By Sola Alabadan
The Africa Insurance Pulse launched today by the Africa Insurance Organisation (AIO) indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic posed severe challenges to Africa’s insurers, even as the insurers expect further uncertainty in the remainder of 2020 and 2021.
As in the past, this 5th edition of the Insurance Pulse titled “Growth perspectives of African re-/insurance markets”, is based on diligent market research and in-depth interviews with insurer, reinsurers and brokers operating in the continent.
The research was conducted by Faber Consulting on behalf of the AIO and sponsored by Africa Re.
Jean Baptiste Ntukamazina, Secretary General of AIO, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has caught the global insurance industry largely unprepared. Those African insurance and reinsurance companies with a strong capital base, and the ability to distribute their products digitally were better equipped to weather the impact of the pandemic. This will enable them to capitalise faster on the business opportunities arising after the crisis.”
Capital & digitalisation as unique strategic differentiators in times of COVID-19
Those African insurers with a strong capital basis and already established digital distribution channels were better prepared to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. The combination of both factors protected them against the worst effects of the crisis and enabled them to maintain their client relations even during lockdown periods or in a social-distancing environment. As these insurers strengthened their market position during the pandemic, they will be even stronger in capturing those business opportunities, rising in the future.
Regulators focused on protecting African policyholders
Following the outbreak of the pandemic, regulatory authorities have given re-/insurers more time to cushion the impact from the sudden contraction of the economy. At the same time, they encouraged re-/insurers to pay claims promptly. Those re-/insurers operating according to risk-based capital regimes were better prepared to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.
Dr. Corneille Karekezi, Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Africa Re said: “Insurance regulation in Africa has significantly improved in recent years. Various regulators have pushed ahead, mandating the implementation of risk-based capital schemes or capital increases, as well as improved operations and risk management. At the same time, we witness rising protectionist efforts to retain insurance and reinsurance premiums locally. Regulators should assure that in particular in times of economic distress, insurers have access to the highly-rated risk capacity and expertise that well-diversified reinsurer provides. Indeed, some recent catastrophes, including large natural catastrophes or man-made claims in South Africa, Cameroon and Lebanon, and in addition to the threat presented by COVID-19 potentially related claims remind us that some exposures can quickly exceed local capacity.”
The pandemic will change the African insurance landscape & reduce top-line of insurers
Senior executives predict that COVID-19 will lead to an accelerated consolidation of Africa’s insurance industry, eliminating those companies with limited resources and fragile processes. Such a shake-out would strengthen the continent’s insurance markets and benefit policyholders through higher security and a drive for more innovation.
Executives expect an improved risk awareness among consumers, leading to higher demand for insurance products. However, executives are concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on the income of African households. They expect that policyholders will limit their spending and favour savings for fear of a reduction in income or job losses. This, in turn, will affect their insurance purchasing behaviour, ultimately leading to a decrease in premium income.
Andreas Bollmann, Partner at Faber Consulting, commented: “Despite the impact from COVID-19, Africa’s insurers and reinsurers remain confident of the fundamental growth potential of their market. They believe that the effects of the pandemic will be offset by an accelerated digital transformation, supportive government and regulatory policies, and increased risk awareness by consumers.”
For the remainder of 2020 and 2021, Africa’s insurance executives expect a continuation of the high level of uncertainty. Re-/insurers have to maintain adequate solvency, ensure operational resilience and remain responsive to customer needs. In 2020 insurers introduced large-scale transformative investments to redefine their core value proposition, optimise operations, update technology and to build a workforce for the future. In 2021 they have to continue on this path of strengthening their competitiveness and thus contributing to a more robust marketplace.
AIO was established in 1972 in Mauritius as a non-governmental organisation recognised by many African governments.
Currently, the AIO has 365 members, 345 of them from 47 countries in Africa and 15 associate international members from 9 countries.
Onanuga Advocates Functioning Social Security System In Nigeria
By Sola Alabadan
In view of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis, the former Director General of Lagos State Pension Commission (LASPEC) said there is the critical need for a functioning social security system to allow all Nigerians to achieve an adequate standard of living.
Mrs. Onanuga made this call while delivering the theme paper “Covid-19 Impact On Financial Inclusion: Opportunities For Insurance & Pension Sectors” at the sixth edition of the national conference of the National Association of Insurance and Pension Correspondent (NAIPCO) held recently in Lagos.
