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Chuks Udo Okonta
The Federal Government has called on insurance industry operators to develop new innovative products based on data and customer preferences in order to create real value for the insuring public.
The Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and Planning, Mrs (Dr.) Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, said this today at the official Commissioning of National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) Portal in Abuja.
She noted that the NAICOM Portal must serve as the central database and sole repository of all Insurance data connected to government databases in the country.
She posited that the current insurance penetration, a measure of the contribution of insurance to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 0.88 for 2021 is very low, stressing that this indicates a low Insurance sector development contribution to the National Economy.
However, this also shows that there are abounding opportunities for growth in the market, she submitted.
“There is a need therefore, to develop new innovative products based on data and customer preferences and introduction of new channels of distribution beyond the traditional channels to reach new segments of the market.
“There is also a need for cooperation with other agencies of government to enforce compulsory insurances in the country,” she said.
The Minister maintained that stakeholders in the industry must consciously and intentionally spread the reach of insurance from the major cities and few states to other regions of the country especially the rural areas, adding that low penetration in the retail end of the market must also be addressed through vigorous drive of inclusive Insurance like micro insurance and takaful.
“In addition, deliberate attention must be given to the low insurance literacy and education in the country. Strategies must be put in place for insurance education, awareness and enlightenment,” she said.
She submitted that massive sensitization must be done on both traditional and new media on the benefits of Insurance. “I want to advice that insurance education should be introduced in the education curriculum from Primary to Tertiary Schools,” she stated.
Mrs. Ahmed said the unsatisfactory response to settlement of claims by underwriters had greatly contributed to the prevailing poor public perception and lack of trust and confidence in the insurance Industry, stressing that indeed, prompt claims payment is the best advertisement for the industry, therefore all genuine claims that have been duly verified and due process followed, should be paid promptly.
She maintained that NAICOM must put in place mechanisms to ensure insurance companies meet their obligations to policyholders by paying claims promptly as that is the major reason they exist in the first place, adding that claims payment determines the valuable structure of the industry in the economy.
Commissioner for Insurance, Sunday Thomas, said the NAICOM Portal is one of the initiatives of the Commission being pursued to deepen the insurance market and increase the penetration to the level that is consistent with the nations economy.
“As some of us may be aware, the Commission in July 2009, embarked on a comprehensive computerization effort tagged project e-regulation that was meant to transform its operational procedures and the conduct of its regulatory responsibilities by providing a robust, world class ICT Infrastructure to help implement an automated business processes internally and for industry wide supervision via an integrated platform,” he said.
Thomas noted that prior to the development of the portal, the processing of applications required that applicants physically drop off their applications at the Commission with the attendant challenges of delays in processing times, wasted manpower hours due to back-and-forth in application processing as well as ineffective application tracking system.