The House Representative Committee on Insurance and Actuarial Matters and the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) have agreed on the need to speed up the process of amendment of existing insurance laws to enable the insurance sector make significant contribution to the economy.
The legislators, assessing the request of the Commission with respect to the laws governing operations of insurance business in Nigeria, noted that the laws are no doubt obsolete and needs to be amended urgently to enable the industry take its rightful place in the nation’s financial services sector.
Darlington Nwokocha, chairman, House of Representative Committee on Insurance and Actuarial Matters speaking a Retreat organized his members by NAICOM in Uyo, Akwa- Ibom State said “as legislators, we have the responsibility to ensure that the industry we over see is repositioned because of its role in the economy.”
Nwokocha, representing Isiala Ngwa North/South Federal Constituency said the insurance Act we have today is obsolete and it is our responsibility to ensure that the spirit and provisions of the Act are in tandem with current realities.
“We are going to ensure that we commence the process of amendment and accelerated hearing of the Act, he said.
According to insurance revolves around the economy, and could help address some of the challenges facing the country.
The law maker noted that insurance will help ensure that our security agencies that lay their lives to protect all of us are not left without adequate compensation to their families in the event of the unexpected happening.
Sunday Thomas, acting Commissioner for Insurance/ CEO of the NAICOM in his welcome remarks informed the Committee that the Commission derives its powers from the National Insurance Commission Act 1997 and Insurance Act 2003, stating that some of their provisions are fast becoming obsolete and require urgent amendment.
He also informed them that a Bill to amend the insurance laws has been in the works for some years now, therefore calling on the 9th Assembly to give it an accelerated attention.
Thomas noted that the Commission had hitherto been hindered in its various efforts to implement provisions of the current Laws by a number of challenges which are not within its control.
“We believe that going forward, and in view of our renewed collaboration with the National Assembly, relevant security and sister agencies, enforcement of compliance with the laws will become much easier in no distant time.”
According to him, the Commission is committed to ensuring adequate protection of policyholders as part of its core mandate.
“This effort has been taken in many fronts such as ensuring that genuine claims are promptly paid by insurers, ensuring financial soundness and viability of the insurers to protect investments, right prizing of insurance products, value for money, use of technology for ease of transaction etc.
As part of the Commission’s effort to develop the insurance market, it has commenced the process of attaining the full digitization of insurance business in Nigeria in order to keep tab with current realities. There is no hiding the fact in saying that the industry is currently lagging behind other financial services sectors in this regards, Thomas said.
He further stated that the Commission is now more prepared to drive the IT revolution in the sector starting with itself. It is on this premise that NAICOM is working assiduously to see that all its operations are done online and real time by digitalising its processes and encouraging the industry to imbibe same. Appropriate steps are being taking to launch the Commission’s portal which will go a long way in blocking leakages in the sector, Thomas informed the legislators.
It will be recalled that Insurance Industry has since initiated the Insurance Consolidated Bill 2013, which had moved between the ministry of Finance and the presidency but without much progress.
Kemi Adeosun, former minister of Finance had also constituted a Committee to review the Draft Insurance (Consolidated) Bill during her tenure, with a view to making it a framework or principle-based legislation; a comparative review of the bill to align it with the powers of other financial regulators in the country as well as a thorough examination of current market problems and recommendation of appropriate regulatory powers to allow the insurance regulatory authority act appropriately.