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No other company can pay N2.7bn claims and survive , Jegede

Mr Emmanuel Jegede, Managing Director of Nicon Insurance Plc in this Exclusive interview with Patience Saghana for the first time opens up on the repositioning and rebranding of Nicon. Jegede says the new Nicon of is unstoppable. He also explains the reason why Nicon missed out in the 2010 federal
Excerpt

Has Nicon been able to overcome some of the challenges it faced with after privatisation?
It is true that NICON had some problems after the privatisation and there was intervention from the government which l can say that we have overcome those challenges. Today, NICON is back and we are better than we were. We are doing what is expected and we are gladdening the hearts of our insureds. The rate at which we pay claims is unbelievable. Within the last one year alone, we have paid N2.7 billion in claims. The rate at which we attend to complaints or brokers’ commission is excellent and I sincerely believe that within a very short period, NICON will be the loving party of all the stakeholders in the industry.

NICON’s major accounts went with its privatization. How many of those accounts have the company captured back?
Well, it is true that many of the government accounts went with privatization, but I can assure you that we have recovered many of them. There are many accounts which people believe that once you are not here you are not on government account: if you are not here you are not government account no, there are some other ones: silent ones which we have recovered and we have even recovered one recently which somebody else is also contesting with us that we should not take it but since it belongs to us in the first instance, we are back on them and many more are still coming. We are working on them and before the end of this year, l am certain that all of them will come back to NICON.

Why is NICON not on the 2010 government Group life?
NICON was not shortlisted over tax clearance because when NICON was still under government, it was not paying tax yet the tax authorities kept accumulating the figures on against the company during those years as Government Corporation. So, when we came into NICON, we met about N400million.

That not the only liability we met on ground. Is not some amount that could be paid overnight but as at the time of the bidding process of the group life, we had paid N120million and we packed all the receipts to that respect for the bidding but the head of Service in his own wisdom thought that was not current. We explained and tried to the head of service understand that the N400million was a liability we inherited and what we have been able to do within the last one year. In spite of that, the head of service his choice But today, I can tell you that we have paid to the last kobo everything NICON owed.

What is your overview of the insurance industry?
Insurance industry, insurance is a sub-sector of the economy and whatever happens in the economy directly affects the insurance.  In many advanced countries, the direction of the insurance dictates the size of the economy or the direction of the economy. The two necessarily must go together. The financial crisis all over the world has affected all the sectors of the economy. Nigeria is not insulated, insurance industry is not insulated so whatever affects the economy in Nigeria affects the industry. As at today, especially those that are listed at the stock exchange definitely their stocks have watered down and those of us that invested heavily in stock we are also affected. Everybody one way or the other is also affected but good enough that the industry is still marching forward.

What are the opportunities for NICON in the present day insurance market?
The opportunities for NICON is so bright, NICON has repositioned within the last two years to the extent that we have fortified our branches. The money in insurance we all know that is in the grass root. It is the cost of the cost involved and the logistics that make some insurance companies not to go on full scale. However, because of our size and resources (human and capital) we have positioned ourselves to the extent that we are very close to the grass roots. As at today we have 60 branches, within the 60 branches, we have six regional offices coordinating based on these political geo-political zones.

Each of those regional offices is manned by regional general managers and with enormous authorities to deal with issues arising from their territories. It’s only very few cases that will come to the head office. If you notice now, head office is very light unlike what it used to be where all the activities were centered at the head office. We have delegated authority to the branches especially the regional offices. So not many things except things that are above their authority level that come to the head office, and we still want to delegate more authority to these regional offices so that they would be able to respond as quickly as possible. With this network and the capital resources available to us, NICON will take over the market. We will take over the market.

You were talking about NICON’s total rebranding, does it include insurance brokers commissions and claims that NICON owes?

It is easier to destroy than to build, that is exactly what has happened. When anybody tells you that NICON is not doing this, it’s not true. National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) was at NICON for inspection. NAICOM did not believe what they saw in NICON the inspectors didn’t believe it when we reeled out all the statistics, they could not believe that NICON is still as strong as it was. So, the branding is all-encompassing, but your rebranding must be in phases for many reasons, logistics, and for you to have the proper impact you start rebranding in house.

The organizing structure we met on ground favoured the civil service structure that was when I started. We have done that, the organizing structure, the organogram is perfected. NICON came here, they saw it, and they confirmed it that this one is good and sufficient to run any insurance company. The vision and the mission statement we met on ground can never work in a private sector. We changed that, our mission, our vision now reflects the private sector drive and every member of staff were carried along.

It was from bottom up, not the usual way where somebody will sit at the top and dish out instructions. If you call any member of staff and ask them what your vision as an organization is, they will tell you, to be a global player in insurance and financial services. Ask the person what is our mission statement?

Every staff including drivers in this place, they will tell you that in NICON, our mission is to provide superlative, qualitative insurance and financial services that will supersede the expectation of our insured for the benefit of everybody. Unlike what Nicon used to be in the past, the emphasis then was on profit and if the emphasis is on profit , in the long run, the money will not come but when it is centered on the interest of everybody, every stakeholder will know that Yes, they will take care of him if anything happens. Nicon today is positioned to the extent that everybody is taken care of including our staff.

When you see Nicon staff the way they dressed in those days, you will see complaints and hunger in them but today’s Nicon staff are corporately dressed and neat. Staff one can be proud of.

Has NICON completely shaken off that government attitude to work?
I would say yes and that has been the essence of my being here within the last two years. It took time, orientation, culture to shake off the olds attitude.

It took time and when we came in, that was the first task we accomplished though there were opposition but today, everybody is happy for. But as at today, everybody, even the staff can now see the reason why we behaved the way we did when we came in and why we did certain things the way we did them that it was for the benefit of every one of us especially the staff.

How would you rank NICON of today in the insurance industry?
Yes, ranking NICON in the insurance industry today depends on the parameter you want to use. If you are looking at size, there is no doubt we have the size, we have the capital, we have the resources, we have everything. And if it’s in terms of claims settlement that you want to assess our raking, then, l will tell you that no one does it better than Nicon. No other company in the insurance industry does it better.

To pay N 2.7 billion claims within one year?  I am not too sure there will be any other insurance company in Nigeria today that can do that. And we don’t intend to stop, we will continue. If we continue this way, the future is glorious, NICON is unstoppable, NICON has come to stay, and NICON has come take its prime position. That is exactly what we are out for and until we achieve that we will not rest on our oars.


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