By Rosemary Onuoha
NIGERIAN insurers have indicated that the insurance industry is under-served with only about 20,000 agents covering the country.
They noted that the number of agents in Nigerian insurance industry is low compared to what obtains in other countries, adding that this shortfall is one of the factors undermining insurance penetration and growth in the country.
Speaking to Vanguard Insurance, Executive Director of Ensure Insurance Plc, Mr. Owolabi Salami, said, “We have about 20,000 agents servicing a buying population of 37 million insurance consumers in Nigeria whereas India has about 1.9 million agents while South Africa has about 400,000 agents. I can tell you for a fact that some individual companies do not have up to 200 agents. This is so because the funds that are meant to be invested in doing all of these things are not being applied to that.”
Speaking in the same vein, Chairman of Nigerian Insurers Association, NIA, Mr. Eddie Efekoha said that in Hong Kong, there are over 25,000 agents servicing a total population of just 17 million people which has led to insurance contributing over 90 percent to the Gross Domestic Product, GDP, of Hong Kong.
Efekoha said, “In Hong Kong, insurance contributes substantially to the GDP of the country. Over there they have over 25,000 insurance agents which greatly enhanced insurance penetration in that country. These are things that we should begin to implement in Nigeria.”
On why the Nigerian market has limited agents, Salami said, “For too long in the industry, everybody focused on corporate business. It was cheaper to run corporate insurance and just be getting business from the public sector. But now, we see that we need to go way beyond that, so several of us are making the required investment in distribution of insurance.
“We need to deliver value and good service to customers because they can also become our ambassador in getting other people to come and buy insurance because things are changing. The insurance industry of today, regarding claims is not the insurance industry of five years ago.”