Barely two weeks after the insurance industry regulator, National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), announced a new capital base, operators in the industry have also intensified efforts at getting Nigerians from all walks of life, irrespective of gender and status to imbibe insurance as a lifestyle. Sunday Ojeme reports
Again, insurance industry operators are intensifying efforts at giving more Nigerians the positive option of spending a little of their income on insurance as a platform for recovery than suffering entire loss in the event of a disaster.
The latest development, coming weeks after a new capital raise was announced by the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), is a further step on the operators’ rebranding project that is entering into another phase.
Over the years, the sector has remained stunted due mainly to poor economic environment as well as poor knowledge of its benefits to majority of Nigerians. In an effort to change the dynamics, the regulator and operators have done a lot through policy initiative and grassroots campaigns to get more people into the insurance net.
Although this appears to have yielded some fruits, it is, however, too low considering the enormous human and natural resources the country is endowed with.
Amidst all this, however, a great number of people and businesses have suffered different form of misfortunes, leading to loss of lives and money running into billions of naira with commensurate compensation.
Although there have been series of campaigns to get people indemnify their life and property, the level of uncompensated losses appear to have been too overwhelming.
Changing the dynamics
In an effort to further spur the momentum, the rebranding project has been designed to get Nigerians conscious of the fact that insurance should be imbibed as a lifestyle rather than being seen another social past time.
The project is aimed at restoring confidence in the sector as well as boosting its abysmally low penetration and raising the industry’s paltry 0.2 per cent contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Speaking more on this recently, the Vice Chairman, Sub-Committee on Publicity and Communications, Insurers’ Committee, Mrs Ebelechukwu Nwachukwu, said it had become imperative for Nigerians to imbibe insurance as a lifestyle and not as a regulatory necessity.
Nwachukwu said this narrative necessitated the rebranding of the country’s insurance industry, stressing that the Insurer’s Committee, comprising of CEOs of all insurance companies in the country, engaged Alder Consulting, Nigeria’s leading creative intelligence firm, in 2018 to rebrand the industry and make it better understood by Nigerians, adding that the initiative was born out of the need to redefine the narrative about insurance and to educate Nigerians on its importance.
According to her, “the campaign was also designed to change the perception of the sector and increase the market penetration on insurance in Nigeria, considering that less than one per cent of Nigerian adult population was insured. About 80 per cent of those insured are 35 and above. Millennials below 35 years, who form over 70 per cent of Nigeria’s population, or about 138.6 million, form a large part of the uninsured.
“In line with the foregoing, the project was designed to showcase the advancements made in the insurance sector and to encourage more Nigerians to take up insurance. It would also highlight real customer testimonials of insurance. At the end of the day, insurance would be positioned as desirable and not just a regulatory necessity.”
On his part, Managing Partner, Alder Consulting, Mr. Leke Alder, explained that the campaign would span an initial period of three years involving different programmes in every quarter.
He added that instead of pushing a message of fear and tragedy, the campaign focuses on the fulfilment of hopes and dreams, when insurance serves as a safety net in life. Hence, the phrase “Live with Freedom” was adopted as the theme for the campaign.
“Insurance users can live life to the fullest because they are confident that no matter what happens, they are insured. To ensure that the campaign was continuous and sustainable, a dedicated website (www.insuranceandyou.ng) was developed. Social media pages – @insuranceandyou (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) – were also set-up to ensure that the campaign drilled down to the retail market space.
“According to a poll of 1,500 individuals in Lagos, Abuja, Enugu, Port Harcourt, Kaduna, Asaba and Ibadan conducted by Brand Sampling International, “since the beginning of the project, 66% of those who have heard the campaign are changing their perception of insurance.”
He further said that during the first phase, key milestones included using a new narrative to begin repositioning insurance; educating Nigerians on the importance of insurance; communicating innovative advancements in the insurance industry; showcasing testimonials from satisfied customers; and highlighting compulsory insurance categories required by the Federal Government.
“Materials were deployed across print, radio and social media. A brand activation event also held at the Ikeja City Mall in Lagos. 1,415 radio jingles were aired and 28 radio interviews were conducted. 121 videos, graphics and blog posts were posted across digital media platforms reaching a combined 8.8 million people,” he noted.
Although recently improved claims payment has provided a fillip for the image of the sector, penetration still appears very low.
Besides the Motor Third Party policy, which sells faster than others for obvious reasons, and a few others that are compulsory under the law, the other policies have been left at the whims and caprices of the public.
As part of espousing their seriousness to get deeper into the grassroots, operators have took the firm decision to rebrand the industry to showcase its unique opportunities to Nigerians, especially the younger generation, who constitute the largest segment of the population.
According to the Committee, the aim of the rebranding initiative is to emphasise the benefits of insurance and change the mindset of Nigerians on the general insurance industry.
The second aspect would involve pushing insurance companies operating in the country to up the ante on service delivery to their insured with the aim of having fewer complaints from such clients going forward.
As part of the arrangement, the project will cover the whole country through massive insurance education and awareness with Lagos and Abuja as pilot states.
According to the Chairman, Sub-Committee on Publicity and Communication, Insurers’ Committee, Hassan Oye-Odukale, prompt settlement of claims remains the best advertisement for the industry, stressing that the operators would ensure that companies observe their claims responsibilities.
He decried the relegation of insurance by corporate organisations and individuals in the country, saying that foreign investors take the strength of a country’s insurance sector into consideration more than the population.
Odukale pointed out that over 80 per cent of foreign investment inflows into the country was made possible by insurance underwritings, add ing that most foreign investors demanded that there must be structured insurance for their investments before they can invest into the country.
He said: “There are times when major investments were to come into this country. However, it took a while because we had to structure the insurance and eventually they were delivered to the Federal Government.
“Without insurance, such investments cannot take place in Nigeria. Investment cannot come into this country if there is no insurance support. By law now anything in this country must be insured in Nigeria.
“Insurance operators pay huge claims but nobody gets to hear about it. We hear so much that insurance don’t pay claims and such accusations are connected to most small claims where the insured probably have not conformed with one policy condition or the other and in the process create a lot of hullaballoo. Insurance is doing a whole lot in the economy and is moving the economy forward.”
He called for cooperation to keep the sector in business, saying that no nation could develop without a strong insurance industry.
Odukale promised that insurance firms were set to deepen insurance at the grassroots through the deployment of retail products, stressing that those small and medium enterprises owners should take advantage of insurance to keep their businesses going.
With the rebranding project entering its second phase, the Insurers’ Committee, individual operators and other stakeholders must intensify effort to ensure more Nigerians are captured to insure their life and assets, especially now that the industry has also been saddled with new capital base for the various segments of operations.