From left: Manager Partner, Carmel & Associates, Hon Lawrence Dafiode; National Chairman, Retail Insured Family Association of Nigeria, Akin Bello and Managing Director, Universal Insurance Plc, Ben Ujoatuonu at the event in Abuja.
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Chuks Udo Okonta
Retail insurance business has received a boost with today’s inauguration of Retail Insured Family Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) aimed at enhancing insurance awareness as well as protecting the interest of policyholders.
The inauguration, which held in Abuja, attracted distinguished guests from different sectors of the economy, who applauded the formation of Nigeria’s first retail insurance policyholders group that will help tackle the challenge of low insurance penetration.
The National Chairman of RIFAN, Akin Bello, said the association’s membership spreads across 24 states in Nigeria and that the group is working assiduously to have members in the 36 states of the federation, adding that the association would leverage a robust information technology platform to guarantee protection of members’ interest.
He expressed the association’s continued desire to partner stakeholders in the sector to increase insurance awareness at the grassroots and enhance overall public confidence in insurance.
“RIFAN commends the efforts of the insurance industry at various levels, to improve the image of the insurance sector in Nigeria.
“We wish to identify with the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) for being proactive in seeking partnership with the various states through the new State Insurance Producers (SIP) model.
“RIFAN hereby pledges her commitment to continue to support NAICOM in this direction,” he said.
He posited that RIFAN is registered under the laws of Nigeria as a free association of insurance policyholders in Nigeria with a mission to create awareness, increase public confidence and ensure prompt claims payment.
Managing Director, Universal Insurance Plc, Ben Ujoatuonu, who lauded the initiative, maintained that with increased public awareness and prompt settlement of claims to policyholders, Nigeria’s Insurance sector would thrive.
He said Nigeria’s insurance sector has great potential due to its huge population but is best be described as struggling, with less than one million adults having a form of insurance.
“Beyond restoring insurance industry confidence, there is need to further deepen insurance penetration in Nigeria.
“The insurance industry must rise up to exploit Nigeria’s huge population to advantage; for a meaningful result, there should be coordinated approach in creating awareness in the grass root.
“On a broader perspective, synergies should be created between the regulator, operators and aggregators also, schools awareness campaign is another major way to `catch them young,” he posited.
The Chairman of the event, Managing Partner, Carmel and Associates, Risk and Management Consultant, Hon. Lawrence Dafiode, commended the players in the insurance sector, while urging them to do more to drive the sector.
“We can all testify to the facts that the insurance industry in Nigeria has been performing below its potential and expectation.
“While many, at different times, have identified the challenges facing the industry, not much has been done to address them.
“It is for this purpose that I am happy to be part of this occasion as we inaugurate an organisation that aim at improving the performance of the industry by focusing on its retail end,” he said.
Principal Consultant, Mike O. Onyeka & Associates, Sam Onyeka PhD., called for formidable platforms for advocating and protecting the interest of the vulnerable groups in the insurance system, stressing that insurance policyholders must come together to protect their common interest, as such platform will enable sustainable awareness and facilitate prompt settlement of genuine claims. “Luckily RIFAN will have a role to play in facilitating the desired platform,” he said.
He noted that beyond restoring insurance industry confidence, there is need to further deepen insurance penetration in Nigeria through massive public awareness drive, stressing that it is worrisome to note that less than 1 million Nigerians have one form of insurance or another.
“The insurance sector in my view must rise up at this time, to exploit Nigeria’s huge population to advantage. The sector can borrow a leaf from countries like India, Brazil and others with similar population advantage. Massive grassroots sensitization for Nigeria has become inevitable,” he said.
On how to reposition insurance business for enhance performance, he suggested that the industry should aggressively and proactively pursue review of Insurance Act 2003 and that public confidence should be restored through clear cut approach that guarantees policy holders’ protection.
He called on the industry operators to focus on the retail end of the market as this is the only way Life Insurance business can be developed.
He canvassed that there should be continuous and sustainable creation of awareness at the grassroots.
Deputy Manager, Agric Underwriting, Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC) Rotimi Ayeola, urged the association to reach out to farmers in the country while carrying out its mandate of public awareness of insurance.
He also expressed NAIC’s desire to support RIFAN in taking care of the policyholders, adding that NAIC would play the role expected of it to drive insurance penetration.
Head of Retail, Great Nigeria Insurance Plc, Amaka Fidelis; representatives of Leadway Assurance Limited and Veritas insurance all commended the management of RIFAN for taking the bold initiatives and pledged their commitment to support the association in every way possible.