By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed has charged the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), to explore ways of increasing its revenue through the use of technology.
Mrs Ahmed who gave the charge while commissioning the NAICOM Portal at Commission’s headquarters in Abuja on Friday said the windling government revenue profile “demands that the Commission must look into ways of increasing its revenue through the use of technology and the Portal in particular”.
She urged the Commission to ensure that the Portal is connected to other government databases like the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) NIN Database, Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) Passport Database, Nigeria Integrated Customs Information system, FRSC’s National Vehicle Identification System, the National Vehicle Registry, State Licensing Databases among others in order to provide value added services to all Insurance Industry stakeholders and enhance revenue generation.
The Minister said, “in addition, the NAICOM Portal must also serve as the central database and sole repository of all Insurance Data connected to government databases in the country”.
She noted that the unsatisfactory response to settlement of claims by underwriters had greatly contributed to the prevailing poor public perception and lack of trust and confidence in the insurance Industry.
“Indeed, prompt claims payment is the best advertisement for the industry, therefore all genuine claims that have been duly verified and due process followed, should be paid promptly. The Commission must put in place mechanisms to ensure Insurance companies meet their obligations to policyholders by paying claims promptly as that is the major reason they exist in the first place. claims payment determines the valuable structure of the industry in the economy.
“The current Insurance Penetration, a measure of the contribution of Insurance to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 0.88 for 2021 is very low. This indicates a low Insurance sector development contribution to the National Economy. However, this also shows that there are abounding opportunities for growth in the market.
“There is a need therefore, to develop new innovative products based on data and customer preferences and introduction of new channels of distribution beyond the traditional channels to reach new segments of the market. There is also a need for cooperation with other agencies of government to enforce compulsory insurances in the country.
Mrs Ahmed also enjoined stakeholders in the industry to consciously and intentionally spread the reach of insurance from the major cities and few states to other regions of the country especially the rural areas, stressing that low penetration in the retail end of the market must also be addressed through vigorous drive of inclusive Insurance like micro insurance and takaful.
In addition, she pointed out, deliberate attention must be given to the low insurance literacy and education in the country, as well as put in place strategies for insurance education, awareness and enlightenment.
“Massive sensitization must be done on both traditional and new media on the benefits of Insurance. I want to advice that insurance education should be introduced in the education curriculum from Primary to Tertiary Schools. I want to encourage the industry to adopt new and disruptive technologies like mobile technology, cloud computing, Artificial intelligence, Blockchain, Data Analytics and Internet of things in driving and supporting its business”, she added.
While commending the Commission for being in the forefront in introducing the Portal, and for incepting initiatives in this direction including Guidelines for Web Aggregators and Regulatory Sandbox, introduction of BIMA Lab Insurtech Accelerator Program, the Minister said, “there is a need for Regulatory framework for Insurtech coqmpanies to guide and supervise their operation without inhibiting their innovation”.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Commissioner for Insurance, Mr Sunday Thomas said the NAICOM Portal is one of the initiatives of the Commission being pursued to deepen the insurance market and increase the penetration to the level that is consistent with the nations economy.
He disclosed that,l the Commission in July 2009, embarked on a comprehensive computerization effort tagged project e-regulation that was meant to transform its operational procedures and the conduct of its regulatory responsibilities by providing a robust, world class ICT Infrastructure to help implement an automated business processes internally and for industry wide supervision via an integrated platform.
He said prior to this development, the processing of applications required that applicants physically drop off their applications at the Commission with the attendant challenges of delays in processing times, wasted manpower hours due to back-and-forth in application processing as well as ineffective application tracking system.
He pointed out that that with the completion of the portal “there will be process efficiency and faster processing time as applications and supporting documents are submitted online, applicant’s account is updated with the status of the application as it progresses and there is effective Real-time communication between NAICOM and the applicant”.
The Portal has four systems, including:
*The Policy System whicbh captures ALL insurance policies issued in Nigeria online real time via Application Programming Interface (APIs);
*Licensing System which automates the core business processes of Registration/Renewal of Licenses, New Products, AIP no objection & Attestation approvals at NAICOM;
*Complaints Management System, with a customized solution designed to help the Commission manage complaints and handle issues seamlessly as well as ensure that insurance companies are performing highly and clients are serviced adequately.
Finance Minister, Mrs Ahmed with the Commissioner for Insurance Mr. Thomas during the Inauguration of NAICOM Portal.