The Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA) has recorded another milestone as the association unveiled the Nigerian Insurance Industry Database (NIID) Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) Code *565*11#.
The Chairman, Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA) and ,the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of NEM Insurance Plc, Tope Smart, ,while speaking during the unveiling of the code, said the launch of the code will not diminish the importance and the significance of the scheme in the annals of the Association.
He said the launch of the NIID USSD Code presents yet another giant step towards bringing insurance closer to the people and ultimately eliminating fake insurance certificates in the market.
Smart recalled that in 2010 NIA took a giant step aimed at eliminating fake insurance certificate in the market with the inception of the NIID.
He said the database went live in 2011 and insurance policies obtained by motorists could be checked real time online on the internet and through dedicated hand held devices.
He said as an authentic database of the Nigerian Insurance industry database, the objectives of NIID among others include provision of qualitative statistic and analysis of insurance industry data.
To serve as a vehicle for easy verification of genuine insurance certificate by all stakeholders, and to reduce incidences of fraudulent insurance transactions especially for motor insurance and marine insurance certificates.
NIA boss, who expressed happiness to report that the industry has continued to reap the benefits of the scheme, said that fake insurance certificate has gone down drastically. “I want to tell you with all certainty that fake insurance has gone down drastically and that a number of people have confirmed the genuineness of the insurance certificate they are having,” he said.
“Prior to the establishment of the platform, the cloning and faking of insurance certificate was a thriving business but the establishment of the NIID has assisted the industry in no small way in reducing the incidence of fake insurance certificate drastically. Till date, we have over three million vehicles without details of those policies in our database.
“The platform has equally enhance the inclusion of stolen vehicles and claims reporting modules in response to the challenges thrown up by the action of suspected fraudsters that made multiple claims with intent to defraud the industry over the past years,” Tope Smart added.
He noted that the NIID had been operational nationwide but with the challenges of verification in the areas with poor internet coverage, adding that the verification of motor insurance certificate through the dedicated service became highly hindered due to poor internet services in the hinterland.
This, he said, led to the introduction of USSD technology which he said is what Global System for Mobile (GSM) technology used to sending text between the mobile phones and other programmed application in the network.
He said the services work independent of internet connectivity. “In this instance, any mobile phone not necessarily a smart phone will communicate the NIID system to recheck policies status whenever required. It is hoped that with the USSD, we would have fully overcome the problems associated with internet connectivity as it guarantees uninterrupted services throughout the country and on all networks. Our existing and prospective customers now have the opportunity to confirm the genuineness of their respective policies at the time of purchase to avoid any embarrassment should claim occur,” Smart added.
In his good will message, the Commissioner for Insurance, National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), Muhammed Kari who was represented at the event by Abel Amokade, commended NIA on the launch of the NIID USSD code.
He said the code will serve as an avenue for the industry to verify genuine insurance certificate, easy collation and dissemination of information and data, adding that the launch of the short code *565*11# marks another milestone in the history of insurance profession and practice in Nigeria.
Kari said the journey that led to the eventual launch of the initiative today was challenging but commended NIA for ensuring that the journey of over 15 years come to a reality.
The Acting Managing Director of the Nigerian Inter Bank Settlement System (NIIBS) Niyi Alao, said the launch of the NIID USSD code is a welcome development.
He said USSD has become the preferred access to do things: in banking and other areas, which according to him, is why the NIID is put on USSD because USSD is so accessible.
Alao said the system works twenty-four hours in a day and seven day in a week.
He said USSD works on any type of phone and anywhere you are in the country. “In fact, even when you have only one bar in your signal strength, USSD will go through,” he noted.
He added: “So that gives us assurance that when you use this service *565*11#, you are assured that you will always get service. So what we are doing with NIA falls within our strategy, it falls within our mandate and our core mandate is to see how we can bring efficiency; how we can bring convenience into the finance services industry generally – be it insurance, be it pension or be it banking itself,” he said.
He said NIIBS partner with NIIA will help in growing insurance business in Nigeria.
Also speaking, the Group Managing Director, Courtevile Business Solutions, Adebola Akindele, said Fintech is what is the most importance this time in our lives as a nation, adding that it is the only way to go for us to be able to leapfrog to close that gap that has been created in the industrialization or what has happened across different continents over centuries.
He said for us to catch up with the Western world or other continents of the world, we have to be able to bridge that gap in terms of our lack of industrialization and that is why “Fintech has become quite important.”
Fintech, he explained, is about servicing and providing services with the use of technology to reach our end users in the easiest and cheapest possible ways.
The Sector Commander, Lagos Area Command, Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), John Meheux, expressed happiness with the launch of the NIID USSD Code which he said will help in tackling some of the problems they encountered in the course of their duties on the road especially as it affects the Third Party Motor Insurance, calling on insurance industry to do more.
“For us in the FRSC we still expect more from the insurance industry. We believe to a large extent that insurance industry still need to do more for us. We strongly believe in this year, we will work closely with insurance industry,” he added.