PenCom Clears 135 Firms to Participate in FG Deals.

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Ebere Nwoji
The National Pension Commission (PenCom) has cleared 135 companies to bid and participate in federal government businesses.
The firms have been issued with certificate of compliance to enable them participate in government deals.
PenCom disclosed this in a recent statement published on its website.

The companies were certified fit for business by the commission as at January 9, 2019.
The Pension Act mandates employers with three and more employees to financially contribute and remit 18 per cent towards employees’ pension. This is in order of 10 per cent from the employer and eight per cent from the employee, which is monthly injected into a Retirement Savings Account (RSA) domiciled with Pension Fund Custodians (PFCs) and managed by Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs).
As part of the enforcement of the Act, PenCom in collaboration with the federal government, made it mandatory for all companies biding government’s business to yearly secure the certificate of compliance.

Some companies amongst the 135 are Straco Nigeria Limited which has 3950 employees and contributed and remitted N521.09 million; AIICO Insurance Plc, with 259 employees contributed and remitted, N145.06 million; Leadway Assurance Limited, remitted N135.10 million for 287 employees.

Others are, Datum Construction Nigeria Limited, remitted N6.50 million for 75 employees; Rockbridge Construction Limited, N10.72 million for 99 employees; Risk Analyst Insurance Brokers Limited, N3.08 million for 15 employees; Pacific Silverline Limited, N2.29 million for five employees; Jully & Partners Insurance Brokers Limited, N1.15 million for five employees and interracial Networks Limited, N2.69 for 14 employees.

Wapic Insurance Sets Up Ombudsman for Dispute Settlement
WAPIC Insurance Plc, one of the insurance underwriting firms in the country has launched an ombudsman desk that will investigate and mediate fair settlement of commercial disputes between the company and its customers.

With this, Wapic Insurance stands as the first insurance firm to establish a mediation desk aimed at ensuring that members of the insuring public receive fair treatment especially in claims settlement from their risk underwriters.

Before now, similar mediation bodies were established by both the industry regulator, the National Insurance Commission(NAICOM) and the umbrella body of underwriters, the Nigeria Insurers Association(NIA), but no insurance underwriting firm has set up such desk before the current one set up by WAPIc Insurance.
The company said the move was part of efforts to sustain the robust relationship it had built with customers over the years.

Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Wapic, Mrs. Yinka Adekoya, at the launch in Lagos, said the ombudsman desk would be responsible for informally investigating and mediating fair settlement of commercial disputes between the company and its customers.
According to her, the desk, which will operate independently would usually engage the parties informally with a view to resolving the dispute timely, encourage business continuity and improve customer experience.

We at Wapic Insurance are very excited to launch this initiative. Whilst the notion of having an ombudsman desk is not new in the Western-developed societies and some parts of Africa including Nigeria, this is first time an insurance company will launch its very own ombudsman desk.

It is a feat for us as an organisation and this also buttresses our vision which is to transform and illuminate the insurance industry for the benefit of our customers and stakeholders as well as our mission which is leading in all that is worthy,” she added
She maintained that the desk was launched to inform the company’s customers of the best medium to channel their disputes and also to build confidence in current and prospective customers about the firm’s services and ability to handle their expectations. “Our customers should know that we are continuously transparent in our business operations. Our goal is to continue to strengthen business relationships,” she added.

According to her, the desk is independent, hence, its resolutions cannot be manipulated. She also noted that the desk reports to the management and board and that it has been empowered to handle all claims related cases, irrespective of the amount involved.
Presenting the activities of the ombudsman, Wapic Insurance Executive Director, Mr. Bode Ojeniyi, said the pilot scheme of the initiative started in 2018 and since then, over 57 cases have been resolved amicably.

He highlighted the benefits of the initiative to include, speedy resolution of customers complaints; strengthening business relationship with customers after resolution of disputes; serves as a channel of feedback from customers; identification of potential risks and problem areas in business relationship with customers and advice accordingly.
He said with the ombudsman desk, the risk of lawsuits against the company are minimised, as disputes are resolved internally and amicably amongst others.

