Recapitalisation key to consolidating insurance for growth in Nigeria
● NIA advocates partnership with banks, others Tasks ● NAICOM to take action against erring firms
RECAPITALISA TION HOLDS THE KEY to consolidating insurance companies in Nigeria for growth, a roadmap document of the Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA) which highlights were presented by Yetunde Ilori, the director general of the association, has stated.
Ilori, who was highlighting how the NIA roadmap document can help to position the industry for growth, said after the current recapitalisation exercise, which is currently in court, no matter how it is done, the country will have stronger companies that can live up to their obligations and this will become more encouraging to the insuring public.
Lamenting insurance’s slow pace and failure to reach targeted projections, she noted that although commendable, there is a need to work with the appropriate institutions to reach the N1 trillion target. She said, “The N490 (in 2019) billion growth is minimal and we are not satisfied with where we are. I believe it can be improved upon and our N1 trillion target achieved, if all hands are on deck by all stakeholders in the industry. It will take collaborative effort of stakeholders within the industry. The operator, regulator and even the government have roles to play,” she said.
Informing that NIA was coordinating its members at its level to achieve the target, she pointed out that the industry regulator, Nigerian Insurance Commission (NAICOM), also has a major role to play by putting operators in the place where they should belong.
“If we go back to 2012 document by world-renowned management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, we will know what we should do or not do. In fact, we need to go and revalidate that document because a document of last year may no longer be relevant this year,” she said.
Calling for harmonization of the roadmap by the global reporting firm and that of the NIA, she said, “It is now time to harmonize the positions in these roadmaps. This is where we have to be. We need to revalidate these reports and chart a way forward. And I am so sure we can get to do the things that we promised to do. It only needs collaboration and not a fragmented industry.
“We should ask what are the things we are supposed to do that we are not doing and how can we start doing them. We need coordinated plans or programmes. We should ask ourselves what has happened in the plans that we had and not followed through with them because sometimes it’s not just about coming out with new plans.
“Also, the regulator and operators need to have a conversation around the issue. We can disagree and at the end look at who has a superior argument, not just because you are the regulator or operator, but in the interest of the industry.”
The DG also stressed the need to partner with other sectors (like the banking sector that has achieved laudable success) to drive financial inclusion and leverage on the achievement to connect with customers and deliver seamless insurance at affordable prices. According to her, if all agencies like the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO) at state levels collaborate with the NIA and see the reasons and the benefits therein for them, enforcement will be easy.
“I believe that if they see the figures, they will get involved. The way people treat insurance is that they can’t afford it whereas they can afford it. Because what they cannot afford is to lose assets or business they use their life to build.”
Noting that the NIA was doing a lot to ensure that with its Nigeria Insurance Industry Portal (NIIP), people can buy all the compulsory insurance from anywhere in the country and hit the target. She added, “It shouldn’t be about enforcement alone, people should see value in what they are buying and I believe value can be seen if we improve in the way of continuous education by everybody,”
“But sometimes, you need to help people to get to where they are supposed to be. Sometimes, without enforcement people just take things for granted,”
Speaking on cultural barriers, which has hindered growth in the industry for a long time, she said, “We have this mentality and culture that we can cover ourselves and that even if anything goes wrong, our family or friends will rally round without necessarily exploring the mechanism of insurance. It is true that we need people because that is our culture, but there is an institutional mechanism that can come to the rescue if anything should happen to you.”