIA is working hard on this and before long it would be rolled out.