Chairman, Nigerian Insurers Association, Tope Smart (4th right) with other dignitaries at the event.
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Chuks Udo Okonta
The Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA) today took another giant step in the fight against fake motor insurance policy as it launched the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) code *565*11# that would enable motorists verify the authenticity of their insurance policies.
Chairman of the NIA, Tope Smart at the launch in Lagos, said the device was designed to bring insurance closer to the people and ultimately eliminate fake insurance certificates in the market.
He noted that in 2010 the association took a major step towards eliminating fake insurance certificates in the market through the inception of the Nigerian Insurance Industry Database (NIID), stressing that the database went live in 2011 and insurance policies obtained by motorists could be checked real time online on the internet and through dedicated hand held devices.
He said the objective of the NIID is to serve as an authentic database of the Nigerian insurance industry data providing qualitative statistics/analysis of the industry data! as well as a vehicle for easy verification of genuine insurance certificates by all stakeholders and to reduce incidences of fraudulent insurance transactions especially for motor and marine policies.
Dignitaries at the event
Smart posited that the industry has continued to reap the benefits of the scheme, adding that prior to the establishment of the platform, cloning and faking of insurance certificates was a thriving business, but the establishment of the database has assisted the industry in reducing the incidents of fake insurance certificates in the market and that presently, there are over three million vehicle details on the platform.
He noted that the platform has been enhanced to include stolen vehicles and claims reporting modules in response to the challenges thrown up by actions of suspected fraudsters that made multiple claims with the intent to defraud the industry over the last few years.
“The NIID platform had been operational nationwide, but with challenges in verification in areas with poor internet coverage. Verification of motor certificates through the dedicated devices became highly impaired due to the vicissitudes of internet operations in the hinterlands. This led to the introduction of the USSD technology.
“The USSD is a Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) technology used to send text between a mobile phone and an application programme in the network. It works independent of internet connectivity. In this instance, any mobile phone (not necessarily a smartphone) would communicate with the NIID system to retrieve policy status whenever required.
“It is hoped that with the USSD, we would have fully overcome the problems associated with the dedicated devices as it guarantees uninterrupted service throughout the country and on all networks. Our existing and prospective customers now have the opportunity to confirm the genuineness of their respective policies at the time of purchase to avoid any embarrassment should claim occur,” he said.
He appreciated partners such as Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc and Courteville Business Solutions Plc. for their support and do assure them of more strategic partnerships as the association develops other modules to improve insurance business in Nigeria.
“The success recorded so far cannot be complete without acknowledging the co-operation and support received from the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Vehicle Inspection Services (VIS) of various States, Nigeria Police Force (NPF), National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and other stakeholders in the insurance industry,” he said.
The Acting Managing Director, Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System, Niyi Ajao, said the device will assist motorists in acquiring genuine policies and getting claims whenever there is problem with their insured vehicles.
From left: Chairman, NIA, Tope Smart; a guest and Dirctor General, Mrs Yetunde Ilori.
He said the device operates on platforms of the major mobile telecommunications providers in the country, stressing that it is a win – win for insurance operators and motorists.
Managing Director, Courteville Business Solutions Plc, Dr. Adebola Akindele, said there is huge insurance potentials in the country and urged insurers to take the campaign on the device to states where there are presently less enforcement and millennials who are mostly consumers of technological devices.
He told insurers to redouble efforts in ensuring that the number of insured vehicles surpass what it is presently.
The Commissioner for Insurance, Mohammed Kari, who was represented at the event by a member of staff of the commission, said the device would really impact the industry positively as it will help weed out fake policies.
The Zonal Commander, Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), John Meheux, said the device will help close the gap between fake and genuine motor insurance policies. He pledged his commission’s support to the insurance industry, whilst urging insurers to be alive to their claims settlement responsibilities.
Representative of the Vehicle Inspection Service (VIS), Balogun H. O., said the Service will continue to partner the insurance industry, adding that through efforts of his Commission, 60 to 70 per cent of the public now appreciate insurance as a good tool to mitigate risks.
Director-General of the NIA, Mrs Yetunde Ilori, said the device will help motorists to get regular information on insurance and other relevant matters, adding that the campaign will be taking round the country.
She urged policyholders with genuine claims issues to leverage the association’s complaints bureau to sort out their problems.
She said the NIA will continue to partner other organisations to ensure the public maximize benefits from insurance.