By ZAKA KHALIQ
No fewer than 10 insurance companies in the country have paid about N32.7 billion to insured Nigerians in a bid to compensate them for mishap that befell them in 2016, LEADERSHIP can exclusively reveal.
Most of the beneficiaries of the compensation are those whose houses or companies were gutted by fire or partially damaged, vehicle owners who lost their cars to road accidents, families of the deceased who lost their lives to inferno one way or the other, among others.
The said companies are Universal Insurance PLC, Anchor Insurance Company Limited, Cornerstone Insurance PLC, Consolidated Hallmark Insurance PLC, AIICO Insurance Plc, Mutual Benefits Assurance PLC, LASACO Assurance PLC, Law Union and Rock Insurance, Wapic Insurance PLC and NICON Insurance Limited.
For instance, at a time some companies are not finding it easy to pay claims as and when due, Universal Insurance Plc paid N110.1 million claims last year, a feat that was commended by industry observers.
Speaking on the development, the managing director, Universal Insurance PLC, Mr. Ben Ujoatuonu, noted that the company is presently meeting all its obligations, especially in the area of prompt claims settlement to clients and other stakeholders, adding that the insurer is liquid enough to carry out its civic responsibilities.
In the same vein, Cornerstone Insurance PLC said it paid gross claims of N4.5 billion to claimants in its 2016 financial year, representing an increase of 61 per cent from the N2.8 billion posted the previous year.
This, it said, was driven largely by death claims from group life, credit life and third party motor classes of insurance, even as high claims inflation and the security challenges in the North East and South- South zones of the country led to a significant deterioration in its claims.
Speaking at the 25th Annual General Meeting(AGM) of the company in Lagos recently, the group Chairman, Cornerstone Insurance Plc, Mr. Segun Adebanji, noted that the claim recovery of the firm was N1.1 billion as against N648 million in 2015.
He said the sharp increase in Claim expenses led to underwriting result of N696 million, compared to N1.6 billion in 2015.
At the 2016 Annual General Meeting(AGM) of the Consolidated Hallmark Insurance Plc in Lagos, its chairman, Mr. Obinna Ekezie, said the company recorded growth in claims payment as it rose from N1.34 billion in 2015 to N1.73 billion in 2016, representing an increase of 29 per cent.
AIICO Insurance PLC, on its part, said it met its claims obligation in 2016 financial year to the tune of N13.09 billion, a 23 per cent increase from N10.67 it paid out in 2015.
LASACO Assurance PLC, however, paid a sum of N538 million death benefits to 243 beneficiaries of the deceased employees of SUBEB and local government areas (LGAs) in Lagos State between July 2013 and May 2017.
In the same vein, chairman, Law Union & Rock Insurance Plc, Mr. Remi Babalola said the company’s mantra remains unfailing and prompt settlement of all claims, with Claims Paying Ability (CPA) rating of A- , noting that Law Union and Rock Insurance Plc paid out N1.45 billion claims in 2016.
The Group Managing Director, Royal Exchange Plc, Alhaji Auwalu Muktari, while speaking on his company’s 2016 financial results, said Net claims paid for the period under review amounted to N3.6billion, an increase of 20 per cent from 2015, which was N3.0billon.
A statement from the Head, Corporate Communication, Mutual Benefits Assurance PLC, Ellen Offo, said in 2016, the insurer paid out claims amounting to N3.3 billion, which is a 43 per cent increase from the N2.3 billion paid out in 2015.
This development, the company’s management said, is in line with its “firm commitment to honouring its obligations and delighting customers, while improving customer service excellence”.
Moreover, Wapic Insurance Plc said it paid out N3.8 billioin claims in its 2016 financial year end as part of its strategic efforts to demonstrate genuine commitment to clients’ obligations. This amount, according to the firm, was an increase of 76 per cent over the 2015 figure.
Anchor Insurance Company Limited paid in excess of N300 million claims to its esteemed customers in the year ended 2016 and in continuation of its commitment to prompt claims settlement, the company also paid over N250 million from the beginning of the year till the end of March , 2017.
In 2016, however, NICON Insurance paid total claims of N84.8 million to claimants, while in the current year (2017), it has paid total claims of N47.8 million.
Findings by LEADERSHIP showed that this was an improvement to what was posted in the preceding year by insurers, as more underwriters are now trying to pay genuine claims as and when due in a bid to woo more customers.
Further revelation showed that increase in claims values as a result of high inflation, foreign exchange volatility, recession and a surge in fake claims were responsible for a huge rise in claims payment in the last financial year of insurers.
Speaking on this development in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP, the president, Nigerian Council Of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB), Mr. Kayode Okunoren, said the surge in claim payment was caused by the current economic recession, coupled with the increase in fraudulent claims in the country.
Most of the amount paid on claims last year, he stressed, went into fraudulent claims as this over-bloats the claims profile of insurance industry last year.
He said, “Aside this, even with genuine claims, the cost of replacing an insured asset has risen. So, the replacement cost is not the same any more. It is easy for insurances that are designed on replacement values, but for those that are not designed on replacement values, they will be hoping that they will get replacement values and this puts some pressure on both the brokers and the underwriters because most time, you are pursuing some unknowns”.
Earlier, the chairman, Nigerian Insurers Association(NIA), Mr. Eddie Efekoha, had said, insurance operators have improved in the area of prompt payment of genuine claims, noting that the association has persuaded its members on the need to honour claims obligations.
Noting that is the reason why underwriting firms exist, he said the best form of insurance advocacy that operators can do is to pay claims.
Okunoren explained that the beneficiaries will spread the gospel of getting claims in insurance firms, thus persuading more people to pick up insurance policies.
He said insurance operators would continue to live up to their Claims responsibilities, noting that insurance should be considered first in decision making, especially now that it is difficult to replace lost items due to high cost.
He, therefore, advised his colleagues to publicize the claims they pay as this will increase insurance awareness and acceptance.