Insurers, pension operators see growth prospects in embracing artificial intelligence

Caption: From left: Ajibola Bankole, Deputy Director/representative of Commissioner for Insurance, Sunday Thomas; Edwin Igbiti, President, Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria; Tope Smart, Chairman of occasion/Chairman, NEM Insurance Plc; Nkechi Naeche Esezobor, Publisher/ Convener of BusinessToday annual Conference/ Exhibition; Johnson Chukwu, keynote speaker and Managing Director/CEO, Cowry Asset Ltd, and Oguche Agudah, Chief Executive Officer, Pension Funds Operators of Nigeria (PenOp), during the 8th BusinessToday annual conference, held on yesterday at the Ballroom of Oriental hotel, Lagos.

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Chuks Udo Okonta

Insurance and pension practitioners have agreed to spur their operations by harnessing opportunities provided by artificial intelligence.

Their resolved also aligned with the position of the Commissioner for Insurance/CEO, National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), Sunday Thomas, who believes that artificial intelligence is key to the future of insurance business in Nigeria.

Thomas, in his keynote address at the 8th BusinessToday annual conference & Exhibition held in Lagos, recently with the theme ‘The World of AI: How Insurance And Pension Sectors Can Explore Opportunities For Market Penetration’, urged insurance operators to increase adoption in this area as it gives better productivity and enhance profitability while ensuring quick service delivery and claims payment to insurance consumers.

Thomas who was represented at the conference by the Deputy Director, Lagos Office of NAICOM, Ajibola Olabisi Bankole, said Technology adoption is part of the 10-year roadmap of the insurance industry, stating that, NAICOM , as a regulator, will continue to evolve policies that will engender the growth of the industry, increases penetration and contribution to nation’s GDP.

Earlier in his Goodwill message at the conference, the conference chairman who is also the chairman of NEM Insurance Plc, Tope Smart, was unhappy with the level of insurance penetration in Nigeria when benchmarked with the global penetration, noting that, a lot of factors were responsible for this.

He said lack of or low enforcement is affecting the adoption of compulsory insurances even as he said that the industry is working assiduously to partner agencies responsible for enforcement so as to increase insurance adoption.

“It is quite saddening that out of a population of 200 million, only about 3 million people are actually insured. Lack of enforcement is a challenge but the industry is working round the clock to increase enforcement through the regulatory and enforcement bodies.

“Consumers apathy due to bad experience they have had in the past, is affecting policy renewals but I can assure Nigerians that there are various complaint avenues for people to lodge complaints. If your legitimate claims are not settled, you can approach Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA) and NAICOM, and if your complaints are genuine, they will be definitely resolved,” he assured.

The president, Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria(CIIN), Mr. Edwin Igbiti, said growing insurance industry will require that the nation’s economy be derisk, while seeking partnership with government and other stakeholders to deepen insurance penetration.

He submitted that, AI will increase insurance premium growth, enhances service delivery and ensure insurance sector contributes more to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product(GDP).

Also, Chief Executive Officer, Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria, Oguche Agudah, said that “the theme of AI and market penetration is very apt as to where we are as a country. For where we are as a nation, AI affects everyone generally whether we know it or not. So the challenge for us is how do we use this tool for insurance and pension penetration? How do we use it in everyday life?”

He said AI helps in enhancing efficiency and increases productivity.

“Recently I had a zoom meeting with my team and after the meeting I told members of my team that I want all the minutes of the meeting to be ready at least within 24 hours.

“Immediately after the meeting, they brought the minutes and when I asked what was the secret, they told me that there is an app on AI that they used.
He said AI can help in investment decisions, adding that as there are good sides of AI, there are also bad sides that must be taken care of.
Earlier in her Welcome Address, the managing editor, BusinessToday Communication Limited, Mrs. Nkechi Naeche-Esezobor, noted that the theme of this year’s Conference, ‘The World Of AI: How Insurance And Pension Sectors Can Explore Opportunities For Market Penetration,’ provided opportunities to deliberate and fashioned out strategies that both the insurance and pension sectors can deploy to enhance  consumer value and  service delivery, as well as  further deepen market penetration.

Stating that Nigeria’s insurance industry hit N1 trillion premium income target last year, which is a milestone, adding that this feat is expected to rise faster with the right technology, including AI.

“AI is transforming insurance industry, especially in underwriting, customer support, advertising, claims, and fraud prevention,” she said.

In pension industry, she said just by simply automating various aspects of pension management from data analysis to investment decision-making, AI minimises the need for extensive human intervention, saying, these savings can then be passed on to pension holders thereby enhancing their overall returns.

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