COVID-19 and insurance broking

The COVID-19 pandemic which took the world by storm wreaking havoc on the global economy also impacted the operations of the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB) and altered most of its projections and focus, prompting it to engage in proactive thinking to square up to the challenges, EDET UDOH reports.

The NCRIB President, Dr. (Mrs) Bola Onigbogi while addressing members of the National Association of Insurance and Pension Correspondents (NAIPCO) shortly after their 2020 Annual General Meeting (AGM) recently in Lagos, x-rayed the activities of the Council, the effect of COVID-19 pandemic, and measures adopted to ensure members’ businesses remain afloat even in the face of the challenges.

The NCRIB president who was represented at the occasion by the vice president of the Council, Mr. Tunde Oguntade, said in the past five months or more, the Council has had to re-order its priorities and engage in proactive thinking to square up to the unfolding challenges faced by members in line with the new way of doing things, adding that the Council under her leadership had enthusiastically embraced digitalization coming in form of engagement of virtual devices in holding regular meetings and engaging in professional enrichment of members through training.

Professional enrichment of members

She noted that the Council, realizing the knowledge gap in the area of leadership amongst members organized a leadership training virtually featuring the Director General of Institute of National Transformation, Prof. Vincent Anigbogu, stating that the training which was logged in by members all over the country and outside exposed members to the challenges of the new knowledge and information age.

Dr Onigbogi said in compliance with the law on statutory returns on the new Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS 9 & 15), the Council worked with the inputs of the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM)to engage KPMG Consultants to train members on the new template, noting that the training was an eye opener for members and would prevent them from avoidable penalties for inappropriate reporting.

Strategic engagements

NCRIB boss opined that in spite of the Covid-19 challenges, it is most heartwarming that the present leadership did not deviate from its focus on strategic engagements, adding that it is most delightful that at the outset of the regime, a delegation of the Council visited the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) signaling a new progressive relationship between the two institutions.

She said opportunity of Covid-19 was utilized to forge more collaborative engagements by providing relief materials to the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation Management (LASTMA) who were provided face masks for their officers to stave off any possible contract of the dreaded disease by its officers even as she hinted that similar relief provisions given the Federal Capital Territory opened the vista of better relationship between insurance brokers and the government institution, in line with the policy thrust of this administration.

NCRIB collaboration with NIA, NAICOM on Covid-19 palliatives

“It should also not be forgotten that Insurance Brokers collaborated with the Insurers and NAICOM to contribute the COVID-19 relief to the federal government. It was quite gladdening that the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, President Mohammadu Buhari, GCFR, enthused by the donation, specially identified and applauded the donation, which has been a big plus for the image of the industry.

“It is worthy of note that the relationship between the Council and the National Insurance Commission, as well as the National Assembly has inched up significantly. The Council was invited to make a presentation on the public procurement Act recently, qualifying her as one of such institutions to be invited. Relationship with NAICOM has definitely been buoyed by the supportive roles and favourable disposition of the new team of NAICOM, under the dynamic leadership of Mr. Sunday Thomas as Commissioner for Insurance. In a positive response to Brokers on the Covid-19 relief, the Commission granted administrative palliative to Brokers concerning the extension of dates for submission of their returns to the Commission in view of the Covid-19 challenges. 

Squaring up to future challenges

According to her, “It is definitely not lost on the Council and its members that the business world as well as insurance business and profession would never be the same again, little thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. In response to this, the Council under the present leadership is more than prepared to help members navigate any foreseeable or unforeseeable challenges by improving their knowledge power. The Council would continue to train and retrain members, particularly to position them to digitize their operations and be adaptive to the changing demands of customers. As professional intermediaries, Insurance Brokers cannot afford to be at the backwaters of the economy, hence the need for them to learn, relearn and unlearn.”

Reporting Insurance industry

Dr. Onigbogi said the reporting Insurance industry particularly comes with its challenges, in view of the poor acceptance of the industry by members of the public who hardly find it expedient to put insurance in the first line priority, in spite of risks as a critical component of human existence.

While commending NAIPCO members, she expressed optimism that with the unselfish commitment and tenacity of purpose by NAIPCO members, gradually the barrier of ignorance about the industry is being pulled down.

“It is common knowledge that awareness about Insurance Broking is abysmally low, even from those who should know better. Only little is known about the fact that Insurance Brokers constitute one of the most important characters in the insurance value chain in view of their intermediary roles. Aside from cresting on their rich reservoir of professional knowledge sometimes earned from working with other segments of the profession, they also help insurance clients to understand and maximize the value of their insurances. In other words, there is no way any initiative about growing the insurance industry and enhancing its image could be complete without making insurance breaking the kernel of such focus or aspiration.”

Plans to visit Presidency

Also speaking at the event, NCRIB’s Executive Secretary, Mr. Fatai Adegbenro,

said plans are in top gear for its President, Dr. (Mrs) Bola Onigbogi to visit President Muhammadu Buhari as part of the Council’s sensitization Programme to deepen insurance in the country.

He said the planned visit to the Presidency is aimed at sensitizing the government on the need to engage the services of the registered insurance Brokers, to protect the assets and liabilities of the government.

According to Adegbenro, “We will continue to engage the government agencies from time to time. But for the COVID-19, our President would have paid a visit to the Presidency with the view to sensitizing the government on the need to engage the services of the registered insurance Brokers, to protect the assets and liabilities of the government. It’s not only the assets you protect, you protect liabilities as well because there are a lot of loans being taken to execute government projects. When these projects fail, whether you like it or not you must pay back the loan, so you have to protect all these things.

“We are engaging the people to embrace the benefit of insurance. Insurance is key. Insurance in other climes, nobody waits for the government. It’s very easy because people larch on ignorance to say the government has not done this or that. Government cannot do everything even in the United States of America (USA). If they suffer loss, they don’t go to the government, the people call on their insurance companies for compensation. We are doing everything to ensure we minimize reliance on the government here,” he said.

Digitalization of operations

On technology, he the Council is doing everything within its powers to ensure that members are fully upgraded to global trends in business operations in order to stay afloat in the present of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic even as he hinted that very soon members renewals will be done online.

He said, “On the area of technology, if you say some members are not technologically savvy, yes, but in the real sense of it since the lockdown we have been meeting with our members; some of you have had the opportunity to come here and meet us. Our membership is spread all over the country and we have been organising training for our members. Nobody can claim to know everything, even the public you are reaching out to, your client might not be IT savvy hence you see them going there. When after sending mails to clients and there is no response you have to move out to reach out to them and our members have been dealing with them online.”

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