KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY THE Ag. COMMISSIONER FOR INSURANCE , Mr. O S. THOMAS AT THE SEMINAR FOR INSURANCE JOURNALISTS HELD AT BRISTOL PALACE HOTEL, KANO, KANO STATE ON JANUARY – 6, 2020.
Compliments of the season! It is a great pleasure for me to be in your midst this morning and it also gladdens my heart that we are meeting at this time; just 6 days into the New Year 2020. It goes a long way to show how much we cherish our relationship and our desire to improve on it.
The year 2019 obviously had its low and high moments, benefits and turbulences. Apparently, we all experienced its positive and negative consequences, leaving us with the bitter-sweet lessons that will ultimately shape our decision making in this and subsequent years.
The Commission as always must commend your contributions and support in the preceding years while also looking forward to a better working relationship and continuous collaboration with you on a sustainable basis. Your efforts in reporting the initiatives of the Commission and other information that have impacted positively on the image of the insurance industry is commended and well appreciated.
The theme for this seminar “Strategic Focus of the Commission in the year 2020; from Compliance to Development” is apt and timely as the Commission is shifting focus from compliance issues to emphasise more of its market developmental responsibility.
As the Year 2020 continues to unfold, giant strides will be made by the Commission in all aspects of its statutory responsibilities. This is the time to put the past behind us and look forward to a better and more vibrant sector. The task of building an insurance sector of our dreams is a collective one and thus, all hands must be on deck to ensure our dreams become realities.
We recognise the impact of conducive work environment to effective and efficient regulatory system and this will always remain our priority.
The second phase of the MDRI will soon be unveiled and it will mark out clear targets and tasks for all stakeholders in the industry. Going forward, we shall vigorously pursue the continued implementation of Compulsory Insurances in every nook and crannies of the Country. We are certainly not unaware of the challenges inhibiting the successful implementation of these classes of insurance thus far hence, our resolve to work with relevant stakeholders to ensure a seamless drive.
Indeed, the successful implementation of compulsory classes of insurance across the nation will ensure adequate protection of our strategic National Assets. We will be working with the relevant security agencies to guarantee effective and efficient monitoring of compliance.
The initiative to recapitalise the insurance sector is no longer news. The essence of the recapitalisation is a move to ensure that the industry becomes more robust in its technical competence and financial base, building confidence, trust and enhancing market value. This is aimed at repositioning the sector for self-actualization in terms of growth and development. I wouldn’t want to dwell much on this as the paper presenters will be giving us update on this initiative. But let me state in clear terms that the recapitalization process is up and running in line with the roadmap and the Commission will see to its logical conclusion come December 31, 2020.
The financial inclusion strategy has been central to the Federal Government developmental plan and the Commission has over the years invested hugely in the development of financial inclusion mechanisms which includes the introduction of Microinsurance and Takaful Insurance products. The introduction of these lines of insurance is intended to deepen the penetration of insurance in the country and bring into the fold majority of the populace that are hitherto excluded. So far, some milestones have been recorded in this regard with three standalone Microinsurance and four Takaful insurance companies already granted approvals.
The Commission shall continue to deploy more energy and resources in building public trust and confidence in insurance despite years of poor perception. In this regards, your optimum support is required as whatever you write or report about the industry will go a long way in building or destroying the fragile image of the sector. I will therefore implore you to carryout thorough investigation before writing or reporting any contentious issue about the sector. You are all professionals and we have so much respect for you in that regard.
The annuity business made headlines recently with a boost in the contribution of the business to the sector. The public is becoming more exposed and knowledgeable about the workings of Annuity, this we expect will continue as the future is looking very bright for the business as we have witnessed. This has also shown a positive growth in trust and confidence in the sector.
The Commission is committed to ensuring financial soundness and viability of the insurers and the adequate protection of policyholders at all times. These will continue to be part of our regulatory priorities. We will continue to ensure that genuine claims are promptly paid while also ensuring a reasonable protection of investments of shareholders.
In demonstrating its willingness to protect the policyholders, the Commission has further strengthened its Complaint Bureau Unit to respond to public complaints over claims settlement. Available statistics have shown that there have been great improvement in this area.
Ensuring the right pricing of insurance products and effective deployment of technology for ease of transaction are among the key areas the Commission will be emphasising this year. Digitalisation of insurance business is no longer an option, but an imperative which we all have to work towards its actualisation. As we may all be aware, the industry is currently lagging behind other financial services sectors in this area. The Commission is working vigorously to see that all its operations are digitalised. The year 2020 is a year for us to turnaround the fortunes of the industry and this cannot be accomplished without digitalising our processes and encouraging the industry to imbibe same.
The Commission shall in the course of the year will continue to introduce new reforms and initiatives in line with international best practices for attaining the level of growth and development we all desire for the sector.
Once again I welcome you all to this seminar and wish you successful stay in the ancient city of Kano.
O. S. Thomas
Ag. Commissioner for Insurance