By Ebere Nwoji
The Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA) has taken a step further in its fight against fake motor insurance policy through its recent launch of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) code *565*11# .
NIA, said the service data would enable motorists verify the authenticity of their insurance policies.
The Chairman of the NIA, Tope Smart, at the launch in Lagos, said the solution was designed to bring insurance closer to the people and ultimately eliminate fake insurance certificates in the market.
The NIID, was incepted in 2010 to eliminate fake motor and marine insurance certificates in the market. It went live in 2011 and has since then been helping motor vehicle users to check the authenticity of their motor insurance certificates on the internet and through dedicated hand held devices.
Smart, said the objective of the NIID was to serve as an authentic database of the Nigerian insurance industry data providing qualitative statistics/analysis of the industry data as well as a vehicle for easy verification of genuine insurance certificates by all stakeholders and to reduce incidences of fraudulent insurance transactions especially for motor and marine policies.
He said the industry has continued to reap the benefits of the scheme, adding that prior to the establishment of the platform, cloning and faking of insurance certificates was a thriving business, but the establishment of the database has assisted the industry in reducing the incidents of fake insurance certificates in the market and that presently, there are over three million vehicle details on the platform.
He noted that the platform has been enhanced to include stolen vehicles and claims reporting modules in response to the challenges thrown up by actions of suspected fraudsters that made multiple claims with the intent to defraud the industry over the last few years.
“The NIID platform had been operational nationwide, but with challenges in verification in areas with poor internet coverage.
“Verification of motor certificates through the dedicated devices became highly impaired due to the vicissitudes of internet operations in the hinterlands. This led to the introduction of the USSD technology.”
He described the USSD as a Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) technology used to send text between a mobile phone and an application programme in the network.
According to him, it works independent of internet connectivity, adding that in this instance, any mobile phone (not necessarily a smartphone) would communicate with the NIID system to retrieve policy status whenever required.
“It is hoped that with the USSD, we would have fully overcome the problems associated with the dedicated devices as it guarantees uninterrupted service throughout the country and on all networks.
“Our existing and prospective customers now have the opportunity to confirm the genuineness of their respective policies at the time of purchase to avoid any embarrassment should claim occur,” the NIA Chairman said.
He appreciated partners such as Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc and Courteville Business Solutions Plc. for their support and assured them of more strategic partnerships as the association develops other modules to improve insurance business in Nigeria.
Also speaking, the Acting Managing Director, Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System, Niyi Ajao, said the device would assist motorists in acquiring genuine policies and getting claims whenever there is problem with their insured vehicles.
Managing Director, Courteville Business Solutions Plc, Dr. Adebola Akindele, said there was huge insurance potential in the country and urged insurers to take the campaign on the device to states where there are presently less enforcement and millennials who are mostly consumers of technological devices.
He told insurers to redouble efforts in ensuring that the number of insured vehicles surpass what it is presently.
On his part, the Commissioner for Insurance, Mohammed Kari, who was represented by a member of staff of the commission, said the device would really impact the industry positively as it will help weed out fake policies.
The Zonal Commander, Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), John Meheux, said the device will help close the gap between fake and genuine motor insurance policies.