The National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) and other stakeholders on Friday charged members of the Association of Registered Insurance Agents of Nigeria (ARIAN) to deepen insurance penetration in the country.
They made the call at the 2022 National Conference/Annual General Meeting/Election and induction of the new executive of ARIAN in Lagos.
The theme of the conference was, “Insurance Penetration, A Determinant To Economic Growth, Agency As A Catalyst.”
The Commissioner for Insurance/Chief Executive Officer, NAICOM, Mr Sunday Thomas, identified insurance agents as a very critical component to grow the industry because of their large number and accessibility to the masses.
Thomas, represented by Mrs Vera Aimufua, Principal Manager, Licencing and Regulation Intermediaries department, NAICOM, said to achieve the mandate, agents must see themselves as ambassadors of the insurance companies that they represented.
“Insurance agents as the first contact of an insurance firm, must acquire skills and regularly develop themselves to be able to sell insurance products.
“One of the factors hindering penetration is the miselling of insurance products and the only way of not miss-selling a product is to understand the product.
“Agents are expected to be versatile and make use of the opportunities presented to them.
“For example, an agent that sells life products for an insurance company can also sell non-life products of another insurance firm to provide a total package or bundled products for a client,” he said.
The commissioner charged the insurance agents to subscribe to the NAICOM’s e-portal for fresh registration and renewal of their licences as directed by the commission to ease the processes of their applications.
Thomas hinted that the commission had begun discussions with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for insurance companies to partner telecommunications companies (Telcos) to sell their products.
He expressed optimism that the partnership would ease the purchase of insurance products and in turn increase penetration.
In his keynote address, the Managing Director, AIICO Insurance, Mr Babatunde Fajemirokun, lauded the insurance agents for their contributions to the industry.
Fajemirorun, represented by Mrs Titilola Okunlola, Head, Technical Operations, AIICO, advised insurers to equip their agents with robust technologies to enable them add value to their various firms and the industry.
He charged the agents to shift from their old ways of doing things by leveraging technology.
“The customers you are dealing with are technologically inclined and expect you to deliver on the spot, so you must develop your IT skills to enable you to deliver timely and effectively.
“You must also represent your various companies well, to avoid reputation damage and encourage healthy competition in the industry to contribute largely to the economy,” he said.
In his lecture, Mr Joseph Lawal, National Agency Controller, Leadway Assurance, said insurance firms must not encourage dichotomy to get the best from agents.
Lawal noted that agents contributed more than 34 per cent of the Gross Written Premium of the entire business of insurance companies.
“Agents are integral part of the insurance companies’ system and as such must be engaged with regularly to get feedback from clients,” he said.
Lawal charged the agents to use technology to drive insurance penetration and cyberpolicing to take care of the demerit of such digitalisation.
He advised the agents to collaborate with Educational Partners, Credit systems, regulators of “Esusu,” thrift collection, to sell products designed for such segments to increase penetration.
Also, Mr Femi Oladimeji, Group Head, Retail, Mutual Benefit, said agency was the future of insurance in Nigeria, as organisations were looking for the right agents to push their course to grow.
Oladimeji stated that agents as catalysts, must take their profession more seriously to speed up the penetration that the industry was working vigorously to achieve.
Mrs Funke Sanni, Head, Retail Distribution, Old Mutual Assurance, charged the agents to align their goals with those of their companies.
Sanni, represented by Mr David Awogbamila, Life Manager, Old Mutual Assurance, told the agents to target the low income earners, sell their products in different languages and also present bundled products to their clients to give them options.
In his welcome address, Mr Kazeem Odewunmi, National President, ARIAN, said the association would continue to promote professionalism amongst its members towards achieving excellence in the industry.
Odewunmi said ARIAN had also developed a data base for registered agents in the country for proper regulation of their operations and to stamp out quacks.
Leave a Reply