Tuesday, February 27Inside Business Africa

‘How industry can improve insurance product offering’

Diversifying insurance products to meet the needs of Nigerians will help to increase insurance penetration across the country, experts have said.
Besides, helping people to understand that insurance is key to a secured future should be a compelling message to Nigerians, whether average or below average families, while the operators prepare to honour their obligations.

Industry stakeholders blame the failure of the government to enforce the provisions of the Insurance Act, especially the compulsory insurances has frustrated the goal of increasing insurance penetration in Nigeria.

According to them, most Nigerians do not believe in insurance, because the products are not being marketed well, which has become a problem not only to the industry but also impedes economic development.

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Anchor Insurance Company Limited, Ebose Augustine Osegha, who spoke to The Guardian over the weekend, said insurance all over the world remains a risk-mitigating mechanism, and called on Nigerians to see what damages the COVID-19 pandemic has done to businesses, human lives, and economies generally and embrace insurance.

Ebose explained that the impact of COVID-19 has created deeper awareness for insurance adoption, noting that it has made most people, who hitherto regarded insurance as a “shady business” to accept the importance of risk coverage. He expressed optimism that with everyone now knowing the damages, which situations like the pandemic could cause, more people were likely to embrace insurance post-COVID-19.

Ebose, who expressed displeasure over government’s attitude towards insurance and welfare packages for its workers, noted that some state governments have no health insurance, public liability, group personal accident or even group life policy for their staff, and called on them to learn from the experience from COVID-19 to provide the necessary covers for their workforce.

He also called on governments at all levels to brace up for the future challenges, adding that “even the business community is not left out. Before now, most business concerns looked away from taking business interruption covers for their operations.

“Also, most employees would not see the need to pick the loss of employment insurance covers because there will be job losses after the pandemic. Whatever effects they must be feeling now would have been mitigated if they had picked policies of the types I have mentioned here.”

On claims, Ebose said the sector has been up to the task despite experiencing a high ratio, given its adequate and necessary reinsurance plans and insurance reserves.

On measures put in place to cushion the effects of the pandemic on insurance operations, he charged operators to cut down on some expenditure and channel their resources to those things that are necessary now.

“Now Information Technology (IT) is taking more money because when you are cutting from one side, you use it to support the other side.“Before now, face masks and hand sanitizers were not in the budget but now we have to add them. The need for social distancing has, for instance, made reputable insurance companies to buy more cars for staff to avoid being caught up with the issues associated with using public transport, to ensure they remain healthy and productive.”

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, NSIA Insurance, Ebelechukwu Nwachukwu, speaking on the challenges of insurance penetration and adoption, told The Guardian that there is a need to identify information and communication technology as the driver of the growth process.

According to her, despite the slow adoption, there is no doubt at all that penetration will increase and the premium will rise also, noting that the industry today is paying better salaries and people are better.

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