KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY THE COMMISSIONER FOR INSURANCE, NIGERIA AND CHIEF EVECUTIVE OFFICER, NATIONAL INSURANCE COMMISSION (NAICOM) AT THE 2022 EDITION OF THE CHARTERED INSURANCE INSTITUTE OF NIGERIA’S PROFESSIONAL FORUM, HELD AT PARK INN BY RADISSON, ABEOKUTA, OGUN STATE ON THURSDAY 15TH SEPTEMBER, 2022.
I am pleased to be in your midst this morning at this occasion for yet another edition of the Annual Insurance Professionals’ Forum being organized by the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN).
While I seize this opportunity to congratulate the new leadership of the Institute under Mr. Edwin Igbiti as president/Chairman in council, I must commend the Immediate Past president Sir Muftau Oyegunle and the team that worked with him for their efforts at ensuring the Institute’s drive towards the fulfillment of its mandate. We acknowledge and appreciate your modest achievements and wish you well in your various endeavors.
The choice of theme for this year’s edition “Power of the Past: A Force for the Future of the Insurance Sector in Nigeria”, is apt and relevant to the current efforts to enhance the performance of the insurance industry and diversify its productive base. The Commission is always proud to be identified with the various initiatives espoused at this annual forum because of its conviction that viable, qualitative, ethical, resilient insurance professionals hold the key to the sustainability and growth of the Nigerian Insurance Industry.
The founding fathers of the CIIN did lay a solid foundation with the big dreams of berthing a world class educational Institute designed to fill the void that existed then for the baking of thorough-bred insurance professionals. It is charged with the general duty of determining the standards of knowledge and skills to be attained by persons seeking to become registered members of the insurance profession in Nigeria. Thus, the burden to ensure standards, professional ethics and discipline lies with the institute. We may want to ask ourselves in our quiet moments if these lofty dreams of the founding fathers which I can say was once achieved is being sustained.
The past 60 years of the CIIN have been eventful no doubt; the Institute has grown its membership base and achieved immensely in various aspects of insurance education development in the country, public awareness, project “catch-them-young” and others. We must look back and assess our achievement in the past years from professional education to ethical behavior of our members. Taking a peep into the past from where we are coming, a lot could be said to have been achieved but, in another breath, we must acknowledge the fact so much is still needed to be done.
However, the Commission do believe that the Institute nay the insurance sector in Nigeria will continue to get better if only all stakeholders continue to collaborate and cooperate as professionals. The long-standing issues on ethical behavior in the industry can be said to have significantly improved over time. Young professionals that are eager to join the noble insurance profession must be bequeathed a good legacy to emulate. The integrity of insurance business depends solely on the level of integrity we display as professionals in the business. The image and future of insurance business in Nigeria depends majorly on how we uphold and encourage members to adhere strictly to the observance of the industry’s codes of conduct and ethics.
In terms of educational development, I want to believe that the institute is looking into domesticating some of the borrowed syllabus to reflect realities in our local operations and practice without compromising the international nature of insurance business.
Since the advent of COVID19 pandemic, the way and manner in which businesses are conducted have significantly changed; with the major focus now on use of technology to ease activities. The Commission have also been working to boost access to insurance through effective deployment of technology. The Commission’s portal has been launched and effectively deployed.
Innovation will be the key to sustenance of the industry and make insurance services seamless by leveraging technology which drives applications like Insurtech, FinTech, blockchain, data analytics, IoTs, etc.
We must all work together to explore all possible means to take insurance to a new level that will enhance our contribution to the nation’s economy.
With respect to the efforts of the Commission in the area of regulation and supervision of the market, the Commission embarked on innovative regulations, policies, guidelines and programs aimed at restructuring for the future of the Nigerian Insurance Industry. The first phase (Module I) of the Commission’s migration from analogue to the digitalising of its core processes (execution of Project e-regulation) has been completed. At this juncture, I am pleased to bring to your notice that the NAICOM portal has been officially commissioned by the Honourable Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning. In addition the Module II (Insurance Regulatory Returns and Analysis System), a web-based software solution for submission, collation and analysis of returns has passed user acceptance test and ready to be deployed.
