REMARKS BY MOHAMMED KARI, COMMISSIONER FOR INSURANCE AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, NATIONAL INSURANCE COMMISSION (NAICOM) AT THE 2016 INSURANCE BROKERS CONFERENCE AND EXHIBITION HELD ON THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2016 AT THE TRANSCORP HILTON HOTEL, ABUJA.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished guests, I would have been happier to just stand here and deliver a welcome address than the role they assigned me in the program. How can I be a Guest of honour in the mist of my profesional colleagues and in the presence of my bosses. But for our training as risk takers I would have refused the request.
I consider the scope of the theme for this conference “The Future Today” too wide to be covered in any single event, irrespective of the number of days allocate for such event. I say this because the topic touches all sectors of the economy that are either interwoven or interrelated and they complement each other. So the failure of one has a multiplier effect on all others. To a financial analyst, the subject could mean discounting the future to the present value/day. On another hand, if one equates and take this to a managerial school, the future today would mean to “make necessary preparations today to achieve future expectations (future goals)”.
For me as an insurance person and with the knowledge of the target audience gathered here today, I will restrict my remarks to “The Future Today for the Insurance Broking Profession in Nigeria”.
Insurance concepts, principles and practices perhaps look alien to the average insurance consumer. The policy holders find it difficult to comprehend the clauses, warranties and exclusions associated with insurance contracts. Thus, for a consumer to insure right and gain the benefit inherent in insurance consumption, such a consumer would definitely need the assistance of a professional. Suffice it to say the need for an Insurance intermediary originated as a result of this necessity and not by convenience.
An Insurance Broker therefore, is expected to apply his or her professional and in-depth knowledge of risks and the insurance market to secure and arrange suitable insurance policies for his or her clients.
One of the primary future goals of the National Insurance Commission is to have more informed insurance consumers in the system. And as it has been noted at many fora, there exist information gap between the insurer and the insured. What we have noticed is that while on one hand, the insurance service providers hardly explain enough what they sell (the contract document), on the other hand, the policyholders neither read nor ask questions about the contract document of what they buy. So the Insurance Broker is well positioned to bridge this gap.
Therefore, the task of the insurance Broker should go beyond the collection of premium, claims’ cheque (where applicable) and forwarding of renewal notices. Conscious effort should be made by the insurance broker to bridge the information and knowledge gap between the provider and the consumer.
The future market will certainly belong to that broker who has worked hard enough to secure the trust and loyalty of the consumer today.
The insurance sector will benefit the economy only when high penetration is achieved. I dare say that high penetration cannot be achieved when most providers concentrate their operations in the commercial cities of Nigeria.
Many Local Governments (and even some states) are without the presence of any insurance Institution. This provide all the space the so-called quarks need to shine. This obviously does not help the penetration of insurance in the country and does not promote future growth of the industry.
The Brokers could even take it a step further. With good understanding and proper arrangement, Brokers could actually enter into partnership with Insurance companies to represent their interest in up-country locations. The practice of all Brokers chasing the so-called “juicy” Government accounts should be discouraged. It is not helping the growth of the industry, while at them same time it has attracted unpalatable publicity.
It goes without saying that demonstration of professionalism is a necessity in Insurance business. When it is convenient we argue that our trade is a professional undertaken, but we operate as limited liability companies with shareholders/investors who are not trained in insurance but control our policies and operations.
High professional ethics, moral standards and discipline is expected of professionals and that is what we must give to gain that professional respect. We have to take the bull by the horn and exorcise the bad spirit within us.
In recent times, the commission had increased its oversight function on the activities of operators of this industry. The effort is already yielding positive results. In years past more Brokers operated without valid license than those with license. Today the story is different. We hope to sustain this good development and would also introduce additional distribution channels to improve penetration.
Your Excellency, Honourable Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen, I will conclude my brief remarks by reminding the insurance brokers that the Nigerian market remains huge and largely untapped. We don’t all have to operate in the cities or follow corporate accounts, there is more in selling personal-line or retail business using modern technology. We have gladly notice a shift to personal-line products of recent. And this move is being led by the advent of foreign players in the industry. One would expect that Insurance Brokers will take this opportunity to expand their operations in these areas.
I thank you for listening and wish you fruitful deliberations.
Commissioner for Insurance/CEO