Kari Tasks Insurers on Business Transformation, Customer Realignment


Ebere Nwoji

The Commissioner for Insurance, Alhaji Mohammed Kari, has charged insurance operators to use opportunities and prevailing challenges thrown up by factors such as competitive environment, changes in the world economy as a result of globalisation, deregulation, privatisation, financial meltdown, and the modern advancement in technology to transform their businesses for efficient delivery of products and services.

Kari, also urged members of insuring public with genuine unsettled claims to channel their grievances through the public Complaint Bureau set up by the National Insurance Commission(NAICOM)
Kari, who spoke at the maiden insurance consumers’ forum organised by the commission in Lagos, said that NAICOM was aware that the satisfaction of consumers of product and services play a vital role in the sustenance of any business.

“The difference between great and poor customer service has always been clear, and businesses on the wrong end of this spectrum usually pay a price. This is as true for insurance as it is for any other customer-facing business. Today, the consequences of subpar service are amplified by the speed and reach of social media. One poorly handled claim, one mistake captured on a smart phone could escalate quickly into a brand-damaging crisis. This is why we believe it has become imperative that insurance firms increased their focus on providing great customer experience,” he maintained.

He reminded insurance operators that providing a strong customer experience is not just about reducing the risk of customer service mishaps.

“It is increasingly a way for companies in competitive markets to distinguish their brands, adding that delivering a superior customer experience takes more than developing a mobile application or adding a call centre staff”, he stressed.
According to him, in addition, it requires significant investments, relentless improvements, and collaboration across customer channels and business functions, from distribution and underwriting to claims handling.

He added: “Understanding what customers want is paramount in building a better customer experience. However, the Commission in recent time has noticed certain behaviours and actions of consumers that are not in psych with this belief which is detrimental and dangerous to the insurance industry in Nigeria.
“We have seen situations where the insured (Consumer) in connivance with insurance Brokers allot proportion of risk to local underwriters without due cognisance of the insurers’ capacity; preferring to place risk abroad even when the local market is not saturated. Some consumers also in alliance with intermediaries chose to exclude some underwriters from participation in underwriting certain risks without cogent tenable justification”.

He said the Commission, frowns on these practices and wants to inform such consumers to desist from the practices as they run counter to regulations.
“Where we have noticed such practices, we have rejected applications from operators for approval to cede such risks abroad. This action of the consumer/broker sometime leads to delays in placement of the risk even when the insured has paid its premium to the intermediary”, he said.

He explained that while the Commission is not averse to ceding of risk offshore, it must be done only when the local market has taken the much its capacity would allow.
He informed the insurance consumers at the forum that in a bid to ensure that the commission attends to the issue of unsettled genuine claims objectively, it has upgraded the CBU, which according to him, is now headed by a Deputy Director in the commission.

“The Commission had signalled the issue of effective and efficient service delivery to consumers as a key priority with its establishment of Complaint Bureau Unit to deal with complains from members of the public against any insurance operator. This Unit had recently been upgraded and is headed by a Deputy Director to attend to aggrieved consumers”, He added.