Experts task government on insurance adoption to boost economy prosperity

Jim Ovia

To break the poverty cycle and ill-health in Nigeria, there is a need for federal government to make insurance adoption a priority, stakeholders in the industry have said.

The stakeholders, who spoke at just concluded 2018 National Insurance Conference, with the theme: “Insurance Industry & Financial Inclusion,” in Abuja, noted that insurance remains one of the best tools to achieve economic turnaround.

The Chairman, Zenith Bank Plc, Jim Ovia, who is also one of the guest speakers at the conference, argued that for underwriters to break the cycle, they have to intensify efforts in deploying.

He called on the industry regulator, National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), to work closely with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to ensure the deployment of micro insurance through mobile technology.

He noted that with the deployment of micro-insurance through digital technology, insurers can contribute up to 12.5 per cent to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2025, whilst urging insurers to migrate from traditional ways of offering insurance, to embracing new methods of insurance.

The Commissioner for Insurance, Mohammed Kari, said the insurance sector plays a vital role, as it helps to reduce the poverty line, helps entities and individuals manage their risks, and protects them from negative adverse effects of unforeseeable events.

He said: “In 2012, Nigeria launched the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS), to reduce the percentage of adults that are excluded from financial services from 46.3 per cent in 2010 to 20 per cent in 2020.

The strategic goals are driven by a broad range of coordinated interventions, including simplified Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations, Agent banking, Micro-insurance and Consumer Protection principles.”

He noted that in aligning with the National Financial Inclusion target and the need to deepen insurance penetration, NAICOM focused on two objectives namely: insurance awareness campaign for the financially excluded, and promoting the development of products and business models that meet the needs of these excluded groups.

“In the area of Micro-insurance, NAICOM has been working with Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit Gmbh, GIZ of Germany, and our own Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA).

The relationship with these two bodies have culminated in a well-documented diagnostic study of the Nigerian market, several seminars, workshops and trainings on Micro-insurance for both operators and staff of NAICOM and the industry at large.

“In December 2017, the Commission went a step further and invited the Toronto Centre, Canada, to conduct a training session in Abuja for insurance operators and regulators in the West-African sub-region,” he said.

Kari maintained that financial inclusion is collective responsibility of all, whilst calling on stakeholders to support the regulator as it forges ahead in creating an enabling and sustainable environment for insurance penetration, and increasing access to financial services and products.

The Chief Executive Officer, Economic Associates, Ayodele Teriba, who was the Chairman of Session, said there is a need to work on macroeconomic issues, to enable the microeconomic work effectively, adding that people often do not buy insurance because of their purchasing power.

He said people need to first sort out other pressing needs before thinking insurance, and called on the government to ensure that issues relating to inflation, employment are sorted out to enable the citizenry have the income to buy insurance.

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