Umbrella body of insurance companies in Nigeria, The Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA) has slammed a three month suspension on insurance giant, NICON Insurance Limited.
Chairman of NIA Mr. Olusola Ladipo-Ajayi who confirmed the suspension at a press briefing in Lagos yesterday said that NICON's membership of the association was put on hold following the company's refusal to appear before one of its committees.
The chairman had informed that NICON declined to appear before the NIA's Complaint Bureau to defend itself against allegations brought against it by one of its aggrieved clients.
Mr. Ladipo-Ajayi who stressed the association's determination to enforce discipline in the nation's insurance industry contended that NICON Insurance has the choice of backing out of the NIA membership if after three months it failed to put on a defence against the allegations brought against it. He however declined to give details of the complaint brought against NICON.
According to him, the NIA complaint Bureau was established with the view to resolving disputes between insurance companies and their clients especially in the area of claims settlement and risk pricing.
He informed that the bureau has successfully executed 20 cases with some of the insurance companies and their complainants employing the services of lawyers as legal advisers. The Bureau is headed by a lawyer of the rank of a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN)
"The NIA Customer Complaint Bureau has continued to blaze a trail in conflict resolution since it was established two years ago. The Bureau has so far resolved many issues to the satisfaction of all the parties; the insured and the underwriter. The fact that members respect the decision of the Bureau is a further attestation to the high esteem which the Bureau is held. Following NICON's decision not to appear before the Bureau, the governing council of the Association, at its meeting of Thursday, January 26th, 2012, resolved to suspend the company from the Association. That Decision has been communicated to the company", the NIA chairman reiterated.
He revealed of plans by the NIA to check against fruadstars in the business saying that the industry is partnering relevant agencies and institutions to tackle fake policy certificates especially as it relates to motor insurance.
It was consequent upon this that the association he said has acquired about 500 computer based gadgets which would be distributed to police as to enable them confirm the authenticity of motor insurance policies as the equipment would be linked the a data bank.
He however lamented the inability of the insurance industry to benefit from the insurances of petroleum product importation.
It would be recalled that the law mandates insurances of all importations into the country to be handled by indigenous insurance companies.
"The Association is working closely with the National Insurance Commission to fine tune the Guidelines for underwriting oil & gas insurance in year 2012. It is our expectation that more member companies will take advantage of the local content law and participate in the insurance of oil & gas assets", he said.
"In 2011, the Association embarked on insurance awareness campaign to add value to the business of member companies. The radio jingles on Life and General insurance business in pidgin English, Hausa, Ibo and Yoruba were aired on Wazobia FM, Lagos and Abuja. This year, the Association will build on the success of the previous effort by taking the campaign for insurance awareness to the regions. It is our expectation that through this modest effort, we would be contributing to the growth of insurance business", Mr. Ladipo-Ajayi further said.