Chiamaka Ajeamo, [email protected]
The insurance business is one of the most harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic hence, there must be a paradigm shift from the usual way insurance business is practiced, the Commissioner of Insurance, Sunday Thomas has said.
Thomas made this statement while speaking to brokers at this year’s Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) retreat organized by the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB) in Lagos.
He said the reason insurance business is most affected is because it is a service that regularly requires physical contact, saying often than not, product distribution requires face to face contact for the sellers to get the buy-in of potential clients.
“This year has no doubt been a very challenging one for our sector, individual households and the economy at large as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, to us in the insurance sector, what this situation has thrown up is that there must be a paradigm shift from our usual way of business practice.
“It is, therefore, imperative on us to embrace and align our businesses to the new world order if we must be seen to be relevant.”
Going further, Thomas explained that the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) as the regulator, on its part, is already adjusting to the challenges and opportunities which the pandemic has imposed on the socio-economic and business environment, adding that among the fallout of the pandemic was the review and extension of the recapitalisation programme, fast tracking of automation of the Commission’s processes for prompt service delivery, the framework for digitalisation of operators, among others.
He noted that the retreat theme, “X-Raying the Finance Act 2020”, was apt and couldn’t have come at a better time than now when the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic is taking its toll on the financial services sector, explaining that previous tax laws were quite stringent on insurance operators and permitted double taxation by taxing investment income and policyholders’ funds.
He also said it allowed tax losses to be carried forward only for a maximum of four years of assessment, contrary to what was obtainable in other businesses as well as did not allow a full tax deduction on unexpired risk provision in relation to the financial year.
Thomas emphasised that with the enacting of the Financial Act, the industry has been liberated from the draconian tax laws.
He, thereafter, urged the brokers to embrace ethics in their professional dealings, saying the unprofessional conduct of few among them posed great dangers to the insurance sector’s collective integrity as an industry.
“Over the years, a lot has been put into improving the fragile image and perception of insurance in this country. We all must rise up to the menace of unethical business behaviour in our sector.
“As the insurance industry positions itself for Post Covid-19 era, the demands of the insuring public will require sound work ethics for us to optimise performance,” he added.
As intermediaries, he tasked the brokers to ensure sincerity and customers’ satisfaction were central to their core business principles even as he assured them that the commission has always and would at all-times extend full support to all stakeholders in the industry in its drive for the sector’s growth.
“The Commission is open to new ideas and shall continue to introduce new reforms and initiatives in line with international best practices that will strengthen our institutions”, Thomas said.