By Patience Saghana
The axe of the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) is swinging on any insurance company that will dare to default on genuine claims payment as the regulatory body is ready to revoke operating license of any underwriter over failure to settle claims.
The Commissioner of Insurance, Mr. Fola Daniel made this known at the flagging off of compulsory insurance in Sokoto State recently.
Daniel noted that the commission would no longer treat repudiation of claims by any insurance company mildly.
He recalled that the image of the industry suffered bad image as a result of non_settlement of claims by few operators in the past, adding that the sector did not wish to through the pains of the past more so now that insurance operators had renounced that practice.
Insurance industry, the NAICOM boss swanked, has in the last few years witnessed significant progress in the area of claim settlement which underwriting firms have imbibed like a culture.
According to him, â€œThe Commission is confronting this frontally and I am pleased to state that the issue of non_payment of claims by insurance companies is now becoming a thing of the pastâ€.
He said â€œWe are ready to cancel certificate of any insurance company that failed to pay claims and on time. We insist that cheques must be given within the period of 90 daysâ€.
He recalled, â€œNAICOM has had cause to sanctionÂ some firmsÂ found engaging in unethical behavior in recent pastÂ to serve as deterrent to others and would not hesitate to do that again should the need beâ€.
Daniel said that the commission would always protect the consumer from falling prey to unscrupulous operators. He called on stakeholder to join the Commission in its effort to ensure that insurance industry played its vital role in the development of the nationâ€™s economy.
He also said that if the scheme was well implemented, could create about 250,000 jobs in two years to curb unemployment in the country. â€œWe have about 52 insurance companies and the mandate given to them is that they must recruit a minimum of 5,000 agents.
â€œSome of them have the capacity to recruit 10,000 agents or more. We are given minimum of two years and many of them have recruited nearly half of that which means the 5,000 figure is not ambitious.
He said the Insurance companies since January 2009 had started recruiting graduates and giving them adequate training to educate the masses on issues of insurance.
He stated that the employment strategy was an avenue for the industry to contribute to the growth and development of the economy.
Alhaji Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, Sokoto State Governor at the occasion said that any campaign calling on Nigerians to embrace the insurance culture must go beyond mere rhetorics.
â€œI have always believed that the Nigerian environment and its people deserve more than they presently get in terms of protection of lives and properties through insuranceâ€.
He however, said that the campaign for all and sundry to embrace insurance must go beyond mere rhetoric, the facts and experience on ground makes it more compulsiveâ€™â€™.
The entire northern part of the country, he further said, was a huge market for the industry. â€œThe six insurance products you are introducing here today are very relevant to our people. Our environment is exposed to a number of hazards both natural and man inducedâ€.
The governor, who was represented by the state Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Alhaji Muâ€™Azu Lamido, noted that insurance was a vital component of the economy.
He said, â€œWe are living witnesses to the suffering of some of our people due to destruction to their buildings and farms occasioned by strong windâ€™â€™.
He added that the state on daily basis witnessed heavy influx of vehicles from neighboring countries, thereby causing accidents that resulted to injuries and death.
He also said that the state was faced with health challenges which could be addressed through insurance. â€œI am happy that with your initiative, the future of our widows and orphans shall no longer remain bleakâ€.
â€œThe patient who goes to the hospitals to get cure but end up coming back in worse situations shall no longer be confined to a life of perpetual sadnessâ€.
â€œI am not in doubt that the opportunity provided by the Market Development and Restructuring Initiative will be well utilised to achieve the desired purpose and enhance the status of the insurance sector as a driver to the nationâ€™s economy,â€â€™ he said.