Stakeholders in the nation’s insurance industry have charged underwriting firms to utilise and reap the huge insurance potentials in the Nigeria.
The experts who spoke at the inauguration of Retail Insured Family Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) in Abuja, over the weekend, noted that insurance penetration of less than one per cent in the country is an aberration, when Nigeria is populated with a huge 160 million people, calling on operators to up their game.
The managing director, Universal Insurance Plc, Mr. Ben Ujoatuonu, who lauded the initiative, maintained that with increased public awareness and prompt settlement of claims to policyholders, Nigeria’s Insurance sector would thrive.
He said the nation’s insurance sector has great potential due to its huge population but is best be described as struggling, with less than one million adults having a form of insurance.
According to him, “Beyond restoring insurance industry confidence, there is need to further deepen insurance penetration in Nigeria.
The insurance industry must rise up to exploit Nigeria’s huge population to advantage. For a meaningful result, there should be a coordinated approach in creating awareness in the grassroots.
On a broader perspective, he said, synergies should be created between the regulator, operators and aggregators, adding that, schools awareness campaign is another major way to catch the students young.
The Chairman of the event, who is the Managing Partner, Carmel and Associates, Risk and Management Consultant, Hon. Lawrence Dafiode, commended the players in the insurance sector, while urging them to do more to drive the sector.
“We can all testify to the facts that the insurance industry in Nigeria has been performing below its potential and expectation. While many, at different times, have identified the challenges facing the industry, not much has been done to address them,” he said.
Principal Consultant, Mike O. Onyeka & Associates, Mr. Sam Onyeka, called for formidable platforms for advocating and protecting the interest of the vulnerable groups in the insurance system, stressing that insurance policyholders must come together to protect their common interest, as such platform will enable sustainable awareness and facilitate prompt settlement of genuine claims, thereby, applauding RIFAN for this novel idea.
He noted that beyond restoring insurance industry confidence, there is need to further deepen insurance penetration in Nigeria through massive public awareness drive, stressing that, it is worrisome to note that less than 1 million Nigerians have one form of insurance or another.
“The insurance sector in my view must rise up at this time, to exploit Nigeria’s huge population to advantage. The sector can borrow a leaf from countries like India, Brazil and others with similar population advantage. Massive grassroots sensitisation for Nigeria has become inevitable,” he said.
On how to reposition insurance business for enhance performance, he suggested that the industry should aggressively and proactively pursue review of Insurance Act 2003 and that public confidence should be restored through clear cut approach that guarantees policy holders’ protection.
He called on the industry operators to focus on the retail end of the market as this is the only way Life Insurance business can be developed.
On his part, deputy manager, Agric Underwriting, Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC), Mr. Rotimi Ayeola, urged the association to reach out to farmers in the country while carrying out its mandate of public awareness of insurance.
He also expressed NAIC’s desire to support RIFAN in taking care of the policyholders, adding that NAIC would play the role expected of it to drive insurance penetration.
Earlier, the National Chairman of RIFAN, Akin Bello, said the association’s membership spreads across 24 states in Nigeria and that the group is working assiduously to have members in the 36 states of the federation, adding that the association would leverage a robust information technology platform to guarantee protection of members’ interest.
He expressed the association’s continued desire to partner stakeholders in the sector to increase insurance awareness at the grassroots and enhance overall public confidence in insurance.
“RIFAN commends the efforts of the insurance industry at various levels, to improve the image of the insurance sector in Nigeria. We wish to identify with the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) for being proactive in seeking partnership with the various states through the new State Insurance Producers (SIP) model,” he pointed out.
RIFAN, he said, is registered under the laws of Nigeria as a free association of insurance policyholders in Nigeria with a mission to create awareness, increase public confidence and ensure prompt claims payment.