The last one year since Sunday Olurunda Thomas was confirmed the substantive commissioner for Insurance and the Chief Executive Officer of the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) has seen tremendous changes and hope for a new insurance industry.
With strategic policies and plans, driven to enhance market development, efficiency in service delivery, protection of consumers as well as well as stakeholder confidence in the insurance business, the industry has not only seen improved rating, but keying to launch into new growth areas and level.
When he was appointed substantive commissioner for Insurance by President Mohammadu Buhari, on 3rd of May 2020, having been the Deputy Commissioner in charge of technical matters since 2017, many no doubt believed in his ability to bring in changes that would elevate the status of the sector.
Like an industry analyst described him, “Thomas has been properly seasoned for the task on hand, having served in the Commission for close to three decades and rose steadily to become the Director Technical, a position from which he retired with infallible track records of achievements. Definitely, his appointment as the Director-General of the Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA) after leaving NAICOM gave him more penetrative insight into the activities of the Association, regarded as one of the critical cornerstones of the insurance industry in Nigeria, before providence railed him back to NAICOM as the Deputy Commissioner in charge of Technical before his present position.”
Now one year down the line, Thomas has proven he can be relied upon; having successfully began the drive to increase insurance penetration and market development in the country.
Speaking on his one year in the leadership of NAICOM, Thomas promised to bring insurance services to all nooks and crannies of the country, stating that the 2021-2023 Strategic Plan has five goals designed to entrench effective and efficient service delivery, ensure safe, sound and stable insurance sector, adequately protect policyholders, and public interest, improve trust and confidence in the insurance sector and encourage innovation and promote insurance market development.
“We also know that with the engagement we have had with the Nigerian content, there is going to be an increase in the oil and gas business. As I speak now, we have a committee working on the guidelines to enforce the law in the Nigerian content. All the leakages we have had hitherto will be blocked”
On the need to expand the basket the NAICOM boss said, two Takaful insurance companies have been licensed in addition to the existing two, adding that the Commission is conscious of the fact that insurance sector is knowledge based which informed the on-going development of more actuarial analysts capacity in the industry as the first step of having more qualified actuaries in the country.
“We know that the drivers of the economy are those at the lower levels of the pyramid and so we are taking financial inclusion very seriously. It is now a national policy. For the insurance sector we are far behind, but we are doing a lot of catching up. To this effect, four micro-insurance companies have been licensed and an additional two are on the verge of being licensed”
Insurance as technology driven business, achieved a feat during the period under review. The Commission successfully completed the first phase of its portal. The portal started nine years ago, but until last year, nothing was happening. Today, the functioning portal is already up and running.
In an attempt to increase insurance penetration in the country as well as increase government participation in insurance business, Thomas said the Commission is currently engaging state governments to draw them closer and bring the gospel of insurance to their door steps. In the last one year, some states governors have been visited by the Commission, he said.
On the enforcement of compulsory insurance, the Commissioner stated that NAICOM has embarked on various engagement measures across the country. Aside from visiting state governments to solicit for their support, NAICOM is also working in collaboration with the Federal Road Safety Corps, Federal ministry of transportation, Federal Fire Service, among others.