L-R: National Adviser, Association of Registered Insurance Agents of Nigeria, Chinomso Eze; National Vice President, Jegede Olatunji and National Treasurer, Jeremiah Okpako when the EXCO of Insurance & Pension Editors of Nigeria (IPEN) paid a courtesy visit to the leadership of ARIAN in Lagos yesterday.
The National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) and the Association of Registered Insurance Agents of Nigeria (ARIAN) are currently engaged in a standoff over the inability of than 9,000 registered insurance agents to renew their operational licences, thereby slowing down insurance agency business in the country.
The situation which emanated from submission process hurdles on NAICOM portal has lasted for more than eight months now according to ARIAN.
During a courtesy visit on the leadership of ARIAN in Lagos yesterday by the EXCO of Insurance & Pension Editors of Nigeria (IPEN), Mr. Odewunmi Kazeem, the President, ARIAN said of the 10,000 registered insurance agents in the country, only about 1,000 agents were able to renew their licenses through the insurance industry regulator’s portal.
Kazeem, who was represented by his Vice President, Mr. Jegede Olatunji, noted that the regulator had stopped manual submission for licence renewal in 2022, hence directing every agent to use its portal for submission of necessary documents for licence renewal.
This, he said, they did, fulfilling all necessary requirements, but that the submission couldn’t still go through, adding that official complaints were made to NAICOM about eight months ago but they are still awaiting response from the regulator.
This development, he disclosed, has negatively affected their respective businesses as insurance companies no longer pay commissions to them on businesses generated by the affected agents for fear of being sanctioned by NAICOM.
To this end, he noted that some of the agents who couldn’t cope with the challenge have left the insurance industry into other sectors such as real estate for business survival at a time the industry is struggling to increase insurance penetration.
While pleading for positive intervention from NAICOM to ameliorate the situation before it snowballs into a bigger issue that may sweep off more agents who were driving, especially, retail insurance from the market, he pointed out that their existence is currently at stake if the current situation persists.
“I believe the current Commissioner for Insurance, Sunday Thomas, has a listening ear and has been the driver of increasing insurance penetration in the country. So, every avenue to increase this penetration should be empowered to carry out their civic duty that will aid this ambition. Registered agents are going through tough times now as there is currently not much difference between registered and fake insurance agents. Inability to renew our licences has made some of us to lose businesses that we were facilitating before. The earlier the regulator can intervene, the better for us,” he pointed out.
The National Adviser of ARIAN, Mr. Chinomso Eze said the body had communicated NAICOM through a letter about 8 months ago and it is still awaiting response, adding that ARIAN President had personally also reached out to the regulator on the issue.
Similarly, the National Treasurer, ARIAN, Jeremiah Okpako said the body would be ready for any intervention prescribed by the regulator as long as it will resolve the ongoing challenge.
Earlier, IPEN President, Mr. Chuks Udo Okonta, in his speech promised that IPEN will support ARIAN in its plan to deepen insurance penetration in the country, adding that the vision of IPEN tallies with that of ARIAN in the area of enhancing insurance acceptance in the country.
While calling on ARIAN for a robust media relationship with the new body in the discharge of its civic duties as expected, he disclosed that IPEN has come to revolutionise insurance and pension reporting by focusing more on the pain-points and successes of consumers of insurance and pension services with the aim of putting every stakeholder on their toes to do the right thing for the betterment of both sectors.