The effectiveness of the Commission’s support departments is also being enhanced with the deployment of the Enterprise Resource Planning application
in February 2022, the Commission issued the “Insurance Web Aggregators Operational Guidelines” which serves as a working document to register, supervise and monitor web aggregators as Intermediaries who provide information on products of different Insurers.
Ladies and gentlemen, in order to promote Financial Inclusion and access to insurance in Nigeria, the Commission launched the BimaLab Nigeria project in partnership with Financial Sector Deepening Africa (FSD Africa) which is aimed at coaching and mentoring Insurtech firms, granting funds in developing innovative business solutions focused on solving compelling economic or social problems as well as bringing commercial value to the insurance industry.
In March 2022, the Commission launched the R3Lab Platform which will assist regulators and supervisors in Africa to work together to strengthen their methodologies and develop solutions necessary to create an enabling regulatory environment.
In May 2022, NAICOM and FSD Africa organized the “BimaLab Insurtech Demo-day” which allowed cohort members to pitch their solutions to potential partners, industry stakeholders, and investors to create visibility and opportunity to secure funding for their businesses. A total of 10 start-ups that participated in a ten-week accelerator program were showcased at the Demo-day event. I am pleased to confirm that one of the cohorts in the BimaLab project has obtained requisite regulatory approval to roll out its products in collaboration with an insurance company. Other cohorts who participated in the BimaLab project are working to roll out their innovative products.
In addition, we are implementing a Legal and Regulatory Framework (Regulating for Innovation) designed to develop a framework for sustainable innovation in the Nigerian insurance industry in fulfillment of the Commission’s dual objectives of market development and protection.
Another very pivotal project currently being implemented by the Commission is the Risk-Based Capital (RBC) project which is intended to provide a clear set of policy plan for full implementation of RBC framework including the key steps, frameworks, and tools required for RBC implementation. The project is nearing completion with the conclusion of working sessions on the proposed RBC tools.
It is important to also state that, the Commission’s market development and restructuring initiative which, amongst others, will facilitate enforcement of compulsory insurance is part of efforts to increase insurance penetration, improve access to insurances, and sensitize the polity on the benefits of insurance. Some of the activities implemented thus far include under the initiative are:
o Licensing of additional inclusive insurance providers for the excluded and/or low-income segment of the Nigerian population.
o Awareness creation and learning sessions carried out on Microinsurance and Takaful insurance.
o Engagement and sensitization forum for Federal & State Fire Service Officers, Federal Road Safety Corp, Vehicle Inspection Officers, etc.
o Engagement with the Government of Kano and Katsina State on compulsory insurance.
o Interactive sessions with major stakeholders of the Nigerian Insurance Industry to facilitate better understanding of the concerns, views, and challenges of stakeholders of the industry.
o Implementation of Risk Based Supervision exercise, among many others.
In conclusion, let me say that insurance practice in Nigeria in the past has had its good, bad and ugly moments. One of such bad and ugly moments that have had significant impact on the image and perception of our industry is the issue of claims payment.
Indeed the records and statistics of unpaid claims associated with some of our members has not been too good and must be overturned to the benefit of all stakeholders. I must quickly acknowledge and salute the efforts of those companies that are alert to their responsibility of prompt claims payment and encourage them to sustain the good practice.
Insurance practitioners must be seen to be fighting this cause genuinely and collectively for the future of insurance to be as bright as we expect it. We must not continue to harbour elements of destruction under our roofs. The issue of non-payment of genuine claims has always put the Commission and the entire industry on the defensive when it comes to discussing insurance in every stratum of the economy. I must tell you that the Commission is doing all it could within the ambit of extant laws to see that the non-settlement of genuine claims is eliminated in the sector and I can assure you that we will not relent.
I admonish us all to leverage the positive experiences from the past to build a formidable future for insurance in Nigeria. The effort must be collective and patriotic. We must all see insurance as a profession that should be a buffer for the economy while eliminating the toga of being the weak link within the financial services sector. We must practice insurance with passion and resilient not just as a means of livelihood that we have to survive on but, that which every insurance professional should be proud to say “I am a party to this success.”
I thank you for your attention and I wish you a successful forum.
Thomas, O. Sunday
Commissioner for Insurance/CEO