By Cynthia Alo
Activities in the insurance industry in 2019 maintained a slow pace occasioned mostly by the non renewal of public sector insurance for the third consecutive year.
Consequently, patronage by some government parastatals was stalled due to non-release of funds.
However the industry saw growth in 2019 as firms strengthened their retail offerings while there was increase in premium rate of group life.
One of the major highlights for the year was the suspension of the insurance rebranding campaign project due to unimpressive response of some companies.
Other major activities in 2019 include the extension of the deadline for the recapitalization exercise; fake motor insurance enlightenment campaign etc.
The rebranding campaign
On December 13 2019, the Insurers Committee, which is made up of the National Insurance Commission, NAICOM, as well as all the chief executives of insurance companies announced the suspension of the rebranding campaign project.
Introduced in 2018, with estimated budget of N300 million, the campaign was geared towards increasing insurance awareness and deepening penetration in the country.
The suspension, according to the Committee, became necessary due to failure of some companies who refused to pay up their own part of the contribution thereby hindering the progress of the campaign. The Committee however said that the project will be revisited in the future.
Extension of recapitalization exercise
On May 20 2019, NAICOM announced a recapitalization exercise for insurance and reinsurance companies, with June 30, 2020 deadline for compliance.
This however did not go down well with some of the insurance companies as some of them argued that the economy did not present better opportunity for the industry to strive. Even shareholders were not left out in the agitation and constantly called on the regulator to extend the time frame or cancel it outright.
This prompted NAICOM to extend the deadline to December 2020.
Fake motor insurance enlightenment campaign
On October 2nd, the Nigerian Insurers Association, NIA, commenced a campaign against fake motor insurance in Nigeria tagged ‘wetin U Carry.’
In this regard, the Association said it deployed over 33 cops in the street of Lagos to kick off the exercise.
Speaking on the performance of the sector in 2019, Managing Director, Old Mutual General Insurance Company Nigeria Limited, Mr. Olalekan Oyinlade said that the industry was thrown off balance with the performance of the general economy which insurance is not insulated from.
“The initial apprehension over the non-clarity of the recapitalization process also threw operators off balance,” he stated.
Managing Director, Veritas Kapital Assurance, Mr.Kenneth Egbaran, said that the industry saw growth in 2019 through strengthening of its retail market and the increase in premium rate of group life.
Despite the challenges in 2019, Oyinlade maintained that for the industry to grow, operators must continue to change product offerings to meet the prevailing challenges whilst developing alternative distribution channel largely on digital models which he said is cost effective and efficient.
He said: ”The industry focus should be on developing the less served middle and mass market. These sections of the pyramid need insurance and the challenge are for the practitioners to offer them real solutions that meet their needs.”