Why insurers adopt online channels during COVID-19 lockdown

By Bankole Orimisan |   02 June 2020   |   3:26 am  

To cope with challenges posed by the outbreak of the coronavirus especially in Nigeria, operators in the insurance industry have adopted Information Technology (IT) systems to reach out to more Nigerians for market penetration.
 
With the federal and some state governments entrenching physical and social distancing rules to limit human physical contacts to curb the spread of the virus, The Guardian gathered that insurers opted to leverage online channels to increase the sale of policies and pay claims emanating from insured risks.
  
Under the arrangement, a prospective policyholder can link up to the website of their insurer, provide the necessary information, pay the premium and get policy document printed without visiting the insurance office.

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In its trial phase, the initiative is limited to a motor insurance policy, since most insurance policies will demand further physical checks to authenticate the information provided by prospective insured, with plans to extend it to other policies soon across the sector.
 
Despite the recent lockdown which affected most businesses, insurers still sold policies and even paid claims running into millions of naira through their respective electronic channels.
  
Hence, underwriters are improving their online platforms to continue to provide services to policyholders despite the challenging business atmosphere created by COVID-19.
   
For instance, Great Nigeria Insurance (GNI) Plc, promised to continue to provide seamless and quality services to its policyholders through its IT platforms, irrespective of the current challenges.
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GNI Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mrs. Cecilia Osipitan, said: “In an effort to stay true to the commitment of delivering quality service to valued customers, alternative service channels have been made available for access to all insurance products and services available under the stable of GNI Plc.”
 
Similarly, Unitrust Insurance Company Limited also provided alternative communication lines to interact with its policyholders and stakeholders, to continue to serve customers and the business community better and align with the current trend.
 
Likewise, Guinea Insurance Plc directed its customers to leverage online platforms for their insurance services, while Old Mutual Nigeria, launched an electronic channel to ensure unbroken and convenient access to insurance benefits and claims for its customers.
 
The firm said despite the challenge, its policyholders can make claims through its digital and mobile-friendly, e-commerce web portal to ensure that their access to the benefits of insurance remains sacrosanct.
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Old Mutual said the e-claims channel is in line with the brand‘s commitment to providing accessible, swifter, convenient, affordable, tailor-made and exceptional customer-service inspired insurance services to the Nigerian customers.
 
Speaking on the online offers, Executive Head, Marketing, Old Mutual Nigeria, Alero Ladipo, said the launch of the brand‘s revamped e-commerce web portal aligns with its continuous leveraging of digital innovations to deepen access to insurance solutions to its customers.
 
Moreover, AIICO Insurance Plc paid its policyholders N350million claims within the first 48 hours of COVID-19 lockdown in the country.
 
AIICO’s Executive Director, Retail Business, Sola Ajayi, who spoke to The Guardian over the weekend, confirmed that the insurer has been responding non-stop to customers for payment of claims, policy loans, partial and full maturity benefits, among others since the lockdown took effect.
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Also, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, AIICO, Babatunde Fajemirokun, said the underwriter leveraged its technology platforms and digital channels for optimum service delivery, adding that the customer traffic had increased tremendously in recent times.
 
Meanwhile, Linkage Assurance Plc also activated its online platforms to serve customers and ensure continuity of operations during the COVID-19 lockdown, to enable it to continue to provide insurance services with uninterrupted access to its offerings while remaining accessible online for self-service and assistance to renew the policy, purchase insurance covers and report claims.
  
Others such as LEAD WAY Assurance, FBN General Insurance Company, Wapic Insurance Plc, Sunu Assurance Nigeria Plc, especially those on general insurance business also followed suit.

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