Stories by ROSEMARY ONUOHA
The Nigerian insurance industry is entering a new phase in the form of transformation. Accordingly, insurers are imbibing the spirit of paying claims, even as the National Insurance Commission, NAICOM, is becoming more visible in its regulatory roles to ensure that claims are paid promptly.
So as an insurance consumer, if you suffer a loss and you send your claims demand to your insurance company, the company has a minimum of 90 days to settle your claims. However, many insurers have capitalized on this regulation to unnecessarily delay genuine claims. NACOM is therefore out to ensure that genuine claims are not delayed unnecessarily.
With NAICOM’s dispute resolution unit which oversees the customer contact centre, an insurance consumer can access the regulatory body if his insurer is unnecessarily delaying his claims. Also, underwriters are daily persuaded to settle claims within hours because some claims do not require complex investigation.
The insurance sector is regulated by NAICOM and although the regulator admits that issues of non-settlement of claims continue to rear its ugly head now and again, NAICOM has reduced the trend significantly.
Commissioner for Insurance, Mr. Fola Daniel, said that the figure for non settlement of claims went down significantly in 2014 due to efforts of NAICOM’s contact centre in resolving disputes arising from non settlement of claims.
Daniel said that the contact centre is readily available to the public and through it insurance consumers directly phone in when they had issues with their insurers. “The timely intervention of NAICOM led to the drastic reduction in the reoccurring event of non settlement of claims” Daniel stated.
Accordingly, the contact centre has endeared NAICOM to the insuring public because NAICOM succeeded in resolving a lot of controversial claims which were an avenue for argument between the insured and insurer.
Because the federal government wants to focus on insurance as the next growth area for the economy, NAICOM said it is leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that the insurance sector is rid of all negative perception.
Daniel said, “We cannot make a strong economy unless we have a virile insurance sector.”
NAICOM said it is set in building consumer trust and increase public awareness on insurance and it aims to achieve zero tolerance for non settlement of genuine claims because Nigerians truly desire to buy insurance but the persistent negative perception of the sector continues to scare them away.
The Commission therefore said that it intends to consolidate on the gains of the past years and is strategizing on moving the Nigerian insurance sector from third position to number one in Africa.
Daniel further added that the ‘no premium, no cover’ policy is very successful as it is impacting positively on cash position of insurers, adding that insurers therefore have no excuse not to pay claims promptly.
“The ‘no premium, no cover’ is reverberating all over the West African coast as year 2014 was a time to test its efficacy. Francophone countries are copying it as a policy and it is working. So Nigerians should capitalize on the success of the policy to ensure that claims are settled promptly,” Daniel stated.
Recall that NAICOM said low public trust and awareness are still the biggest challenges confronting the insurance industry.
According to him, “The biggest challenge of insurance industry still remains low public trust. If the public do not trust insurance companies, people will not buy insurance. The other challenge is awareness. People are still not aware of insurance”.
Daniel said that the transformation of the sector is helping to build consumers trust and awareness while it has increased access to insurance, urging insurance companies to collectively create the needed awareness and build public trust.