Dr Balla Swamy, Managing Director of Prestige Assurance Plc, in this exclusive interview with KAYODE ADELOWOKAN, expresses concern for the high cost of health treatment in Nigeria, which can be cushioned by health insurance policies. He maintains that ignorance among the people has been an age long problem as well as rate cutting, which is largely responsible for the inability of many insurance firms to pay claims whenever the occasion arises. Excerpts;
Rate cutting remains a deadly menace that keeps drawing back the growth of the industry, also contributing to the inability of underwriters to pay claims as at when due. How will Prestige Assurance help the industry put a stop to this menace?
You see, there is a mechanism where the premium and claim will synchronise; normally, no insurance company can do business with loses. If you are into insurance business and you encourage rate-cutting, in future, you are going to suffer loses. In a long run, a stable insurance market will be established with scientific underwriting and risk inspections that will make insurance companies stable. Similarly, the customers will get better premium rate that will be able to cover their risks, which can also be refer to as better premium risks measures.
How do you think Prestige Assurance will help deepen insurance business in Nigeria?
Prestige Assurance Plc is a strong insurance company backed up by the government of India and this is prove that it can do well though not with spreading of wings (branches) everywhere but with vast expertise of people in the company and the strong per capital that we have, we are going to help the industry deepens the business.
With your company’s years of experience in India, what do you think Nigeria insurance industry ought to do so as to match the rest of the world?
Insurance industry in every country is slowly growing, as every country is grow, the insurance business in the country is also growing because the industry is now a global village. The Nigeria industry is now reaching to India’s standard in various angles, it may even be better in many areas also, I think it is doing far better but I think the only area where the country need to act fast is that, if it can introduce health insurance to the people because the cost health treatment in Nigeria is too high and the people need to know the true benefits in the product.
What new thing is Prestige Assurance Plc bringing to the Nigeria that you think can send other underwriters to their early bed?
Prestige Assurance Plc is a stable company with standard of best insurance practices all over the world and it is an AM Best rated company. The same practice AM Best follows, we also follow; we follow ethical practices so that the customers will be happy incase if any claim arises, there will be transparent mechanism in settling the claims where the customers will be comfortable. The rates are reasonable in Prestige Assurance plc.
For how long has Prestige Assurance being in Nigeria?
We have been in Nigeria insurance business for the past 63 years.
So, what is the strength of Prestige Assurance?
Prestige Assurance Plc is a stable company; we have been committed to settling claims and customers are happy and friendly in their approach.
Although there is a sentiment that Prestige Assurance Plc is an Indian insurance company that is not true. This has not allowed the company explores its full potentials. The firm is a public listed company like every other company in the country and we are making effort to advertise our self that we are public limited company so that the growing population of brokers’ community can be fixed up by Prestige in giving service to the customers.
In the area of claim settlement, how do you assure your customers that within a short period of an event, their claims will be settle?
We already have a mechanism in place to tackle that; whenever there is an eventuality, we have our own team of surveyor from office which will have to go on inspection to access the loss that may have occurred. We have professional surveyors who will be going on monitoring on a daily basis to ensure that the claims is settle on time without any delay. We have a robust Information Technology (IT) system in place to checkmate if there is any delay in settling the claims.
What prospects are you seeing in the Nigeria market?
The entire world insurance industry is growing, in Nigeria also, insurance industry will grow because the economy is growing everywhere, here also is growing. I am sure Nigeria will have great prospect because lots of development is taking place here and the insurance industry is part of the growing economy where the industry and the banking sector will emerge stronger.
How much was the total claims settled by Prestige in the year ended 2014?
A sum of N1.9 billion was paid in the year ended 2014 as claims for 900 cases.