A finance technocrat has advocated stakeholders’ partnership with the media to build trust and confidence in the insurance sector.
In a lead paper on the theme “Media as catalyst for insurance inclusion” delivered at the 2022 Insurance Industry Consultative Council (IICC) media retreat organized for members of the Nigerian Association of Insurance and Pension Editors (NAIPE) held at the weekend in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, Head, Corporate Communications, Polaris Bank Limited and President, Association of Marketing Communications Professionals in Banks (ACAMB), Rasheed Bolarinwa, said “There is need for a deliberate collaborative campaign for national awareness about the importance of insurance.”
“Besides, a dedicated jointly owned media vehicle should be created by all stakeholders to serve as a news agency on insurance content shared with other media houses.
According to him, “Regulatory bodies in the Nigerian insurance industry are expected to partner the Nigerian media industry towards creating a diverse and inclusive newsroom; that has content development and coverage strategy that builds audience trust in insurance and provides for a better representation of different societies.”
Speaking on issues militating against insurance penetration in Nigeria, Mr Bolarinwa mentioned doubts about insurance companies, hostile economy, trust issues emanating from hidden clauses, inadequate access to Information Technology, weak regulatory framework, lack of skilled personnel and poor awareness of insurance services by the prospective assured, among other factors.
He said ”The response that follows the mention of insurance or insurance companies to an average Nigerian is predictable. Negative reactions and lukewarm attitude are the kinds of feeling that come with an invitation to insurance policies. This informed the low patronage and acceptance of insurance companies operating in Nigeria.
“This untoward reaction and attitude by Nigerians may not be unrelated to the poor attitude of the insurers towards the often repeated chorus of refusal to pay claims. Some insurance companies have truly developed a bad reputation for defaulting in the payment of claims. This unfortunately grew to become a negative public emblem that hangs beside their corporate identities. Invariably, the industry and the nation’s depleting Gross Domestic Product (GDP) are big losers.”
While giving kudos to the industry for paying huge claims on losses suffered by millions of insured, Bolarinwa said “Things have changed though as underwriters have paid and are still paying huge claims on losses suffered by millions of insured that we read daily in the media.”
On how the hostile economy is affecting insurance industry, he said “At this moment, insurance companies are not willing to invest the premiums in long-term instruments because of the fear of inflation built up over several years due to fiscal indiscipline and high inflation. Everybody knows in economics that short-term investment can only bring lower returns. With these trends, insurance companies will only be able to run on the spot; underwriters would not be able to pay claims. Only a viable economy that has a robust business environment can allow insurance companies to thrive.”
Stressing on the need to demystify insurance to take its pride of place in the nation’s economy, the communications expert said, “Insurance will only take its pride of place as a big contributor to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as it applies in other jurisdictions when all stakeholders in the risk ecosystem are deliberate, consistent and methodical in simplifying what insurance is all about in words and deed. Firstly, there must be a unanimity of purpose to bake insurance and make it BI enough for all to benefits from the expected windfall.”
Bolarinwa proposed that “insurance should be presented as a Lifestyle add, adding a significant value, enhancing life and living. Creative and interesting story-telling narratives delivered with moving and crisp visuals delivered across digital and traditional platforms with strong orchestration and amplifications. There is bound to be a ‘Top Of Mind Awareness (TOMA)’ as the end product, which is all that is needed for the immense opportunities in the sector to be unleashed.”