By Bassey Udo
Close collaboration and cooperation among professionals will enhance insurance sector growth, the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) has said.
The Commissioner for Insurance/CEO, Thomas Sunday, said this at the 2022 Annual Insurance Professionals’ Forum organized by the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN) in Abeokuta.
The theme of the Forum was “Power of the Past: A Force for the Future of the Insurance Sector in Nigeria.”
Describing the theme as apt and relevant, as it would enhance the performance of the insurance industry and diversify its productive base, the NAICOM boss acknowledged the achievements of the President/Chairman in council, Edwin Igbiti.
The Commission, he said, was always proud to be identified with the various initiatives espoused at the annual forum, saying he was convinced in a viable, qualitative, ethical and resilient insurance, professionals hold the key to the sustainability and growth of the Nigerian Insurance Industry.
He commended the founding fathers of the CIIN for laying a solid foundation with the big dreams of berthing a world class educational Institute designed to fill the void that existed then for the baking of thorough-bred insurance professionals.
The CIIN is charged with the duty of determining the standards of knowledge and skills to be attained by persons seeking to become registered members of the insurance profession in Nigeria.
The institute also has the burden to ensure standards, professional ethics and discipline of members.
Canvassing the need for the high standards set by the founding fathers to be sustained, Sunday recalled that in the past 60 years of the CIIN, its membership base grew, apart from achievements in various aspects of insurance education development in the country, public awareness, project “catch-them-young” and others.
“We must look back and assess our achievements in the past years, from professional education to ethical behavior of our members. Taking a peep into the past from where we are coming, a lot could be said to have been achieved but in another breath, we must acknowledge the fact that so much still needs to be done,” he said,
He said the long-standing issues on ethical behaviour in the industry could significantly be improved upon over time, but adding that young professionals that are eager to join the insurance profession must be bequeathed a good legacy to emulate.
“The integrity of insurance business depends solely on the level of integrity we display as professionals in the business. The image and future of insurance business in Nigeria depends majorly on how we uphold and encourage members to adhere strictly to the observance of the industry’s codes of conduct and ethics,” he said.
In terms of educational development, he said he believed that the institute was looking into domesticating some of the borrowed syllabus to reflect realities in our local operations and practice without compromising the international nature of insurance business.
Since the advent of COVID19 pandemic, he said the way businesses are conducted have significantly changed, with the major focus now on use of technology to ease activities.
He said NAICOM has also been working to boost access to insurance through effective deployment of technology, with the launch and deployment of the insurance portal by the Commission.
Underscoring the importance of innovation, he said this would continue to be the key to sustenance of the industry and make insurance services seamless by leveraging technology which drives applications like Insurtech, FinTech, blockchain, and data analytics.
He urged practitioners to all work together to explore all possible means to take insurance to a new level, to enhance their contribution to the nation’s economy.
With respect to the efforts of the Commission in the area of regulation and supervision of the market, he said the Commission embarked on innovative regulations, policies, guidelines and programmes aimed at restructuring for the future of the Nigerian Insurance Industry.
The first phase (Module I) of the Commission’s migration from analogue to the digitalising of its core processes (execution of Project e-regulation), he said, has been completed.
In addition, he said the Module II (Insurance Regulatory Returns and Analysis System), a web-based software solution for submission, collation and analysis of returns, has already passed user acceptance test, ready to be deployed.
The effectiveness of the Commission’s support departments, Sunday said was also being enhanced with the deployment of the Enterprise Resource Planning application
in February 2022, apart from the issuance of the “Insurance Web Aggregators Operational Guidelines”.
The guidelines, he explained, would serve as a working document to register, supervise and monitor web aggregators as Intermediaries who provide information on products of different Insurers.
To promote Financial Inclusion and access to insurance in Nigeria, he said the Commission launched the BimaLab Nigeria project in partnership with Financial Sector Deepening Africa (FSD Africa) aimed at coaching and mentoring Insurtech firms, granting funds in developing innovative business solutions focused on solving compelling economic or social problems as well as bringing commercial value to the insurance industry.
In March 2022, the NAICOM boss said the R3Lab Platform was launched, to assist regulators and supervisors in Africa to work together to strengthen their methodologies and develop solutions necessary to create an enabling regulatory environment.
Again, in May 2022, he said NAICOM and FSD Africa organized the “BimaLab Insurtech Demo-day” which allowed cohort members to pitch their solutions to potential partners, industry stakeholders, and investors to create visibility and opportunity to secure funding for their businesses.
So far, he said a total of 10 start-ups that participated in a ten-week accelerator programme were showcased at the Demo-day event, with one of the cohorts in the BimaLab project obtaining requisite regulatory approval to roll out its products in collaboration with an insurance company.
Other cohorts who participated in the BimaLab project are working to roll out their innovative products.
“We are implementing a Legal and Regulatory Framework (Regulating for Innovation) designed to develop a framework for sustainable innovation in the Nigerian insurance industry in fulfillment of the Commission’s dual objectives of market development and protection.
“Another very pivotal project currently being implemented by the Commission is the Risk-Based Capital (RBC) project which is intended to provide a clear set of policy plan for full implementation of RBC framework, including the key steps, frameworks, and tools required for RBC implementation. The project is nearing completion with the conclusion of working sessions on the proposed RBC tools,” he announced.
On the Commission’s market development and restructuring initiative, to amongst others, facilitate enforcement of compulsory insurance, he said this was part of efforts to increase insurance penetration, improve access to insurances, and sensitize the polity on the benefits of insurance.
Some of the activities implemented by NAICOM so far under the initiative include
Licensing of additional inclusive insurance providers for the excluded and/or low-income segment of the Nigerian population and awareness creation and learning sessions carried out on Microinsurance and Takaful insurance.
The other activities include engagement and sensitization forum for Federal & State Fire Service Officers, Federal Road Safety Corp, Vehicle Inspection Officers, etc.; engagement with the Kano and Katsina State governments on compulsory insurance; interactive sessions with major stakeholders of the Nigerian Insurance Industry to facilitate better understanding of the concerns, views, and challenges of stakeholders of the industry and implementation of Risk Based Supervision exercise.
“Insurance practitioners must be seen to be fighting the issue of unpaid claims for the future of insurance to be as bright as we expect it. We must not continue to harbour elements of destruction under our roofs. The issue of non-payment of genuine claims has always put the Commission and the entire industry on the defensive when it comes to discussing insurance in every stratum of the economy, ” he noted.
On its part, he said the Commission was doing all within the limits of extant laws to ensure the menace of non-settlement of genuine claims was eliminated in the sector.