Weak underwriters urged to embrace mergers, acquisitions for big business

Experts in the insurance have charged weak operators in the to embrace mergers and acquisitions (M&A) to form big-ticket firms that would compete globally.

The Group /Chief Executive, Continental Reinsurance, Femi Oyetunji, warned that unless the number of insurance firms is reduced to 20 strong underwriting companies, the insurance cannot compete with their international counterparts.

He said: “If we don’t reduce the number of insurance companies in the , we are not going anywhere. My personal belief is that 15 to 20 well-capitalized, skilled insurance companies will transform the .”

He said he would like to see insurance companies for stronger synergy. He said the biggest threat at the moment is global players with large , adding that all that it takes to drive is here.

“We can see the danger, having seen the trend. Why we have not seen many of them at the moment is because of the economic situation. Once the situation improves, the big players from America and Europe will come in and dominate, and that is where the benefits will go. If the global players are based in the , UK, or Germany, they will take the benefits to those places,” he said.

Also, PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a multinational professional services network of firms, last week, in their latest report titled ‘Insurance penetration in Nigeria’, observed that the Nigerian insurance is performing below its risk capacity evident by the low patronage of insurance services in the country.

According to the report, the insurance sector if successful will support development and in the economy, encourage savings and investment, aid job creation and in markets and financial assets.

The insurance stocks on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) are not performing well as they should, given the apathy of investors believe that insurance firms are not well managed, thus affecting profitability.

Besides, from the regulatory issues which operators in the are grappling with, poor patronage of insurance in Nigeria could be blamed on management by some insurance companies which sometimes are below par because an average customer simply wants to be comfortable.

Such , according to the report, have their basis in weak corporate governance and risk management framework which sometimes makes the companies seem unfriendly particularly when there are claims to be made to customers thus creating doubts about how well the insurance companies may be trusted.

“At the heart of this, customers often complain about the lack of flexibility and technology-driven in terms of the kind of insurance policies and packages that meet today’s upwardly mobile audience of contemporary insurance,” the report said.

The report further explained the implications of these on the industry are rife. In 2018, the Enhancing Financial and Access, EFInA report stated also that of the 99.6 million adult population in Nigeria, only 1.6 per cent have insurance covers even though nearly 40 per cent of them have access to financial services

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