A sign post of Universal Insurance Plc as one of the fast growing companies has been underlined by the Nigerian Exchange Limited where the company was placed 12 among the 15 companies.
The MD/CEO Dr Ben Ujoatuonu disclosed this at the recent AGM of Nigerian Association of Insurance and Pension Editors (NAIPE) in Lagos “Recently, there was an analysis of 15 top insurance companies in the stock market in terms of their performance last year and their growth rate. Universal made it to number 12 and what is very significant is that Universal had the highest percentage of growth with 58 per cent growth.”
Adjunct to this is company’s expansion programme, opening more branches nationwide and the nod from the regulator NAICOM to open branches in Apapa, and Lekki in Lagos, Kano and Maiduguri. People were curious about Maiduguri and, he explained that the risks of the NGOs and state government need insurance cover as well as individuals. Besides, he said the company is not done with adding more branches, adding that more will follow as part of its expansion strategy.
In terms of product development, Ujoatuonu recalled that since he took over as the Managing Director, his management team has been able to come up with new products that have rejuvenated its retail line of business.
“In this month of July, we are flagging off the Universal Insurance Network Marketing model which we have designed to sell our products starting with personal accident insurance and this comes with an incentive for people who introduce others to the network. We are also launching our Mobile App which is already on the Google Play Store, through which people can access our products. We are not resting on our oars, we have a lot in our kitty which we are still developing.
He noted that the branch network is strategic, “If you take a critical look at our branch network, you will see that the bulk of our presence is down east. It is a strategic move aimed at ensuring that the company maintains its historical clientele base.
“There is no state in the southeast where we don’t have a presence. In some states we have two branches, in Abia State for instance, we have two branches, in Anambra we have two branches and in all other south-eastern states we have a branch. We have created a regional hub there; the essence is to ensure that we have a strong grip of our origin. What we are also doing is trying to penetrate other areas and markets. We have a very strong focus on looking at the northern zone of the country and we have started making inroads with our presence in Abuja and Kano with more branches soon to be established up north.”
Dr. Ujoatuonu noted that Universal Insurance is collaborating with the Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, ECCIMA, in trying to see how they can penetrate all the industries within the southeast.
“The last Enugu Trade Fair was sponsored by Universal Insurance. This is part of our strategy in entrenching ourselves in the south east and we are not going to relent in doing that. The businesses are coming and we hope to grow them better because there are still tremendous opportunities there, notwithstanding the obvious challenges that are facing the economy of the southeast.
“The economy is so bad but we invested heavily in the retail line of business and of a truth, despite what we are having, our retail line of business is growing, and that was what informed the network marketing model that we created. The network marketing is done in such a way that even as a customer or policy holder that is buying insurance, as you buy and introduce people, you earn incentives for the introduction. So you are not just buying the cover, you also make money from buying the cover. We devised it as a strategy to penetrate the market even now in this hard economic situation, so that people can earn money from their insurance purchase,” he added.