The insurance industry in 2019 recorded total gross premium of N490,994.99 billion.
This showed a 15.2 per cent growth from the N426,210.93 billion recorded by the industry in 2018.
The National Insurance Commission(NAICOM), in its provisional figures released by the Acting Commissioner for Insurance, Mr. Sunday Thomas, during a retreat for members of the House of Representatives Committee on Insurance and Actuarial Matters in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, noted that as premium figures in the past three years continues to grow in the industry, quantum of claims paid also continued to grow.
According to him, in 2019, the industry, paid a total claim of N 330,369.18 billion, showing a 31 per cent growth in claims payment from a total N 252,190.21 billion claims paid by operators in 2018.
According to him, the 2018 figure also depicted 35 per cent growth from a total of N186,443.23 billion claims paid by the industry in 2017.
"The above attempts to give clarifications especially to the vexed issue of non-payment of claims by insurance operators. There is no denying the fact that there are indeed some cases of delays in the payment of claims by some operators, the Commission is however addressing such cases as soon as they are brought to our notice.
"It is for this reason that the Commission has strengthened its Complaint Bureau Unit in order to effectively address consumers' complaints within the shortest possible time," he added.
Thomas, informed the lawmakers that the Commission has deliberately adjusted its strategy to focus more on developmental issues than compliance issues going forward in the overall interest of all stakeholders.
According to him, the foundation to ensure successful implementation of its initiatives in this regards was being laid, as he listed some of the initiatives to include the ongoing industry recapitalisation, financial inclusion in the area of Microinsurance and Takaful, development of Agric Index Insurance, Bancassurance and Retiree Life Annuity.
He also highlighted implementation of risk-based supervision, implementation of IFRS 17, improving efficiency in the supervisory processes, capacity building of the Commission and Market workforce, as well as regional integration of insurance supervision as other initiatives.
"As you may have been aware, the Commission had in 2019 initiated the process to recapitalise the insurance industry in order to upscale its financial standing to meet up with current economic realities and avoid imminent systemic collapse and solvency crisis in the insurance sector.
"This will ensure that the industry becomes more robust in its technical competence and financial base, build confidence, trust and enhance market value. It is further aimed at repositioning the sector for self-actualisation in terms of growth and development. The process is expected to be concluded by 31st December, 2020," he added.
Thomas, recalled that the insurance industry in 2009, launched the Market Development and Restructuring Initiative (MDRI) project aimed at a comprehensive pursuit of development of the industry as well as ensuring full compliance with extant Laws in respect of compulsory insurances.
He noted that the first phase of the project was successfully carried out in all the six geo-political zones in the country and informed that the second phase of the project would soon be unveiled and would mark out clear targets and tasks for all stakeholders in the industry.
"The Commission is committed to vigorously pursue the continued implementation of Compulsory Insurances to which collaboration and support from all stakeholders is key towards achieving the desired goal.
"I must mention here 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".
Speaking on some growth areas in the industry, Thomas, said the annuity business is an aspect of life insurance that is gradually taking its shape in the market.
According to him, in the recent time, annuity has recorded significant boost with an increase in its contribution to the sector.
"The public is becoming more exposed and knowledgeable about the workings of annuity, this we hope will continue in the coming years as the future is looking very bright. This has also shown a positive growth in trust and confidence in the sector" he added.
He assured that the Commission was committed to ensuring adequate protection of policyholders as part of its core mandate, adding that 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 pricing of insurance products, value for money, use of technology for ease of transaction etc.
He said as part of the Commission's effort to develop the insurance market, it has commenced the process of attaining the full digitisation of insurance business in Nigeria in order to keep tap with current realities.
According to the NAICOM boss, there was no hiding the fact in saying that the industry is currently lagging behind other financial services sectors in this regards.