Chairman of NIA, Mr. Olusola Ladipo-Ajayi
By Nnamdi Duru
NICON Insurance Plc, one of the composite insurance groups has been suspended for three months from the Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA), the umbrella body for insurance companies in the country.
The company was sanctioned for its failure to appear before the Customers’ Complaint Bureau (CCB) set up by association to answer to charges made against it by some of its aggrieved customers.
The Chairman of NIA, Mr. Olusola Ladipo-Ajayi made this known while addressing newsmen in Lagos, adding that the decision was reached during the last governing council meeting of the association. He said that this has been communicated to the management of NICON Insurance.
According to him, the company incurred the wrath of the association for failing to appear before the group’s Customers Complaint Bureau (CCB) to respond to allegations brought against it by some of its customers.
Ladipo-Ajayi recalled that the association established the bureau to serve as a platform for intervention in cases of dispute leading to delay or non settlement of claims.
He also explained that the period or NICON suspension from NIA would serve as a grace period for the company to change its mind and appear before the committee, saying that it remains free to withdraw its membership of the association if it thinks otherwise.
The NIA Customer Complaints Bureau was inaugurated about 18 months ago to serve as an ombudsman in the industry and to resolve disagreements between insurance companies and their aggrieved customers on the issue of claims.
It serves as a one-stop shop for dealing with disputes about insurance services and resolve disputes quickly with minimum formality and gives an independent opinion on disputes between insurers and insurance consumers in the country.
The bureau which is headed by Hon. Justice George Adesola Oguntade, a retired Supreme Court Judge, would serve as an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism for the industry devoid of all the protocols and technicalities involved in normal court process.
Inaugurating the committee then, Ladipo-Ajayi said that all the 51 insurance companies in the country gave their commitment to abide by the decisions of the bureau while aggrieved insurance consumers are free to either abide by the ruling of the bureau or seek further redress in the court of law.
“The bureau will listen, discuss, answer questions, provide information, and help develop options for resolving issues that may be brought before them. It is an alternative dispute resolution mechanism which is non-confrontational, impartial, and based on the principle of equity and good faith.
“It will serve as an independent and impartial office to investigate and mediate in disputes arising from insurance transactions and to recommend appropriate measures for amicable settlement.
“While members of the association have all agreed to abide by the decisions of the bureau, the policyholders will not be disenfranchised of their right to other resolution options. The goal is to safeguard the rights of persons and of promoting higher,” the NIA Chairman said.
In the last one year, the committee has resolved over 20 disputes on matters relating to claims between the insurers and the policyholders.