By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State has challenged insurance operators in the country to rebrand the industry so as to maximise the untapped potential in the economy.
Mr Amosun made this call while declaring open the Insurance Professionals’ Forum organised by the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN) in Abeokuta, the state capital.
The Governor, represented at the occasion by his Deputy, Mrs Yetunde Onanuga, said insurance firms should make maximum use of the investment opportunities available to them to strengthen their liquidity position to enable them meet the claims of policyholders, companies whenever the need arises.
He said the theme of this year’s forum: The insurance industry, national economic shift & new business realities, could not have been more apt, as there were more than ever before in the history of the nation, the need for diversification of the economy.
Mr Amosun stressed that such effort would help restore public confidence in the ability of the industry to deliver and redeem its obligations to clients.
He observed that many Nigerians were yet to embrace the culture of patronising insurance firms, hence, the need for the Institute to engage in public education and enlightenments programmes that would enlist the interest of the people in the business.
He called on the operators to extend some of their programmes to the rural areas, to enable them tap the potentials at the grassroots.
“There is the need too for insurance companies to redesign their products and services in such a way that would meet the need in the ever changing behavioural pattern of our people. In doing so, concerted efforts should be made to ensure that the economic environment and social behaviour of our people are integrated into the policy formulation and marketing strategy objective of the insurance companies.
“Another area which the insurance industry is yet to fully explore is the life policy and pension insurance scheme. This can really make long term funds available for profitable investment in the insurance sector. It seemed to me that lack of insurance life portfolio has made our insurance companies to be caught in the web of low investments and needless competitions with other actors in the money market,” he Governor said.
Speaking on diversification, Mr Amosun said it had dawned on everybody of the need to diversify the economy to the non-oil sector and as major players, insurance professionals must come up with robust ideas and policies that could help cushion the fall in revenue in the economic process.
“Undoubtedly, as the call for the diversification of the economy is on the increase, and investors are being wooed to invest in agriculture, mining, export promotion, among others, this gathering through robust deliberations, must come up with possible template that would not only assure investors of the safety of their investment, but that would ensure them of insurance driven environment which will bring high yields on their investments.
“Without doubt, the prevailing social economic situation in our economy requires that the Institute should attempt a critical reappraisal of some of the contemporary issues in the professional practice of insurance business in order to promote the industry,” he said.
Commissioner for Insurance, Mohammed Kari, urged insurance professionals to act professionally, adding that failure to observe this tenet in the past caused the industry so much injury.
“The time has indeed come for us to speak professionally and act like the true insurance professionals we claim to be in the course of performing or conducting our business. Our failure to observe this tenet in the past has caused the industry so much reputational injury. I am glad to say the current efforts of the underwriters to change the perception of the public about insurance are timely and laudable. All other sectors should join in with their widow’s might to ensure the success of the project,” he said.
CIIN President, Lady Isioma Chukwu, urged insurance professionals to key into the vision of the government’s economic diversification activities and position the industry appropriately.