Insurance Industry Operators Urged to Be Professional

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Ebere Nwoji

Insurance firms that are insolvency or indulge in questionable business operations may this year fall by the way side as stakeholders in the sector, have resolved that such errant firms should be shown the way out.

They are insisting that every operating firm should have the technical and professional competences to save the industry’s image and restore public confidence in the sector.

The regulator, the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) in particular, was challenged to strengthen its regulatory base and ensure that firms operating in the system are in all ramifications fit to operate.
At the 2018 media retreat organised by the Insurance Industry Consultative Council (IICC) with the theme ‘Role of the Media in Deepening Insurance Penetration’, the insurance industry operators were challenged to set their agenda right so that the media and other external actors in the business can have a stand to help them.

Speaking on the above topic, the Editorial Page Editor, The Nation Newspapers, Sanya Oni,
noted that amidst clamour to deepen penetration in all nooks and crannies of Nigeria by the operators and the regulator, a lot of challenges currently besiege the industry.

He said the challenges have raised questions for the operators such as “do our practitioners truly understand our environment and its peculiarities? In an environment where risks are routinely prayed out and banished as ‘not my portion’, how do we get the prospective consumer of the insurance product to accept to dump the intangible of faith for an equally intangible product administered by human institutions?”
He said this is in the realm of public education and awareness, further adding that the media can in good measure help break down a number of cultural/sociological abhorrent barriers impeding the business.

He however said before the media can play its role in this regard, the operators should examine themselves and address recurring questions in their business such as “is our product offering truly relevant? does it match the consumer’s perception of utility? Is the problem essentially one of communication or messaging? Considering the saying that insurance products are not bought but sold, what is the industry response to the marketing challenge? And, how much of current technologies are being used to market insurance products?”
He said as a survival strategy, insurers and the industry stake holders must acknowledge that things are not what they ought to be in the industry.

Early in her welcome address, the Chairman IICC and president of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN) Mrs. Funmi Babington-Ashaye, said that given some recent developments in the industry and negative public perception and comments about the industry, it is high time the regulator looked at activities of individual company, address them specifically fishing out the bad eggs and treating their cases individually.

She noted that the insurance industry is today in a precarious state, due to the various unfolding dynamics, calling for change of operation and strategies by operators.
She also said the media has a big role to play in this regard.
“The industry would be able to stave these besetting odds and maintain an acceptable image in the eyes of the public, only if the media shows understanding and appreciation of the times that the industry is at the moment. Our channels of response in the industry are open to you gentlemen of the media to clarify information before going to publish”, she stated.