Against the backdrop of the apartheid associated with insurance over the years, a new age of insurance industry is just about to begin as a good number of middle class people now keenly desire to properly protect their most important assets at a reasonable cost
Dr Pat Utomi says insurance industry should not give up hope on insurance breakthrough among all the strata of classes in the country because insurance industry he said just began to experience boom.
Nevertheless, Dr Utomi advised insurance companies not to scare the desires of the classes especially the middle and lower classes with high premium.
According to him, “The age of insurance is about to begin. “A combination of rising insurance premiums and falling wages has hit middle_income people especially hard, causing them to lose insurance coverage faster than workers both poorer and richer than they are. Over the 10_year period between 1999 and 2008, more than two million people with incomes from 200 to 399 percent of poverty level for a family of four, became uninsured. Thus increase the number of uninsured rate of 39.2 percent of the Nigeria population.”
According to Dr Utomi in his paper Insurance Industry in the face of current financial crisis, the country in the period of crisis became insulated by the various reforms and caught by the stock market globalisation which forced the nation to learn from the sharp losses from the capital market.
Insurance at this point in time, is the breathing space for the Nigerian citizenry to protect their assets, adding that insurance companies cannot but offer a new paradigm which would further enhance the rise of insurance culture in this country.
Dr Justus Uranta, Managing director of Niger Insurance Plc amplified Utomi forecast but added that insurance brokers have a role to play in the new age of insurance industry.
Uranta in a paper in delivered at the NCRIB conference in Abuja titled, ‘Clients Management And Profitability _ Insurance Brokers Perspective’ said that every broker must continuously seek clients to offer their professional skills. This may involve having to change the orientation and perception of some people about insurance.
It could also involve seeking more collaborative actions with insurance companies to evolve customized insurance products for specific categories of clients as opposed to generic policies.Therefore, the designing of customised insurance products ensure that the specific insurance needs of clients are met.
It must be noted though that the position of the insurance broker is a precarious one. They have to balance the interests of two groups of clients i.e. the insured and the insurer.
The Niger Insurance boss affirmed that insurance broking is a sound profession which demands a certain level of professionalism. Therefore, whenever demanded, excellent professional skills must be displayed. This must involve a good knowledge of insurance and risk management skills.
He conceded, “There is no way a client would retain your services if the quality of such is below expectation. Therefore, any insurance broker seeking profitability in clients’ management should ensure that the skills on offer are of excellent quality. Insurance broking is not just about earning the commission in any transaction but building a strong name and strong business that would survive for a long time to come”
“Part of the services required would be the ability to make insurance products available to clients in a way that is clear and easy to understand. It also involves meeting customers’ preferences and solving insurance or risk problems while working with insurance companies to develop customised insurance products”.
Uranta said, “There would always be a ripple effect for a highly professional broker because he gets recommended to more clients by its existing but satisfied ones.
By also engaging in customised insurance products to suit specific needs of clients, a broker would be able to carve out a niche for itself in a very healthy competitive situation. I therefore implore all brokers to adopt good professional and personal ethics in their practises to ensure steady growth of the broking sub_sector and insurance practice generally”.