Dearth of fresh agents hits insurance, as firms resort to poaching


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Chuks Udo Okonta

Getting a fresh agent presently to join an agency team is as difficult as a camel passing through the eye of a needle, this was how a chieftain in the insurance agency network described the inability of insurers to attract young people as underwriting agents.

The chieftain told Inspenonline that aside the challenge of hiring agents, 15 per cent of trained agents have left insurance sector for real estate and other businesses.

He said most insurance firms have resorted to poaching of agents from their competitors to remain afloat, adding that presently, an insurance agent can move around four underwriting firms in a space of two years, a development he considered not too good for insurance business.

“I can count close to 27 Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) in real estate that are from insurance agency network.

“Many agents are migrating. They are not just going, but migrating. Just the way you see ‘Japa’, they are ‘japaing’ from insurance industry to other sectors and bigger players are not showing much concern.

“Agents are now ambitious and looking for greener pastures outside.

“I can count seven of my boys that are now chief executive officers in real estate,” he said.

On why the agents are leaving the insurance industry, he said the industry major players are not paying adequate attention to agency network as a critical unit in the insurance value chain.

He submitted that agents are faced with unresolved challenges such as, acquiring and renewing their licences; poor remuneration; lack of recognition amongst others.

On way forward, he suggested an industry round table discussion and enactment of policy of inclusiveness.

He said licensing should never be a challenge for agents, adding that Association of Registered Insurance Agents (ARIAN) had had a discussion with National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) on the need to review the agency network.

“We don’t want to continue to be captive agents, we need classes of agencies such as captive; independent and corporate,” he submitted.

The chieftain commended individual companies for what they are doing to keep their agents, but suggested that the present challenge in the agency network should be handled as an industry concern and not be left to individual companies to manage.

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