KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY THE Ag. COMMISSIONER FOR INSURANCE , Mr. O S. THOMAS AT THE 2ND INTERACTIVE SESSION WITH CONSUMERS OF INSURANCE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES HELD AT ORIENTAL HOTEL, VICTORIA ISLAND, LAGOS, ON NOVEMBER 4, 2019.
It is indeed my pleasure this beautiful morning to welcome you to this interactive session; an annual event organised by the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) as part of its mandate at ensuring adequate protection of insurance consumers in Nigeria.
I want to appreciate you all for honouring our invitation to be with us today to collectively X-ray the factors that could be responsible for poor service delivery in the sector. I am indeed glad to be here and in the midst of key and most valuable stakeholders of the insurance sector. This is one of the very rare moments where all stakeholders come together to discuss challenges confronting both the demand and supply sides of the insurance sector in the country
Customers’ satisfaction is central to the sustainability and success of every business, insurance inclusive. We are aware of some of the obvious challenges bedevilling the sector either on the side of operators, consumers, investors or regulator. These challenges could be very overwhelming, however we must not relent in looking for better ways to effectively and efficiently ensure delivery of quality services to policyholders.
From the regulatory perspective, policyholders remains a key component of our primary constituency and therefore must ensure they are treated fairly and protected as enshrine in the relevant laws; while at the same time balancing the supervisory role of ensuring financial soundness and reliability of insurance institutions in the country.
Suffice it to say that consumers are faced with challenges that may vary from one individual or entity’s experience to another while the provider is faced with constraints that may also differ from one company to the other. But there is no doubt regular interactions such as this one will amongst others foster a better understanding and synergy that will result to better services to the consumer.
The Commission took the step in 2018 to incept this platform that will provide the most critical stakeholder in the sector which is the consumer, the opportunity to be heard and be informed first-hand on the workings of the sector. Last year’s session was adjudged to be a huge success as critical issues affecting consumers of insurance products were brought to limelight.
Some of the takeaways from the event were:
1. The need for insurance companies to improve the quality of their service delivery,
2. Need for operators to launch innovative, consumer – specific and problem-solving products,
3. Need to leverage on technology to deepen insurance penetration and above all,
4. Need to ensure prompt payment of claims.
Let me inform you that these takeaways from the 2018 interaction with insurance consumers significantly contributed and shaped the Commission’ policy formulation process and eventual issuance of Guidelines and Circulars to the industry this past one year, especially in the areas of quality service delivery and ease of doing business.
It is imperative to note that NAICOM is well positioned to ensure adequate protection of policyholders at all times. As you may all be aware, the topic on consumer protection has become central to regulators around the globe and the insurance sector is not an exception. Continuing efforts and new reforms are being put in place by NAICOM to ensure prompt payment of genuine claims by insurers.
The Complaints Bureau Unit of the Commission has also been working assiduously to resolve policyholders’ issues relating to non-settlement of claims, contract agreement violation etc. It is pertinent to inform you that the Unit been further enhanced with the deployment of more staff at very senior level to effectively discharge assigned responsibilities. Its doors are widely open to receive and resolve, as much as it can, issues on non-settlement of genuine claims from the public.
The Commission has strong passion that insurance consumers are served right and feeling your pulse on the services offered you by your insurers will feed us with ingredients needed to strategise on repositioning the industry for better services. There is no doubt that we all desire a paradigm shift from the current state of our industry to a better state where we will not be grumbling on issues of prompt claims settlement, pricing of insurance products, value for money, innovative products etc. However, you will agree with me that none of these could be achieved if we don’t come together and discuss our successes and failures. I therefore implore you to feel free to express your views and speak on your experiences as consumers of insurance products in Nigeria.
It may be worthy for you to note that recent developments and reforms in our sector particularly, the recapitalisation exercise is a move to ensure that the industry becomes more robust in its technical competence and financial base. The process is aimed at repositioning the sector for self-actualization in terms of growth and development; the end result of which will be to enhance the ability of insurers to provide better protection and improved services to the customers.
In conclusion ladies and gentlemen, let me reassure you that the Commission shall continue to introduce new reforms and initiatives in line with international best practices for consumer protection and customer satisfaction. Henceforth, insurance companies will be assessed and ranked on the quality of their service delivery to customers and the ranking of companies in this regard will be made public in order to provoke healthy competition among insurers. This we believe will boost consumers’ choice and confidence in insurance.
Once again I thank you all for coming.
O. S. Thomas
Ag. Commissioner for Insurance