Insurance operator,s in Nigeria marshalled all its corporate capabilities and underwriting capacities to put up a performance in the face of daunting Covid-19 pandemic (2020) and the year after (2021) that outpaced the disruptions in several sectors of the economy but could not put the insurance operations under its cold wings.
The barely enough insulation from Covid disruptions cited by the Commissioner for Insurance, Mr. Sunday Thomas at the weekend media retreat for financial journalists at Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, was picked up at the economic indicators signal station of the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics. Content Thomas captured the NBS moment of endorsement, “The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics figures has shown that the sector has recorded positive increase in almost all parameters and have rated the sector as one of the fastest growing sectors in activities.”
However striking the endorsement is, the CFI is not swayed off course but sees it as a dose needed to climb higher. His reaction speaks, “Even though we are climbing the ladder, we all know that there is need for us to do much better as our our potentials are huge.”
He took this further, “The importance of insurance post Covid-19 and the aftermath of EndSARS protests cannot be overemphasised hence, the marginal increase in the uptake of policies boosting the retail market and the annuity component.”
The statement of the Commission CEO was further reinforced by Mr. Barineka Thompson, director supervision, who presented “Nigeria’s Insurance Market Growth and Sustainability Post Covid-19.” at the retreat. Providing more insight for excluding the insurance sector from the firm grip of Covid-19, Thompson said, “Although there has been general negative effect of Covid-19, some sectors of the Nigerian economy reported growth, including the insurance sector.” Deflecting any opinion to the contrary, he declares, “The insurance sector has been resilient and largely stable during the Covid-19 period.”
He said the major drivers in 2021 non-life were oil and gas (30.1%), fire (19.1%), and motor (15.2%); for life in the same period, the major drivers were individual life (47.7%), and group life (26.9%). Besides, he said insurers reported market retention, with topmost class in motor (94.8%) and oil and gas (35.4%) in 2021.
Also of interest is claims, and he narrowed the growth in claims expense largely to the difficult times of Covid-19 and EndSARS riot across the nation. Mr. Thomas also devoted a significant piece of his keynote address to claims, noting that it “has always been one aspect the industry is battling to balance. We all agree that we cannot claim ignorance of the fact the industry is paying huge claims out there even though activities of few amongst the operators is jeopardising the efforts of the majority.
“We had before now agreed to start ranking companies on the number of claims received and settled on annual basis and we intend to publish such ranking for the insurance consumers,” he stated
Noting the impact claims handling on the industry, concerned Thomas said, the Commission is keenly involved in dislodging claims avoidance, “It is always an issue that put the entire industry on the edge. The Commission is doing all it can to see that the non-settlement of claims is brought to its barest minimum in the sector
On the performance of the industry during and post Covid, NAICOM supervision czar, Thompson, also could not divorce the insulation of the industry during Covid disruptions from prior huge investments in IT infrastructure by the operators and the regulator. This was seen in the largely deployment of high IT-end infrastructure and automation by the operators on the one hand and same by the Commission at a very high level which he stated, will continue to facilitate compliance by insurers and supervisory activities.