By ZAKA KHALIQ, Lagos
To cope with the challenges posed by the outbreak of the coronavirus outbreak in Nigeria, insurance companies in the country have upgraded their Information Technology (IT) systems for effective customer interaction and also sell their policies online.
With the federal and some state governments entrenching physical and social distancing to limit human physical contacts to curb the spread of the virus, LEADERSHIP learnt that insurers opted to leverage on their IT platforms to sell policies as well as pay claims emanating from insured risks online.
Under the arrangement, a prospective policyholder can link up to the website of his choicest insurer, provide the necessary information, pay the premium and get his policy document printed without visiting the office of the insurance outfit.
In its trial phase, the initiative is limited to motor insurance policy, since most insurance policies will demand further physical checks to authenticate the information provided by the would-be insured, there are plans to extend it to other policies soon.
Despite the recent lockdown which affected most businesses, insurers were still selling policies and even paying claims running into millions of naira through their respective electronic channels.
Hence, underwriters are improving on their online platform to continue to provide services to insurance policyholders online despite the challenging business atmosphere created by COVID-19.
Great Nigeria Insurance (GNI) Plc has promised to continue to provide seamless and quality services to its policyholders through its IT platforms, irrespective of the current challenges. Its managing director/CEO, Mrs. Cecilia Osipitan, said: “In a bid to stay true to our commitment of delivering quality service to our valued customers, alternative service channels have been made available for seamless access to all insurance products and services available under the stable of GNI Plc. On your mobile please explore our USSD Platform by dialing *5076# for self-service, easy premium remittance, policy renewal and prompt claims settlement.”
Similarly, Unitrust Insurance Company Limited has provided alternative communication lines to interact with its policyholders and stakeholders.
The move, according to the firm, was to continue to serve customers and the business community better and align with the current trend.
Similarly, Guinea Insurance Plc and Royal Exchange Plc have directed their customers to leverage on their online platforms for their insurance services while Old Mutual Nigeria has launched an electronic channel to ensure unbroken and convenient access to insurance benefits and claims for its customers.
The firm said that the policyholders, despite the challenge, can make claims through its digital and mobile-friendly, e-commerce web portal to ensure that their access to the benefits of insurance remains sacrosanct.
The e-claims channel, according to the company, is in line with the brand‘s commitment to providing accessible, swifter, convenient, affordable, tailor-made and exceptional customer-service inspired insurance services to the Nigerian customers.
Commenting on the development, executive head, Marketing, Old Mutual Nigeria, Alero Ladipo, said that the launch of the brand‘s revamped e-commerce web portal aligns with its continuous leverage of digital innovations to deepen accessibility to its insurance solutions to its customers.
Moreover, AIICO Insurance Plc paid its policyholders N350 million claims within the first 48 hours of COVID-19 lockdown in the country. According to its executive director, Retail Business, Mr. Sola Ajayi, “we have been responding non-stop to our customers for payment of claims, policy loans, partial and full maturity benefits, among others, since the lockdown took effect. At AIICO, we are customer-centric; we put them first, and that differentiates us.”
Its managing director/CEO, Mr Babatunde Fajemirokun, stated that the company was also leveraging its technology platforms and digital channels for optimum service delivery, adding that, the customer traffic on its digital platforms had increased tremendously in recent times.
Meanwhile, Linkage Assurance Plc has also activated its online platforms to serve its customers and ensure continuity of operations during the period of lockdown over the COVID -19 pandemic.
A statement from the company read: “We have activated our systems i.e. online platforms to enable us continue to provide insurance services during this period with uninterrupted accesses to our offerings.” The company added that, it remains accessible through her e-commerce website, www.linkageassurance.com for self-service and assistance to renew policy, purchase insurance covers and report claims.
Others, such as LEADWAY Assurance, FBN General Insurance Company, Wapic Insurance Plc, Sunu Assurance Nigeria Plc, especially those on the business of general insurances, have joined the fray.