BusinessDay

What insurers need do to build consumer trust, grow industry

…as Carefirst moves to help on claims issues

Insurance companies in Nigeria have been urged to take seriously the issue of claims payment and customer experience to build trust and confidence in the insurance industry.

Experts who spoke at the 2022 Insurance Advocacy Conference organised by Carefirst Consult in Lagos with the theme: ‘Catalysing Insurance Through Better Claims Experience’ said the growth potential of the industry is huge, but still challenged by lack of consumer trust, and most times due to ignorance.

Odunayo Bammeke, former group general manager, risk management and insurance at Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in his presentation at the event said, claims is the only test of trust and gateway to earning confidence of the consumers.

Bammeke said insurance companies need change of mindset moving from the default positions of “all claims are potential fraud” and “negative profiling of certain risk/clients”

“Underwriters should aim for higher level of self-regulation. Organizations that cost every activity might just discover that it is cheaper to settle claims fast than wait for regulatory intervention. You spend money defending, still settle claim and end up with dissatisfied consumer”.

According to him, claims experience is our product – it is what we sell, Bammeke said.

Ekeoma Ezeibe, managing director/CEO, Crystal Trust Insurance Brokers in her presentation at the event expressed the determination of the insurance industry to give good costomer experience to the insureds.

Ezeibe who is the vice president at the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB), however noted the importance of understanding the contract of insurance before going into it.

She therefore urged consumers to engage the services of insurance brokers if they do not have proper knowledge and understanding of the contract terms.

She said, with the broker by you, there will not be issue when claims arise.

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Gus wiggle, principal consultant at Carefirst Consult during his welcome remark stated that the insurance industry faces huge trust deficit from the public arising from the horrifying stories that policyholders with claims share, to the extent that those who do not have policies also tell the stories even more better.

According to him, addressing the outstanding claims of individual policyholders became more challenging when the policyholders complained to the regulator, National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), yet have had to wait for their payments, sometimes for over one year.

This is not to say insurance companies do not pay claims, in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, the insurance companies paid N142.8 billion, N193.5 billion, N206 billion and N224 billion respectively, but expressed worries that insurers do not celebrate their own success.

“Why are insurance companies not celebrating their claims payment to the public under the wave of people saying they don’t pay claims? If you don’t blow your trumpets, who will blow it for you?”

“We are willing to help insurance companies publish their claims on our website if we are not asking for too much as our own way of improving trust and confidence in the insurance sector”

Wiggle noted that Carefirst Consult can be called a child of circumstance, that has come to help consumers and even underwriters address their claims issues.

“Carefirst Consult will ensure that the right amount of reimbursement is paid based on the client’s loss. Our job shall include processing and reviewing the claims made against the insurance company. We are responsible to recover denied claims, he said.

According to him, Carefirst Consult is poised to be the preferred assisted platform that would offer insurance policyholders a reasonably transparent process to achieve one of the strategic goals of NAICOM to “improve trust and confidence in the insurance sector” and enable growth in the number of Nigerians with insurance policy by making sure all genuine claims are paid promptly.

“We shall be the new watchdog for policyholders against insurance companies that want to deny or delay all genuine claims, Wiggle stated.