Linkage Assurance Assures Customers of Improved Services
Linkage Assurance Plc has assured its stakeholders of efficient and quality service delivery as well as increased value creation in all its operations in the new business year.
The underwriting firm said it believes that with increased investment in technological infrastructure and quality manpower, which it has attracted in the outgoing year the future is bright for it.

Managing Director/CEO, Linkage Assurance Plc, Daniel Braie, made the remark at the company’s 2018 end of year dinner and awards held in Lagos.
Braie, who commended the company’s staff for their contributions in 2018, said the insurer was able to overcome the challenges in the business environment because of the commitment of the staff.

The business environment was very challenging in 2018 to the extent that companies were having difficulties but with God on our side we did not perform badly.
“We have been able to attract quality staff, better infrastructures to enable us deliver quality service in the coming year, and I am hopeful that we will do better in 2019,” he said.

Braie, however charged the staff to redouble their efforts to sustain the growth achieved so far and the targets it has set for itself as a company.
The event was an opportunity for the company to reward its staff who showed outstanding performance in their different departments during the outgoing year.

UK Car Insurance Premiums Fall 6% in 2018
The cost of a comprehensive motor insurance policy fell six per cent in Britain in 2018, according to a survey, which indicated potential trade barriers brought on by the country’s looming exit from the European Union would hurt prices in 2019.

According to Reuters, prices in 2018 were pushed down by changes in the Ogden rate, used to calculate compensation for personal injuries, and the Civil Liability Bill, which includes reforms likely to reduce claims for whiplash injuries. Whiplash is a form of neck injury caused by a sudden jolt that snaps the head backwards but insurers argue that many claims in such cases are fraudulent.

The average premium for a comprehensive policy is now 774 pounds ($995.60), according to the latest index from price comparison site Confused.com, compiled by insurance advisory company Willis Towers Watson Plc.

The index, based on enquiries submitted to insurer Admiral Group’s Confused.com, found that the final quarter of 2018 saw prices rise by an average of two per cent, following an increase of 1 percent the previous quarter.

“Recent price rises reflect the intense pressure on margins being experienced by insurers due to repair cost and claims inflation, which are likely to be further impacted by Brexit developments,” said Stephen Jones, UK head of P&C pricing, claims, product and underwriting at Willis Towers Watson.

Companies such as Admiral, RSA Insurance Group Plc, Direct Line Insurance Group Plc, esure and Hastings Group Holdings Plc provide motor insurance for Britain’s highly competitive insurance sector.
“Low interest rates and intense competition will continue to impact premiums in 2019, with insurers facing the additional risk of a significant rise in the cost of repairs and imported car parts due to exchange rate movements, new tariffs or other potential Brexit-related trade barriers,” Jones added.

CITIC-Prudential to Expand into China’s Province
CITIC-Prudential Life Insurance has received approval from China’s insurance regulator to expand into Shaanxi Province and establish its 20th branch.
The firm, which is a joint venture between China’s state-owned CITIC Group and British insurer Prudential plc, has received the go signal from the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) to begin preparatory work in establishing the new branch in Shaanxi.

The province contains the ancient capital of Xi’an. Formerly an entry point to the Silk Road, the city has experienced rapid social and economic development in recent years. With a population of 38 million, Shaanxi registered GDP of RMB2.2 trillion (US$325 million) in 2017, an eight per cent year-on-year increase. Its life insurance industry also grew by 12 per cent, with RMB70 million in insurance premiums in the year to November 2018.
“China is central to Prudential’s growth strategy and represents our third-largest growth market in Asia,” said Nic Nicandrou, CEO of Prudential Corporation Asia and chairman of CITIC-Prudential.

Insurancebusinessmag.com quoted him to have added: “The rising middle class, ageing population and soaring household wealth present tremendous opportunities for us to support the health and protection needs of the population in China where many families are still uninsured or under-insured.
“Since entering China in 2000, CITIC-Prudential has seen strong annual double-digit, high quality growth,” Nicandrou said. “The addition of the Shaanxi branch is a milestone because it allows us to better serve customers in Northwest China.”