The initial excitement over the much publicised insurance industry rebranding project has waned.
Initiated by the industry operators to boost public awareness with a huge moral and financial support from the regulator, National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), the project, propelled by a N300 million budget, has suffered publicity glitch.
It was officially flagged off about four months ago after going through series of postponements since 2016 when it was supposed to have commenced.
Although it is expected to run in three phases beginning from the current year up till the next three years, recent developments, however, show that the little efforts put in by those handling it have had little or no effect contrary to the expectations of observers.
According to the arrangement, the underwriters in the next three years are expected to deploy various strategies, design attractive products to redefine and change the poor perception of the sector by members of the public.
The project is specifically aimed at restoring confidence in the sector as well as boosting its abysmally low penetration and raising the industry’s paltry 0.6 per cent contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
During the flag off, the Insurers’ Committee, the body put in place to drive the process, promised to lay emphasis on prompt claims payment, being one of the blights that have drawn the sector backwards over the years.
Although recently, improved claims payment has provided a fillip for the image of the sector, penetration still appears very low due to a number of factors including the bad shape of the economy as well as poor awareness that was left to degenerate for years.
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 to struggle without meeting the expected impact.
As part of espousing their seriousness to get deeper into the grassroots, operators took the firm decision to rebrand the industry to showcase unique benefits embedded in insurance to Nigerians, especially the younger generation, who now 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 mind-set of Nigerians on the general insurance industry.
Although the first phase appears to have experienced some lull since inception, the second aspect, according to the handlers, will involve boosting service delivery to the 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.
It will also utilise the online medium such as Facebook, Twitter, among other platforms to create awareness on the need to subscribe to insurance products and services, following the rapid increase in the number of Internet and online users in the country.
This would later be followed by jingles on broadcast media, while also utilising the print and billboard mediums.
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 noted that over 80 per cent of foreign investment inflow into the country was made possible by insurance underwritings, adding 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 said 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.