REMARKS BY THE COMMISSIONER FOR INSURANCE, Mr. O. S. THOMAS AT THE 2020 INSURANCE DIRECTORS’ CONFERENCE HELD AT ORIENTAL HOTEL, VICTORIA ISLAND, LAGOS STATE ON NOVEMBER 24, 2020.
It gives me great pleasure to be here once again. The insurance Directors’ Conference is one of the avenues for all our Directors to come together to interact and discuss strategic governance issues relating to our beloved industry and business. I warmly welcome you all to this year’s Conference which is coming at a crucial and unique time that the world over is battling with the pandemic of Corona Virus commonly called COVID19 and its associated consequences. The theme for this year’s Conference “Insurance Industry Post Pandemic: The Pursuit for Survival and Growth” was carefully crafted to ensure that governing structure of insurance institutions take into cognisance the effect of the pandemic in making policies and strategies that will encourage survival and growth of the institutions post pandemic.
The year 2020 has been a challenging one for all businesses including insurance, it has also provided opportunity to break into new areas of cover and service delivery in the insurance sector. Thus, a paradigm shift from the usual way of governance and doing business in our institutions has become inevitable. This shift has to start from the Boardrooms; the policy directions you will give will go a long way in ensuring sustainability and development of your various institutions.
The present challenges brought about by the pandemic in the economy in general and our industry in particular are enormous. Critical measures are therefore required of us that sit on top of the pyramid. It must be emphasised that the insurance sector require more urgent recovery post COVID – 19 to support the recovery and restoration of other businesses. The times in which we are require more prudent management of resources in order to meet all stakeholders expectations including ensuring quality return on investments. Our focus must shift to service delivery which will make our companies to seek more reasons to settle client’s claims and less less reasons for repudiation of claims.
The era of huge backlog of claims should no longer be associated with our companies and while the Commission is profiling companies with huge unsettled claims for necessary regulatory action, companies that are responsive to the plight of their clients in prompt settlement of claims are encouraged to sustain the good business conduct.
Operators in the industry must strengthen their human and financial capital for effective participation in big ticket risks. It has been observed that the gains of domestication policy of the government as enshrine in the Nigeria Content Development Act 2010 is gradually loosing its meaning for the insurance sector. More businesses especially in the oil and gas and the Aviation sectors are now been re insured abroad. Of more concern is the declining participation of life companies in the annuity business which is the emerging business for our industry. These are the areas where the industry can impose itself on the economy through the control of funds for national development.
The Industry must invest handsomely in technology, one of our key drivers for developing the market. The Institutions should be prepared to digitalise their processes, procedures and systems in order to make their operations seamless and real time. The Commission is investing heavily in automating its processes and expects nothing less from the insurance institutions. An industry Information Technology Guideline has been issued for the operators and the Commission requires your support and cooperation for effective compliance.
The need to invest massively in awareness campaign about insurance cannot be over emphasis as there seem to be a consensus that public perception of insurance still remains very low largely due to lack of awareness by the public.
Another lingering issue that has continued to hurt insurance business in the country is the total lack of understanding of the business of insurance and the benefits that are offered. The strategy must change, insurance institutions must make themselves visible in all geo – political zones in the country and must take marketing of insurance products to a higher level than the present.
The recent crises associated with #EndSARS protest which lead to the destruction of lives and properties is indeed an eye opener and an opportunity for companies to engage in massive awareness programs on relevant insurance cover for lives and properties of individuals and all businesses. Innovation in our industry will differentiate companies in terms of meeting stakeholders expectation.
As you may be aware, the Commission on its part has shifted its focus to market development for an inclusive development of insurance across all strata. These initiatives are anchored on Innovation, Distribution and Efficient Service Delivery. We expect that insurance institutions will also formulate policies along these direction. The Commission is committing huge resources for manpower development in the insurance sector in collaboration with relevant partners in order to bridge the gap currently existing in our system. Your support and cooperation is required in this regard for your institutions to benefit from this giant stride. The programme includes the development of professional underwriters, Certified Actuarial Analysts and qualified Actuaries. The development of these professionals will no doubt define the growth trajectory of the business of insurance in Nigeria.
In concluding my remarks on behalf of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, I want to thank all our companies through members of the Board of Directors for the industry’s Financial support to the Federal Government in curtailing the spread of COVID – 19.
Again I will like to thank our shareholders as represented by members of the board of directors for believing in the capabilities of the insurance industry, we will do all that we can to ensure you have value for your investments.
Ladies and gentlemen, the future of insurance in Nigeria is very bright and the potentials are enormous, we only need to fill the gaps.
I thank you all for listening and wish you a successful Conference.
O. S. Thomas
Commissioner for Insurance