She said “The World Bank estimates that the covid-19 crisis will result in 10.9 million Nigerians falling into poverty by January 2022. If we have learned anything, the pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis have highlighted the critical need for a functioning social security system to allow all Nigerians to achieve an adequate standard of living.
However, she lamented that “unfortunately, the social security system in Nigeria is next to zero; so you need to plan for yourself so that if anything happens, you need to be able to stand.”
Mrs. Onanuga stressed that in this era of COVID-19 pandemic, insurance and pension is what Nigerians need to lean on for a hopeful future.
“If you really want to remain in business, you must take insurance, in the event of sudden occurrence like the pandemic, insurance will help you to stand back on your feet; in the event of you finding that because of the pandemic a breadwinner of a family dies, there must be a buffer to ensure that the family is not affected.
“Therefore, more than ever before, you find out that actually there is need for both insurance and pension products to ensure that we continue to live and meet our need of sustainable living, healthy living, wealthy living and of course, continuity in business. That is why it is important for all of us to identify that we have these needs for growth and continuity by taking up both insurance and pension products,” Mrs. Onanuga said.
In her goodwill message, Director General, National Pension Commission (PenCom), Mrs Aisha Dahir-Umar, who was represented at the event by the Commission’s Head, Corporate Communications, Mr. Peter Aghahowa, emphasised the need for Nigerians to embrace contributory pension, as a social security safety net.
He said the issue of gathering retirees physically in various locations across the country for verification is now a thing of the past with the online verification and enrolment portal recently launched by the Commission.
According to him, “Before now, we would congregate several retirees in different centres of the country to do the enrolment for the Treasury Funded retirees, and now that can be done online.
“I’m happy to announce that over 3,000 people have been enrolled through our online portal out of 11,000 expected to retire this year.
Also speaking, the Chief Executive Officer, National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), Mr. Olorundare Thomas, called on Nigerians in all walks of life to embrace insurance as risk-mitigating mechanism.
The Commissioner for Insurance was represented by Assistant Director, Market Development, Adeyemi Abubakar.
He congratulated the NAIPCO members, for their consistency in organising the conference, as a platform to ensure that they reach out to the public with their reportage on the insurance sector to ensure the growth of the insurance business in Nigeria.
The Commissioner for Insurance reminded NAIPCO of their role as purveyors of information, awareness creation and catalysts of economic growth, just as he solicited the continued cooperation of the Association for the growth of the industry.
He said for the Nigerian insurance market to record significant growth and contributes adequately to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), all hands must be on deck, noting that the media has a critical role to play in this especially in sensitising the public on the benefits of insurance.
Thomas believes that deepening insurance penetration can only be possible through a deliberate and sustained insurance awareness which, he said, will also lead to the realization of the Federal Government’s financial inclusion initiative.
Sovereign Trust Settles N2.5b Claims In Nine Months
Sovereign Trust Insurance Plc paid total claims of. N2,515,004,405.67 between January and September 2021, in line with its avowed commitment to pay all genuine claims promptly.
A rundown of the claim’s composition paid during the nine months period shows Energy/Oil & Gas Insurance having the highest figure of N774 million, Fire and Allied Perils accounted for N505.5 million, while N460 million was paid as claims under Motor Insurance.
Other figures as released by the organisation are: N355 million for General Accident, N215 million for Engineering/Contractors’ All Risk Insurance and N203 million for Marine & Aviation Insurance.
While commenting on the claim’s payment, the Executive Director, Technical, Jude Modilim, said “there is no compromise to claims settlement in Sovereign Trust Insurance Plc because that is the barometer for our customers to determine whether we are delivering on our promise or not. We do not intend to fall short of this obligation and we will continually strive to make good our promise at every point in time as long as the claims are genuine and treated accordingly.”
Modilim further stated that the company has put in place a friendly-claim-process which ensures that claims are settled within the shortest period possible. “The processes involved from the moment a claim is reported and the period the customer receives the cheque have been made as seamless as possible” he noted.
In the same vein, the Managing Director of the organisation, Olaotan Soyinka stated that “one of our means of advertisement in Sovereign Trust Insurance Plc is prompt claims settlement and it has helped to strengthen the relationship with our customers. We do not allow them to go through distasteful experience in the process of getting their claims settled. Our processes are hinged on professionalism, ethics and promptness”.