How Heirs Holdings is deepening insurance penetration in Nigeria

…As Elumelu believes ‘prosperity should be democratised’

Insurance premium penetration rates of 0.7percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), ranked 87th in world terms, and average premium per capita of $9.4, reflect a market that is still developing.

Approximately only 1.5percent of all Nigerian adults are covered by insurance today, which is quite low compared to insurance penetration in other developed countries.

Even though Nigeria may be showing gradual signs of development in this industry, there is still room for more growth when compared to other emerging markets.

There are challenges faced by the Nigerian insurance industry which include low penetration levels, lack of consumer trust, low implementation of compulsory insurance and a lack of professionals that are adequately skilled in this space.

These challenges, however, can be overcome if the insurance industry in Nigeria adopts some of the ideas and methods from the banking sector in Nigeria which has grown significantly over the past ten years whereby the total banking assets are now over US$150 billion.

It is in a bid to overcome these obvious challenges and increase insurance penetration in Nigeria that Heirs Holdings (HH) recently announced the Group’s transformative insurance industry play, with the launch of Heirs Insurance Limited (HIL) and Heirs Life Assurance (HLA), at the companies’ Victoria Island headquarters in Lagos.

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Heirs Holdings will bring a dynamic, digitally-driven offering to the general and life insurance sectors, providing clients with a real choice of products, pricing, channel, and claims handling.

Heirs Insurance Limited (HIL) provides general insurance, offering policies covering vehicles, homes, SMEs, business risks, and other properties. Heirs Life Assurance (HLA) offers insurance-backed savings plans and life insurance security for individuals, families, children’s education, debtors, creditors, entrepreneurs, and employees. All plans offer customers comprehensive protection, creating financial certainty for loved ones, cherished assets, and properties.

Both companies leverage the business track record of Heirs Holdings, the pan-African investment group, chaired by leading investor and philanthropist, Tony Elumelu. Heirs Holdings’ portfolio includes companies transforming financial services, power, oil and gas, real estate, hospitality, healthcare, and technology.

Speaking during the launch of Heirs Insurance Limited (HIL) and Heirs Life Assurance (HLA), Tony Elumelu disclosed that the journey that started seven years ago has finally come into reality.

Elumelu explained that it is good when policy makers, regulators and public sector leaders begin to understand that for “Nigeria to create employment, create jobs that our people need and eradicate poverty”, the private and public sectors must work together.

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He noted that with the approval of the insurance licence to HIL & HLA, and other companies and investors, the regulators have helped to create more jobs in the country and to even add to the country’s tax revenues, thereby further adding to the country’s overall economic activities.

“Look at this building today. It’s a five-storey building. We engaged contractors and all of these have created over 150 jobs. So, I want to thank the Commissioner for Insurance, the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM).

“What we are doing here today demonstrates our core purpose and our essence at the Heirs Holding Group. We like to improve lives and transform our continent starting with our country. What we are doing here is trying to improve lives by creating jobs, improving economic activities and contributing more revenues to government coffers,” Elumelu had emphasised.

He further said that most importantly, his company wants to help the Nigerian Insurance Industry and the public, adding that the public have long yearned for insurance services that can be offered on a platform of excellence, superior services, customer service, digitally-driven and above all, one that is on their side.

He assured that HIL & HLA offers affordable and reliable insurance products.

Elumelu, who hinted that Heirs Holdings has a track record of governance and best traditions of compliance, assured Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos State, who was present at the occasion and other regulators that when they look back in service and even after they have retired, they would be very proud that they signed the licence for these two companies.

“We will uplift your commitment to the highest regulatory and governance standards. You will be proud of us,” he assured.

To the general public, Elumelu said Nigeria’s economy is the biggest in Africa yet insurance to GDP is very insignificant, adding that the private sector needs to work with the regulators, finance ministry and all stakeholders to tap into the potential therein.

“I see great private sector leaders who are here, we all should join our hands together and work together to make sure that insurance to GDP in this country becomes reasonable. In other climes, insurance companies even own banks but in Nigeria it’s still insignificant.

“We can’t remain like this. I want to say that we come with a strong track record of governance and of business success and business turnaround and most importantly wealth creator for all. We believe that prosperity should be democratised. We believe that success for us in this business will not just be the profit we make for shareholders but would be the impact we create,” he said.

The chairman of Heirs Holdings said HIL & HLA will play the role of helping to develop the community, create jobs for people, and help eradicate poverty.

He said for Heirs Holdings, these are things that will define success for it and these are things the company is used to.

“In all our corporate lives, we have always taken businesses to the next level. So, today I assure the Nigerian public that we will work with NAICOM, our fellow insurance companies and the larger Nigerian private sector to make sure that we change the insurance landscape in Nigeria. I am proud of our directors and I’m happy to have the rare privilege of chairing the board of Heirs insurance Ltd,” he added.

Olorundare Sunday Thomas, Commissioner for Insurance and Chief Executive Officer of the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), who was also present during the launch of Heirs Insurance Limited (HIL) and Heirs Life Assurance (HLA) commended Tony Elumelu for his resilience, doggedness and the determination to add value and to join the sector in building the new insurance company that is going to de-risk other sectors of the economy.

Thomas said the timing of the launch would not have been more auspicious in view of the fact that the NAICOM has been rolling out various developmental initiatives aimed at deepening insurance penetration in the country.

He said that with HIL and HLA, he has no doubts that Nigerian Insurance market is poised for transformation.

