Babatunde Irukera, the Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), has advocated for standalone feedback mechanisms for insurance companies to help address consumer dissatisfaction.
He made the call during a meeting with the Commissioner for Insurance, Mr. Thomas Olorundare Sunday, at the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) headquarters in Abuja.
Irukera, who joined the meeting virtually, said it was clear to him that Nigeria was underinsured.
He said, “Individuals are underinsured, and businesses are underinsured. My philosophy towards that has been that insurance for us as consumers in Nigeria has been an obligation.
“So it is more of a legal proposition than it is a value proposition. I think it is very few and sophisticated people who see insurance from a value proposition standpoint. Most people see it as something they are compelled to do as a matter of law.
“And there are two problems with that. One is the disposable income issue. In addition to the disposable income issue, there is also a trust, security and confidence issue.’
He disclosed that FCCPC observed over time that when an insured chooses to exit a policy, whether it was timely or otherwise, the ease with which they could exit and get paid were challenges that would certainly not promote confidence in the industry.
He said if this could be dealt with, consumers would have greater confidence in insurance services.
“One of the things that I am hoping that NAICOM will succeed in assisting us with is getting the companies to have proper standalone feedback mechanisms to respond to consumer dissatisfaction and payout, where necessary,” he stated.
Irukera further noted that if insurance business was to be deepened, the industry must get people wanting to buy policies because of what it would do for them, not because the law required them to do so.
On competition in the industry, the Executive Vice Chairman explained that even though FCCPC may have no objection to certain business combinations, it was vital for the Commission to provide its context to issues.
Responding, the Commissioner for Insurance, Thomas Olorundare Sunday, expressed happiness with the level of regulatory engagement between NAICOM and FCCPC and commended the Executive Vice Chairman for his approach to consumer protection.
He said, “I must again publicly acknowledge and salute the dynamism you have brought into consumer protection. It was like it never existed before, but the level of dynamism that you have brought into it has made it quite relevant to daily living.”
He assured the EVC that NAICOM was focusing on competition and consumer protection more than ever before and would like to share knowledge with FCCPC.
According to him, “Insurance is something you buy when you think you don’t need it. When you need it, it will be too late to buy.”
Both agencies agreed to set up a joint technical committee to facilitate the negotiation and execution of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
FCCPC’s Executive Commissioner (Operations), Dr Adamu Ahmed Abdullahi, and NAICOM’s Deputy Commissioner, Technical, Sabiu Bello Abubakar, including top management staff of the two agencies, attended the meeting.