The Director General, Nigerian Insurers Association(NIA), Mrs. Yetunde Ilori and the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Sunu Assurance Plc, Mr. Moruf Apampa, have both charged underwriters to build the trust of Nigerians in a bid to increase insurance penetration in the country.
The two experts, who spoke at the 3rd National Conference of the National Association of Insurance and Pension Correspondents(NAIPCO) in Lagos, added that since the business of insurance is about utmost good faith, then, insurers must earn the trust of the people to deepen insurance penetration.
The reason Nigerians are neglecting insurance, according to Mrs. Yetunde Ilori, has to do with the negative perception they have about insurance services, stating that there is no regulatory enforcement of insurance unlike pension. Misconception and misrepresentation, she said, is another very serious problem that must be quickly addressed by operators in the sector.
“It is high time insurers understand what the buyers are looking for; how do they want it as well as where do they want it so that this will drive a change in their behavioural pattern when it comes to deploying their limited resources,” she stated.
Moreover, she said, if insurance products are readily accessible to the people, it will attract more people and that if it’s deployed through mobile phones and a familiar terrain such as the banks, people will take advantage of this and embrace insurance, thereby, deepening penetration as well contributing to nation’s economy.
When developing insurance products, she said, innovation and creativity should be taken into consideration, noting that a product should be able to address the needs of the customer; it should be kept simply and flexible. She equally charged operators to offer bundled and complementary products that will make insurance attractive to Nigerians.
Stating that products should be scaled down in such a way that it addresses the immediate needs, she added that, insurance pricing should be scientific and commensurate discounts and incentives should be put in place so that people can love to enjoy it.
“Insurance Companies, Association and Regulators should be responsive when it comes to complaints and disputes resolution. Those that sell insurance should be people that are knowledgeable and have high sense of honesty who will not deceive the buyers. Since Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is the in thing, insurance company should invest more in ICT so that people can leverage on that and be reached when they want it as they want it.” she stressed.
On his part, Mr. Moruf Apampa said, insurers must know their customers, to be able to carve products that address their immediate needs, adding that, it is high time operators focus on the retail business.
According to him, “the most important thing for us(insurance companies) to do is to actually first know our customers; how do we reach them and how to serve them because if you don’t know your customer, you can’t reach and serve them. Insurance penetration is currently below 1.5 per cent, and yet, operators are focusing on the corporate side of the business. What is happening to the retail side of the business; the market women; the trade associations? We need to identify these people and then device means to reach them.”
Stating that insurance policy rates might not necessarily be a challenge, he believes insurers are not doing enough to convince the people to buy insurance.
“Okada rider can afford N2,000 pepper soup in a day and the same Okada rider cannot afford to buy annual insurance for N1,500. What we need to do as I said earlier, is to know these customers. Now, they are willing to pay, but how do we make them to pay? They only want two things, which are, investment and protection,” he stressed.
Urging underwriting firms to make their products accessible and attractive to these people, he called on operators to be responsive to claims settlement as these can go a long way to make Nigerians build their trust in insurance services.
To him, “We have to be very fast in terms of paying claims. In terms of product innovation, I think we have to be very innovative. What kind of products are we churning out? Are these products really addressing the need of the people? These are questions that must be answered. The only thing we can give to these people is to get their trust and when you get their trust, they can give you their money.”