BY ZAKA KHALIQ.
Mr Bayode Samuel is the Managing Director/CEO of NICON Insurance Limited. A practitioner with over 30 years of experience in the insurance industry, he spoke on ways to return NICON Insurance to the zenith of insurance business in Nigeria
Before you came in as the managing director of NICON, the company was owing backlog of outstanding claims. What are you doing to offset some of them?
It is true there was backlog of claims before I took over as managing director, almost two years ago. As soon as I became the MD, the management of the company kick-started a process to settle the outstanding claims.
This was in line with the policy of the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), that said in September 2015, that they will not tolerate any insurance company having outstanding claims.
To this end, we paid over N360 million and about $200,000 outstanding claims as at the end of September, 2015. We have been able to at least take care of all current outstanding claims.
Pension Transitional and Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) has been talking about pension fund trapped in insurance companies and NICON has a large chunk of that. What arrangement are you making to repatriate the funds to PTAD?
Pension funds are not trapped as it were in NICON. What happened was that we had defined benefits scheme that came into being, before the Pension Reforms Act that tried to restructure pension scheme in Nigeria.
Those funds are legacy funds that have been around for about 20 to 30 years of NICON Insurance. And of course, by law, you can’t put pension money in your files and start looking at it. It has to be invested for the future liabilities that they represent.
We had over N36 billion of such funds held by NICON Insurance, representing pension funds and of course, we put a lot of that money in properties. As at today, we are holding over N40 billion in terms of pension fund properties
In 2007, we settled a lot of pension liabilities in one single day, in a day I remember. Over N5.2 billion was used to settle pensioners’ liabilities in Nigerian Railways, NIPCO and other parastatals of the government. But it would be erroneous to say they are trapped in the company because the values are there in our books. What we have left in pension funds are properties and properties are assets. We have now made arrangements to evaluate properties and transfer the equivalent of the N13.3 billion we owe. We started from N36 billion and we have we have paid most of it, but remains about N13.3 billion. So, we have approached PTAD to take commensurate value of the assets and then we can hand over the title documents to PTAD.
How much claims has the company paid in the last few years?
Claims settlement is the reason why we are in business. Here at NICON Insurance, we strive to make your claim experience as easy and smooth as possible. And we’ll be there to walk you through every step of the process.
In 2015, NICON Insurance paid a total claim of N465.3 million to claimants. While General Business takes N229.5 of the claims settled, a sum of N9.5 million was paid as claims under the Students Welfare Insurance Scheme (SWIS), even as Group Life and Pension recorded N177.4 million claims, while the sum of N48.7 million claims were paid under Individual Life product.
In 2016, however, a total claim of N84.8 million were paid to claimants, with Individual Life product having the highest claims of N38. 5 million, followed by General Business products with N21.09 million claims paid. Under SWIS, Nicon Insurance paid N12.4 million compensation to claimants even as N12.7 million claims were paid under the Group Life and Pension.
In the current year (2017), we paid total claims of N47.8 million. General Business claimants got N21.8 million claims, N8 million paid on SWIS, Individual Life product gulp N17.5 million claims, while the sum of 166,505 claims was paid under the Group Life and Pension scheme.
In the last 29 months, we have paid total claims of N597.9 million, making us one of the few insurers that has, of recent, be consistent in honouring genuine claims, which is now becoming a strong selling point for NICON Insurance brand.
Then, going forward, what are you doing to ensure payment of claims as and when due?
Right from the time I took over, claims that are coming are paid as and when due, because we do not owe claims that are fresh and new in our books.
What is your projection for NICON Insurance?
The projection of the company is captured in our new business plan. The business plan is a sense of assumption and business value. We have to be able to grow the business and get it on the path of growth in the next five years. We have put together that business plan in alliance with what we call a road map as to how we want to grow in the next five years.
We have a set of assumptions and values we are working on to be able to make sure that we get out from where we are now to where we want to be, getting back to the zenith of insurance in Nigeria. The business plan is being funded to be implemented. Therefore, we expect that in few years’ time, we should be back to the zenith of insurance in the country.
Can you tell us more about your background?
I am an erudite technocrat and corporate insurance practitioner of over three decades experience in private and public service, experience and patriotism.
I hold a Bachelor Degree in Actuarial Science from the University of Lagos-Akoka. I commenced my career in the Nigerian Insurance Industry in 1984 with Leadway Assurance Limited and then to Industrial and General Insurance Plc.
In 1993, I set up and became the Managing Director of First Universal Insurance Brokers, a subsidiary of Universal Trust Bank of Nigeria (UTB), a position I held before my appointment as the chief executive officer of Jones Simplix & Co Ltd. I later moved to NICON Insurance as the executive director, Technical, where I was complemented for my ingenuity, exquisite skills of ideas generation and innovative ideas development and implementation.
I became the managing director and chief executive officer of NICON Insurance in 2015, a position I still hold.
I am an Associate of both the Chartered Insurance Institute of London (ACII) and the Chattered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN).