Trail-blazers enter Nigeria’s insurance market to invest

The nation’s insurance industry is taking a new shape as top individuals, corporate investors are bringing their investments to bear in the operation and conduct of the risk-market in the country.

For instance, top flight investors in the banking, pension and IT technology are shifting their influence to shape the practice and operation of risk business in Nigeria.

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The newly approved insurance firms includes: Heirs Insurance Limited (General); chaired by Tony Elumelu; Heirs Life Assurance Limited, chaired by Dr. Tajudeen Yusuf; and FBS Reinsurance Limited, led by former Commissioner of Insurance, Fola Daniel.

Others are Enterprise Life Assurance Company Nigeria Limited, chaired by Keli Gadzekpo, and Stanbic IBTC Insurance Life, chaired by Yinka Sanni.

Apparently impressed by the confidence the investors have in the industry, the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) wasted no time in issuing operating license to the firms after meeting all the requirements to start business.

Olorundare Sunday Thomas Commissioner for Insurance

Speaking at the presentation of operating license to four insurance firms and one reinsurance company to start business in the country, the NAICOM boss, Olorundare Sunday Thomas, reminded the companies that the license were only held on lease and could be revoked if there are sufficient reasons at any point in time.

He described the latest licensing regime as historic, because the last insurance license awarded by the Commission was about 10 years ago, while reinsurance license last issued was 35 years ago.

According to him, “It is important that we state this and also let you know that we are issuing you license today, the license does not belong to you, it is on lease but you will determine how long the lease period will be.”

A financial technocrats told AssurPen Online on the significance of the new firms “They are forward looking companies and financial institutions with eyes in the future, who are conversant with the new trend in consumer behavior, and bring new products and services tailor-made to meet the growing needs of customers”.

Fola Daniel who responded on receipt of the license for his company said the firm will work according to the standard, principles and guidelines, adding we will do what we know how to do better.

However, while responding to the gesture, a visibly excited Elumelu promised not to disappoint the regulator noting that “to whom much is given, much is expected.”
He promised to uphold the tenets of good corporate governance and abide by the industry standards as well as deepen insurance penetration through innovative product offerings.

He said: “And talking about market development of products, that is one of the things we bring to this sector, we have done it before. In 2005, UBA was the first Nigerian bank to dispense over N1 billion through ATMs and today a lot has happened and we will do no less…we have been in the cutting edge of banking innovation.

“We will do no less in this sector: we understand market research, we understand what consumers want and we know how to reach consumers and we know how to meet and surpass the expectation of consumers and there’s always room for improvement especially with technology.

“So working with this leadership of NAICOM and other industry leaders in the insurance sector, we can’t do it alone, we will all work together to bring about the change that would help this industry grow so that it’s contribution to GDP will begin to move to at least between 1 per cent to 3 per cent under your leadership in NAICOM.”

He said: “It’s possible. We will also work with you in engaging the National Assembly when necessary legislation has to be put in place to make the sector more successful.”

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