The Commissioner for Insurance, Mr Sunday Thomas, has charged operators in the insurance industry to deal with unethical business behaviour in the sector, with a view to repositioning the industry for post-COVID-19 era.
Thomas, the Chief Executive Officer, National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), spoke at the 2020 Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB) CEOs’ retreat, held virtually with the theme: ‘X-raying The Finance Act 2020’.
He said that as the insurance industry positions itself for Post COVID-19 era, the demands of the insuring public would require sound work ethics for optimal performance.
The NAICOM boss said the year had, no doubt, been a very challenging one for the sector, individual households and the economy at large, as a result of the pandemic.
“ For us in the insurance sector, what this situation has thrown up is that there must be a paradigm shift from our usual way of business practice.
“It is, therefore, imperative on us to embrace and align our businesses to the new world order, if we must be seen to be relevant,” he emphasised.
According to him, intermediaries, business sincerity and customers’ satisfaction must be central to the industry’s core business principles.
“Let me task you on business etiquette and ethics in all your professional dealings, as the unprofessional conduct of a few amongst you is posing great danger to our collective integrity as an industry.
“Over the years, a lot has been put into improving the fragile image and perception of insurance in this country.
“The commission has always and will at all times extend her full support to all stakeholders in the industry in their drive for business growth and development.
“NAICOM is open to new ideas and shall continue to introduce new reforms and initiatives in line with international best practices that will strengthen our institutions ,” he said.
According to him, NAICOM has also adjusted to the challenges and/or opportunities which the pandemic has imposed on the socio-economic and business environment.
The commissioner listed the fallouts of the COVID -19 restructuring by the regulator to include the review and extension of recapitalisation programme in recognition of the current realities.
He said that the automation of the commission’s processes for prompt service delivery had been fast tracked.
Thomas said the e -portal for the regulatory submission of various applications by operators and obtaining of e -approvals was at its final stage.
According to him, the framework for digitalisation of operations, such as IT Standards, Web aggregators and Regulatory Sandbox are in progress.
He commended the will of NCRIB to hold the CEOs retreat this year and its ability to adapt to current realities in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The commissioner lauded the council’s choice of the theme of the retreat, describing it as apt.
Thomas said it could not have come at a better time than now when the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic was taking its toll on the financial sector.
He said that the previous tax laws of the country were quite stringent on insurance operators in a manner, that it permitted double taxation by taxing investment income and policyholders’
Thomas said the tax laws allowed tax losses to be carried forward only for a maximum of four years of assessment, contrary to what was obtainable in other businesses.
“Tax deductible claims and other outgoings were limited to 25 per cent of total premium for general business, in contrast to what was obtainable in other businesses.
“The law did not also allow a full tax deduction on unexpired risk provision in relation to the financial year, ” he said.
Thomas expressed appreciation to all operators in the insurance sector for their respective donations in support of the Federal Government’s effort at containing the COVID-19 crisis.