“We want to minimise outflows and conserve foreign exchange for national development. The commission expects that the affairs of these companies will be conducted in consonance with insurance sector corporate governance guidelines and directives.

“The independence of the board and its committees including ensuring adequate disclosure and transparency and strict compliance with regulatory requirements are required of these companies. While collaborative efforts to reposition and rebrand the industry have become imperative, the commission is now more determined to ensure professionalism, high ethical standards to protect the integrity of the Nigerian Insurance Industry,” the Commissioner for Insurance said.

Thomas, who described Lagos State as the foremost insurance-friendly state in Nigeria, commended Sanwo-Olu for making this a reality.

Also speaking at the occasion, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos State, described Tony Elumelu, chairman of the Board for Heirs Holding as a true African, a dispassionate Nigerian, a mover of men and resources, an entrepreneur par excellence, and a man that has devoted his life into making others feel wanted and loved with his entrepreneurial spirit and his commitment to commit his resources to the development of Africa.

He thanked Elumelu for breaking another feat again, especially delivering the huge project on time and on budget.

“I want to thank you for putting this Skyline on our famous Ajose Adeogun Street. Coming in this morning, the question is what do I have for the private sector? Coming out of a very tough, rough pandemic year globally, the least we can do is to reposition ourselves as a government and as a people, especially working with the private sector.

“So when we have businesses like these and when we have freshness in our economy like this one, the least we can do is to come in here and encourage you. We need to encourage the private sector because they are the real engines of growth. We need to acknowledge that no matter how well the government does, we certainly cannot employ everybody that needs to be employed,” Sanwo-Olu said.

He said the private sector are the real engines of growth, as they are the ones that can create opportunities for our businesses and the ones that indeed can grow the GDP.

He acknowledged that the insurance industry had a bit of a shake towards the end of last year because they asked insurers to increase their share capital and many had to look for money to keep them alive.

“So I’m aware that Heirs Insurance and Heirs Life Assurance are one of the most liquid and well capitalised insurance companies in the country right now. It is not just about the sector but about what they have shown us. It’s about the freshness they are bringing to the sector.

“It’s a new beginning they are bringing to the sector and they have said to us that it is going to be simple and they will use technology as a strong enabler. It is going to be accessible and affordable. These are three strong words that businesses of today require. You need to be very simple. It has to be something people can get on a click of a button or right in their palm. It has to be accessible and affordable,” the Lagos State governor said.

At the launch, Adaobi Nwakuche, Ag. MD/CEO, Heirs Insurance, said: “We are delivering insurance that is easy to understand, quick and reliable, simplifying our customers’ lives. Our mission is simple: make insurance accessible. Our goal is to transform customer service: cutting waiting time in claims processing and purchase to bare minutes — across all touchpoints, including mobile devices. At Heirs Insurance, we want to give our customers what they have so often lacked – high quality insurance, at an affordable price – and with an insurer that is on their side”.

Niyi Onifade, MD/CEO, Heirs Life, said: “Our goal is to integrate life insurance products into people’s daily lives to create financial inclusion and bring quality financial services to the many, not just the few. This way, we empower people to live more confidently and achieve their dreams, whilst securing the future of their loved ones. Heirs is all about giving our clients financial security. As people build wealth, we want them to know that they have a partner in Heirs Life, providing financial support throughout their life”.

The man Tony Elumelu

He is the Founder and Chairman of Heirs Holdings, his family-owned investment company committed to improving lives and transforming Africa, through long-term investments in strategic sectors of the African economy, including financial services, hospitality, power, energy, technology and healthcare.

Tony is the chairman of pan-African financial services group, the United Bank for Africa (UBA), which operates in 20 countries across Africa, the United Kingdom, France, and is the only African bank with a commercial deposit taking presence in the United States. UBA provides corporate, commercial, SME and consumer banking services to more than 21 million customers globally. He also chairs Nigeria’s largest quoted conglomerate, Transcorp whose subsidiaries include Transcorp Power, one of the leading producers of electricity in Nigeria and Transcorp Hotels Plc, Nigeria’s foremost hospitality brand.

He is the Founder and Chairman of Heirs Oil & Gas, an upstream oil and gas company, whose assets include Nigerian oil block OML17 with a current production capacity of 27,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day and 2P reserves of 1.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent, with an additional 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent resources of further exploration potential. Heirs Oil & Gas is committed to creating resource based added value on the African continent.

Tony is the most prominent champion of entrepreneurship in Africa. In 2010, he created The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), the pan-African philanthropy empowering a new generation of African entrepreneurs, catalysing economic growth, driving poverty eradication and driving job creation across all 54 African countries. Since inception, the Foundation has funded just over 10,000 entrepreneurs and created a digital ecosystem of over one million Africans, as part of a ten year, US$100m commitment, implemented through its flagship Entrepreneurship Programme.

Self-funded, the Foundation is increasingly sharing its unique ability to identify, train, mentor and fund young entrepreneurs across Africa, with institutions such as the United Nations Development Programme, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other global development agencies. His businesses and Foundation are inspired by Tony’s economic philosophy of Africapitalism, which positions the private sector, and most importantly entrepreneurs, as the catalyst for the social and economic development of the African continent.

Tony sits on a number of public and social sector boards, including the Global Advisory Council of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Centre for Public Leadership, World Economic Forum Community of Chairmen and the Global Leadership Council of UNICEF’s Generation Unlimited. In 2020, in recognition of his business leadership and economic empowerment of young African entrepreneurs, he was named in the Time100 Most Influential People in the World, and recognised with Belgium’s oldest and highest royal order.

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